Nas Rank No.17 on XXL’s First 5 List

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  • #nas-first5-featured
  • nas-first5intro
    Nas
    <strong>Time Span Between First Five Albums:</strong> Seven Years<br /><p>Nas has had a lengthy, storied career, with plenty of highlights. But, the foundation of his success clearly lies with his early work. Beginning with his classic debut album, <em>Illmatic</em>, Mr. Jones gained recognition as one of the most unique and important talents in the game. His first five albums weren’t all as celebrated as his inauguration onto the scene (we’re looking at you, <em>Nastradamus</em>), but each provided at least some highlights in their own right, and were crucial in marking the many stages of the Queens MC’s career. It was these first five that ensured that he’d have a chance to deliver another five over the next decade. </p><p style="text-align: center;">_________________________</p>With apologies to De La Soul, five is the magic number. It’s usually the amount of albums in a standard record deal, but few MCs ever fulfill their contractual obligations with as much aplomb as they started. Whether an artist peaks early or late, staying consistent over the duration of five albums has proven challenging no matter the era in hip-hop. XXLmag.com decided to rank the best first-five album runs in hip-hop history (<a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2012/10/xxl-rank-best-first-five-albums/" target="_blank">First 5</a>). A new act and their ranking will be revealed each day of the week throughout the month of October and the Top 5 will be revealed on November 5th. Get in on the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag <a href="http://twitter.com/i/#!/search/?q=%23xxlfirst5&src=typd" target="_blank">#XXLFirst5</a>.<p><strong>Previous Entries:</strong> <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/t-i-ranks-no-25-on-xxls-first-5-list/">25</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/first-5-mobb-deep-ranks-no-24-on-xxl%E2%80%99s-first-5-list/" target="_blank">24</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/rick-ross-ranks-no-23-on-xxls-first-five-list/" target="_blank">23</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/krs-one-first-5-list/">22</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/rakim-ranks-no-21-on-xxls-first-5-list/" target="_blank">21</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/first-5-wu-tang-clan/" target="_blank">20</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/eminem-ranks-no-19-on-xxls-first-5-list/" target="_blank">19</a>| <a href="http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/10/first-5-the-roots/" target="_blank">18</a></p>
  • 1. <em>Illmatic</em> (1994)
    1. <em>Illmatic</em> (1994)
    <p><strong>Label:</strong> Columbia</p><p><strong>Release Date:</strong> April 29, 1994</p><p>Nas’ debut album is unquestionably considered one of the greatest hip-hop releases of all-time. The 10-track <em>Illmatic</em> built upon the Queens rappers’ scene-stealing verses over the last couple years, and suggested he’d be one of the most crucial figures of the next two decades. With production contributions from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Large Professor and more, Nasty crafted vivid scenes depicting his upbringing and surroundings, while employing his gifted technical mic skills, as well. </p>
  • 2. <em>It Was Written</em> (1996)
    2. <em>It Was Written</em> (1996)
    <p><strong>Label:</strong> Columbia<br /></p><p><strong>Release Date:</strong> July 2, 1996<br /></p><p>When it was time to release <em>It Was Written</em> two years after his classic debut, Nas was no longer on the come up. Thanks to his previous work, as well as the enormous Trackmasters-produced single, “If I Ruled the Wolrd (Imagine That),” featuring Lauryn Hill, the album hit No. 1 on the <em>Billboard</em> 200 when released. As he stepped into his role as Nas Escobar, the Queens rapper also provided memorable joints like “Street Dreams,” “I Gave You Power,” “The Message” and “Black Girl Lost.” The release established Nas not just as a favorite of hip-hop heads, but as a hip-hop artist with mainstream appeal. </p>
  • 4. <em>I Am</em> (1999)
    4. <em>I Am</em> (1999)
    <p><strong>Label: Columbia<br /></strong></p><p><strong>Release Date:</strong> April 6, 1999<br /></p><p>Almost a full three years after his sophomore effort, Nas returned to deliver <em>I Am…</em>, his third album. The disc included successful singles “Nas Is Like,” produced by DJ Premier, and “Hate Me Now,” featuring Puff Daddy. In addition to Preemo and the Trackmasters, Timbaland and L.E.S. lent their sonic touch to the creation, which peaked at No. 1 on the <em>Billboard</em> 200. Other high profile contributors included DMX, Scarface and Aaliyah. As usual, Nas’ lyricism remained sharp. </p>
  • 5. <em>Nastradamus</em> (1999)
    5. <em>Nastradamus</em> (1999)
    <p><strong>Label:</strong> Columbia, Ill Will Records<br /></p><p><strong>Release Date:</strong> November 29, 1999<br /></p><p>Just half a year after <em>I Am…</em>, Nas was back to drop <em>Nastradamus</em>. His previous effort was supposed to have been a double CD, and it is said that the follow up contains some leftovers from that earlier project. Commercially and critically, the album didn’t match the previous releases, as it hit No. 7 on the <em>Billboard</em> 200 and was viewed as an artistic lapse in Nas’ otherwise mostly unimpeachable catalog. The song “Nastradamus” found Nasty firing a shot at Memphis Bleek, and the second single “You Owe Me,” featuring Ginuwine and produced by Timabaland, would later be used as fodder by Jay-Z in his battle with Nas on wax. </p>
  • 3. <em>Stillmatic</em> (2001)
    3. <em>Stillmatic</em> (2001)
    <p><strong>Label:</strong> Columbia, Ill Will Records<br /> </p><p><strong>Release Date:</strong> December 18, 2001<br /></p><p>With a subpar showing on his prior album and embroiled in a feud with Jay-Z in which the odds seemed stacked against him, Nas needed an album exactly like <em>Stillmatic</em> to mount his return. Two years after his last release, the comeback album reused the title from his debut, and indeed was able to achieve a similar excellence. Between creating a verb with the Hov-aimed “Ether” (someone can now get “ethered”), and “One Mic,” regarded both a successful single and as one of Nas’ best works, the album contained an array of gems. The project hit No. 5 on the <em>Billboard</em> 200 and again planted Nas’ feet in the ground as one of the game’s best. </p>
  • Jay

