You guys like Nas, right? I was a big fan back in the days of Illmatic and It Was Written, but I tuned out when things started getting all teh ghey. That Firm album, which I've yet to hear, was probably a sign, but the two albums he released in 1999 both contain some of the more breathtakingly gay moments in recent hip-hop history. No homo.

[In fact, even It Was Written had moments that pushed the proverbial envelope. Sting samples. Pink suits. The two jigs from Jodeci. I'm just sayin'.]

He was able to bring things back, to a certain degree, on Stillmatic and God's Son, but the abortion that is Street's Disciple about killed whatever momentum he was able to build up. If it wasn't for him finally finding it in himself to forgive Jay-Z for dropping a load in his car, who knows where he'd be right now?

Fortunately, him and Jay-Z were able to patch things up and the little homie has got an album coming out this fall on the once-revered Def Jam label. Not that this is saying a whole lot, but Hip-Hop Is Dead is easily the year's most anticipated rap album. Nevermind any more new G-Unit garbage.

Of course I had my concerns back when I heard Nas was signing with the house that Oran "Juice" Jones built. The inevitable Jay-Z and Nas collabo will generate a certain degree of interest, but will it be enough to cover the $3 million advance they're paying him? This is, after all, the guy that thought "American Way" was a good idea.

Come to find out, ol' camel face is hedging his bets.

To wit (from the new Rolling Stone):

"For his eighth studio album, Queensbridge MC Nas is taking it to the clubs. "I want it to be bangin'," he says. "And if you want it bangin', you call the dudes with the bangers." In this case, the dudes are Timbaland, Pharrell, Scott Storch, Dr. Dre and hip hop's newest "it" producer, of the Black Eyed Peas. "This one is gonna broaden my audience back up to where it needs to be," says Nas.

That's right, bitches: Escobar season has returned!

I should've known back when I heard he was signing to Def Jam that this would only mean bad news in the long run. Whoever it is that's really running that label while Jay is off touring the UK and dropping it off in Rihanna wasn't about to allow him to drop another Street's Disciple.

Not for $3 million.

To be sure, having the likes of Scott Storch and produce your album doesn't necessarily guarantee that it'll turn out a monumental shit sandwiches. TI and Busta Rhymes both had a lot of big names on their albums and they were both listenable.

Still, it would've been nice to see a few names like Large Professor, Salaam Remi, and even the washed-up DJ Premier on that list.