A king has returned. Following his head-scratching collab with Kanye West, Nas bounces back. The QueensBridge emcee’s third compilation album is a relative return to form. Although his greatest years are behind him, Nasty Nas can still carry an album. In the age of sequels this one holds its weight. As long as they understand what year it is currently, this album will not disappoint long-time fans. However, it will not change your opinion on the legendary spitter either. His delivery across Lost Tapes 2 is much sharper than on his previous record. The songs here are snapshot perspectives of the most recent update of Nasir Jones. They symbolize signature traits of his illustrious career. A contemplative motivator and spiritual OG (“Adult Film” / “War Against Love”). Arguably hip-hop’s best storyteller and its first prodigy (“QueensBridge Politics” / “Jarreau of Rap (Skatt Attack)”). Nas has had a truly magical life.
That being said, The Lost Tapes 2 isn’t quite as amazing as I thought it was at first. Aside from my fondness for it, its appeal lessened over time. After one listen it was the follow-up for which I yearned. “Lost Freestyle,” “Tanasia,” and “Who Are You,” featuring David Ranier, were tracks I saw myself running back in the near future. And there are more I continue to enjoy. Nevertheless, there are aspects in nearly every song here that needed some tweaking, in my opinion. I would have preferred to hear a feminine backup vocal on the hook of “Tanasia.” That deep synth hiding in the background of “You Mean the World to Me” is quite hideous amongst the light, dreamy soul piano vignette. And somebody should have reminded these producers of one important thing. Which is this: Instrumental outros are for when the beat is actually impressive.
While I do like the production here in general, this album could have benefited from an intensive polish. The original Lost Tapes had a mere 11 tracks. This sequel should have followed suit. But I didn’t mind 16 too much. Especially if this record doubles as a swan song. A handful of tracks do sound dated, though. “Vernon Family,” “Royalty,” and, to a lesser degree, “Lost Freestyle” feel about two sonic elements away from greatness. All three induce head-bobbing without question. Yet they lacked a distinctive quality to separate them inside their respective styles. I did, however, find a redeeming attribute in each of these songs even if I won’t be playing them much moving forward. On a fine summer day, I recommend putting this one on shuffle with the windows down. Though flawed, The Lost Tapes 2 is breezy, confident, and full of love.
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