Nas’s Second Coming: XXL Rates God’s Son’s Resurgence

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Over the last year, Nas has been on an absolute roll. Queensbridge’s finest has been flexing his lyrical muscle on tracks for everyone from Rick Ross to K’Naan to Amy Winehouse. God’s Son hasn’t sounded this hungry since the 1990s. With the QB MC delivering yet another stellar verse on Tyga's "Kings and Queens"—from the Young Money rapper's recently released Careless World: Rise of the Last KingXXL gathered Nas's work over the past 12 months and rated just how Nasty Esco is. Carry on Tradition!—Jesse Gissen, Adam Fleischer and Mark Lelinwalla

Nas on Raekwon's "Rich and Black"

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Release: March 8, 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “Rare nigga, I’m a wonder/Your best success is my worst blunder.”

Reunited after years, Nasir and Chef deliver with potent lyrics on “Rich & Black.” From his opening bars, Nas comes correct.

Nas on Mobb Deep’s “Dog Shit”

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Release Date: April 4. 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “Yo every gang/Every hood’s/In my veins/It’s my thing/It's real/I’m in tune/I chill/Like the cold sign of the moon/Silence you dudes like an empty room"

For Mobb Deep’s first song since Prodigy’s release from prison, they recruited longtime fellow Queensbridge poet, Nasty Nas, to celebrate on wax. On the dark plotting track, produced by Havoc and The Alchemist, Nasir speaks on men being freed from lockwdown.

Nas on CJ Hilton’s “So Fresh”

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Release Date: April 24, 2011

Rating: L

Best Line: “She was a drug dealer’s dream/Shape mean/Good credit for the team.”

Seemingly out of nowhere Nas jumped on this R&B jam from newcomer CJ Hilton, adding a verse about a bad chick with a fatty that he met outside of divorce court.

Nas on Common’s “Ghetto Dreams”

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Release: July 2, 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “But I’m still single lookin’ for Cleopatra/African queen, yo look at me I’m a bachelor/Y'all niggas in trouble/Keep your girls behind closed doors/Cross your fingers, be happy I haven’t chose yours.”

Nas plays closer after two Common verses, as the lyrical duo sparks news that they’ll be working on a full project together.

Nas "Nasty"

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Release: August 9, 2011

Rating: XXL

Best Line: “Any rebuttal to what I utter get box-cuttered/Count how many bad honeys I slut, it’s a high number/Name a nigga under the same sky that I’m under/Who gets money, remain fly, yeah, I wonder.”

Nas returned to the game strong, with the super lyrical “Nasty," which has him exhibiting the same kind of nimble wordplay that made him a hip-hop icon in the 1990s.

Nas on Lil Wayne's “Outro”

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Release Date: August 29, 2011

Rating: XXL

Best Line: “Smack adolescents who ask who the best is/I'm nasty like gas from a fat man's intestines/I pass it, you gaspin' for breath and you die fast”

To help round out Lil Wayne’s Carter IV “Intro,” “Interlude,” “Outro” trilogy, Nas spits a monster verse that clocks in at almost a minute and a half. In it, he uses verbal gymnastics to remind listeners about his longevity and influence, and in the process displays many of the skills that got him to that legendary status.

Nas on DJ Premier's “Regeneration”

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Release Date: October 26, 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “You know the flow's administered/By the deputy, rhyme prime-minister/Sir Nas, I'm certified.”

Any time Nas and DJ Premier have teamed up during their celebrated careers, the outcome has been pure magic. This offering, though a bit different sounding, yielded similar results.

Nas on Mary J. Blige’s “Feel Inside” Nas on Mary J. Blige’s “Feel Inside”

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Release Date: November 21, 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “I’m not at all happy or elated/This category ain’t my favorite/It’s my story Imma state it/You could love it or hate it”

Over the same sample from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph” Nas joins the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul to tell a tale of heartbreak.

Nas on Mobb Deep’s “Get It Forever”

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Release Date: November 21, 2011

Rating: XL

Best Line: “No clip in your glock/You ain’t prepared to fire/We call that riding with no air in your tire”

Nas links back up with M-O-B-B for this standout cut from their comeback EP, Black Cocaine. On the mencing banger, God’s Son closes out the track, spitting cinematic Queensbridge murder raps.

Nas on Amy Winehouse’s “Like Smoke”

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Release: December 5, 2011

Rating: XL

Best line: “Y’all know the story, y’all know the commentary/I kick the narrative, this is legendary/The good Samaritan, hood thespian/Like a polygamist, with a twist/Will I marry again? Maybe I guess.”

Nas spent the bottom portion of his verse, questioning why Amy Winehouse, who he called his sister, had to die. “Huntin’ for the answers, why did God take away the homie?” Nas questioned. “I can’t stand it. I’m a firm believer that we all meet up in eternity, just hope the big man show me some courtesy.” Nas even confirmed that Winehouse’s song, “Mr. Jones,” was indeed dedicated to him.

Nas on Rick Ross’ “Triple Beam Dreams”

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Release: January 6, 2012

Rating: XXL

Best Line: “My junior high school class, wish I stayed there/Illegal entrepreneur, I got my grades there/Blaming society, mad, it wasn't made fair/I would be Ivy League if America played fair/Poor excuse, and so I was/Throwing rocks at the pen just for the love."

Rick Ross brought the best out of God’s son on “Triple Beam Dreams,” on which Nas turns in what’s highly regarded as his best verse in recent memory.

Nas on K'Naan's “Nothing to Lose”

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Release Date: January 19, 2012

Rating: XL

Best Line: “I’m voicing my opinions, I forgot y’all was there/I ain’t know y’all was still listenin’, be honest I ain’t care.”

In his vintage storytelling form, Nas teams with K’Naan to recount tales of the depths from which he rose.

Nas on Tyga's “King & Queens”

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Release Date: February 21, 2012

Rating: XL

Best Line: “You’re in the presence of a majestic, esoteric/Message from the most ghettoest king, worldwide respected/I can say ‘ghettoest’ ’cause I come from where metal spit/Praying to God I can slide and slip out the Devil’s grip.”

Esco hops on this track from Tyga’s Careless World: Rise of the Last King album, alongside Wale, and talks greasy while putting on for Queens and boasting of his own greatness.