Nas - I Am... 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Jason Karsh   
Tuesday, 06 April 1999

I Am . . .,
Columbia Records
| Performance 7.5 | Sound 8 |

Ardent hip-hop supporters really want to love this album. It is the first from one of the art’s best lyricists since his 1996 sophomore release, 'It Was Written,' and it is ostensibly the album that will finally give both underground and radio fans everything they want. However, it’s tough to expect little less than a classic after Nas’ astonishing debut, the precedent setting, instant classic ‘Illmatic’ and you can't please all of the people all of the time. Nevertheless, this album is probably as close to a classic as the world was going to get with the variety that’s on it. This is to say that, originally the word was that this was supposed to be a double album, instead we now have ‘I Am . . .’ on the shelves today, and ‘Nastrdamus,’ scheduled for an October release. Who knows why it’s worked out like this, but what we do know is that on this album Nas was going to get the chance to do pretty much whatever he wished.

What results is a sixteen song album that just might have been that instant classic were it cut down to twelve. Particular triumphs here include the DJ Premier produced "Nas Is Like," and "N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II" as well "Undying Love," and the Southwestern flavored "Favor For A Favor," featuring Scarface. The radio cut "Hate Me Now," is also remarkable simply from the fact that Nas’ superior talent and ability to get visual outshines Puff Daddy’s attempts to hamstring the song from the outset. If ever a rap album could be crushed by expectations, it would be this one. Yet, if you don’t look for this album to be the greatest album ever made, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

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