    Way too low, guys. 3 classics.

  • XAGMNINETY

    #1- Lil Wayne

    Weezy is obviously the greatest rapper ever, so we’re giving him the number one slot. Although he was pretty street with his first two albums and tha carter II was an example of quintessential southern hip-hop, he really took the world by storm when he went mainstream with CIII. With such classics as Lollipop, She Will, and My Homies still , Lil Wayne capitalized on the wild success caused by rich white kids buying CIII and pretending they’re gangsters. He, along with everyone in YMCMB, has become the best rapper of all time. Nicki Minaj and Drake always beez in the trap too, especially since Nicki came from a middle class family on a Caribbean island and Drake was a prominent player on a little girl’s soap opera.

    /sarcasm

    fuck you xxl. Nas is a legend. Only Nastradamus was anything but spectacular. this is disrespect.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/OUD743RWA2I677GHW5CFR4ST4M Jose

      IF LIL WAYNE MAKES THIS LIST THAN THIS LIST IS MEANINGLESS … LIL WAYNE DOESNT WRITE !!!!

  • VoiceofReason

    unbelievable.
    i thought the eminem ranking was bad, but holy fuck, at least 3 classics out of his first 5, one solid album and then one subpar album causes god’s son to drop to 17th? Who’s #1? Jesus Christ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=846190584 Ron Klatt

    Illmatic alone should have this guy in the top 10. I would say this must be based on record sales but then again Em is at 19. This is a very confusing list thus far however if I see Wayne and Ross and garbage like that above the names we have already seen I would state this mag has just pissed away its credibility.

    • XAGMNINETY

      ross is already on the list at 23… which is disgusting as it is considering a non lyricist is placed above the Mobb and TI

  • MC

    ridiculous…3 out of the 5 (Illmatic, It Was Written, Stillmatic) are classics. 1 was a solid album (I Am…). Only 1 weak album (Nastradamus) out of the 5. He’s at least top 5, if not number 1.

  • justcasano

    this ranking is by far one of the most inaccurate ever. Jay’s Volume 2 and 3 should place him at this level wtf. fuck commercial numbers base it off the music quality.

  • Panama

    There’s sixteen other rappers with better albums ? Xxl cocaine is a hell of a drug

  • http://twitter.com/thaNorthStarMN thaNorthStar.com

    nas raps off beat A LOT

  • NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

    NAS IS MY FAVORITE RAPPER. But in all fairness, no Nas bias on this either, but…… He is ranked too Low! Even if Nastradamus was an D(or F) on the GPA (grade point average) scale, he Would Still get a MAGNA CUM LAUDE (3.900 gpa) in albums. This really makes me wonder who was judging. Nas is Top 5 all time (2pac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-z, Eminem, in any given order) and he is #17 on this list. HMMMMMMM….. It does not add up XXL

  • NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

    #nowformynasbias HOW CAN HE BE RANKED THAT LOW!!?? Nas has proven himself over and OVER again on those albums that he will be in rap hall of fame, if they ever had one O_o, but seriously! NAS “UNQUESTIONABLY” CHANGED THE RAP GAME WITH “ILLMATIC” AND “STILLMATIC” ALONE,…UNQUESTIONABLY!!! ……………………WHO MADE THIS LIST!!!!!!????? SHOW YOUR FACES!!!!! BRING FORTH YOUR FACES!!!!!!

  • K.B

    so number 1 is obviuously kanye or outkast

  • JD

    #1 either going to be Kanye or OutKast imo

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OUD743RWA2I677GHW5CFR4ST4M Jose

    IM FROM BROOKLYN. FUCK NAS. BUT AS AN UNBIASED RAP FAN , IM TIRED OF PEOPLE DISSING THE NOSTRADAMUS ALBUM. THAT WAS A TIGHT ALBUM (MINUS THE WEED TEA SKIT). “SOME OF US HAVE ANGELS” IT A SUPER CLASSIC THAT RELATES TO THE CURRENT STATE OF GOD VS THE DEVIL IN HIP HOP. DEFINATELY AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

    • jayfluid

      agreed…why are people clowning nostradamus, that album was tight…you had the mobb deep joint, the brave heart joint, and the isley brothers joint,”project window.” i really don’t think people actually listened to the album, all they remember is the P diddy video, and the Genuwine video.