The 30 Greatest Hip-Hop Demos

#2. Nas, Two Song Demo (1991)

Nas "I'm A Villain"

Nas "Nas Will Prevail"

Bonus Tracks (Not on demo but mentioned below)

Nas "Just Another Day In the Projects"

Nas f/ Kool G. Rap & Whiteboy "Number One With A Bullet "


The Nasty Nas 1991 Demo Tape—sometimes referred to as Prematic—is a great collection of early, largely unreleased Nas material, but accuracy-wise it’s problematic. Of the ten tracks included more than half (including “Déja Vu’s” test run of the guest verse from Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse”) were recorded post-1991, some even post-1994. What remains appears to be of more convincing vintage. “Number One With a Bullet” (featuring Kool G Rap and White Boy) was, according to Illmatic executive producer MC Serch, a byproduct of unconsummated business flirtations with Cold Chillin’. In part an early draft of “New York State of Mind,” the superb “Just Another Day In the Projects” previews the storytelling sophistication so intrinsic to Illmatic.

However, as Serch recalls only the dual Large Professor productions “I’m a Villain” (a JBs-sampled beat Extra P had originally reserved for Rakim, but gave to Nas when the Mic God was a no-show at Power Play Studios that particular session) and “Nas Will Prevail” (a.k.a. the OG “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”) are from Nas’ actual demo. The former features lyrics later used on Illmatic’s “One Time 4 Your Mind” and “Represent.” The latter, a signature Stretch and Bobbito exclusive, remains one of the all-time demo classics, as a teenaged Nas flows with a charisma and assuredness far beyond his years.

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