Until he finally made nice with Jay-Z and found himself in the Def Jam fold for Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas was a Columbia man. The ace MC's former label has compiled a dozen of Nas' pre-Dead "greatest hits," tacked on two bonus cuts, named it Greatest Hits, and pressed the collection for release on November 6. Not surprisingly, the set leans heavily on Illmatic, with a few highlights from the rest of Nas' Columbia catalogue thrown in for good measure.
There's a pair of new tracks, too, sort of: the Cee-Lo laced "Less Than an Hour", which first appeared on this summer's Rush Hour 3 soundtrack, and opener "Surviving the Times", which appears here for the first time anywhere.And, as any frequent peruser of the world wide interweb is no doubt aware by now, Nas has stirred up quite some controversy with the title he's chosen for his next LP of new material: Nigger. Nas stood by his choice in a recent interview with mtv.com, however, concluding "We're taking power from that word." It's well worth reading the whole interview; at the very least, check out the portion excerpted here:
"I'm a street disciple. I'm talking to the streets. Stay out of our business. You ain't got no business worrying about what the word 'nigger' is or acting like you know what my album is about without talking to me. Whether you in the NAACP or you Jesse Jackson. I respect all of them...I just want them to know: Never fall victim to Fox. Never fall victim to the shit they do. What they do is try to hurry up and get you on the phone and try to get you to talk about something you might not know about yet.
"If Cornell West was making an album called Nigger, they would know he's got something intellectual to say. To think I'm gonna say something that's not intellectual is calling me a nigger, and to be called a nigger by Jesse Jackson and the NAACP is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary."I wanna make the word easy on muthafuckas' ears. You see how white boys ain't mad at 'cracker' 'cause it don't have the same [sting] as 'nigger'? I want 'nigger' to have less meaning [than] 'cracker.' With all the bullshit that's going on in the world, racism is at its peak. I wanna do the shit that's not being done. I wanna be the artist who ain't out. I wanna make the music I wanna hear.
"We're taking power from the word. No disrespect to none of them who were part of the civil-rights movement, but some of my niggas in the streets don't know who [civil-rights activist] Medgar Evers was. I love Medgar Evers, but some of the niggas in the streets don't know Medgar Evers, they know who Nas is. And to my older people who don't now who Nas is and who don't know what a street disciple is, stay outta this muthafuckin' conversation. We'll talk to you when we're ready. Right now, we're on a whole new movement. We're taking power from that word."
The LP is due December 11 via Def Jam and is expected to feature production work from Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Toomp, and long-time Nas associate Salaam Remi, according to mtv.com.
Though Nas' tour itinerary-- like that of most rappers-- is a little tough to pin down, he's got a few Australian shows lined up in the weeks to come. Hip-hop may be dead, but those frequent flyer miles don't expire until the new year.
01 Surviving the Times
02 Less Than an Hour [ft. Cee-Lo]
03 It Ain't Hard to Tell
04 Life's a Bitch [ft. AZ]
05 NY State of Mind
06 One Love
07 If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) [ft. Lauryn Hill]
08 Street Dreams (Remix) [ft. R. Kelly]
09 Hate Me Now [ft. Puff Daddy]
10 One Mic
11 Got Ur Self a...
12 Made You Look
13 I Can
14 Bridging the Gap [ft. Olu Dara]
11-24 St Kilda, Australia - Palais Theatre
11-25 Perth, Australia - Metro City
11-26 Adelaide, Australia - Thebarton Theatre
11-30 Sydney, Australia - Luna Park
12-01 Brisbane, Australia - The Arena
Video: Nas: Can't Forget About You [from the Hip Hop Is Dead LP]