Year: 2006
Original Label: Columbia
New Label: Def Jam

Why They Left: After the release of his seventh studio album, Street's Disciple, Nas' contract with Columbia was up and he was a free agent. But he was in a curious moment in his career: After an epic feud with Jay-Z, regardless of the victor, both still had relevant careers. A bonus was that their feud had remained on wax, and never got physical. Still, they shocked the world when Jay-Z threw a show misleadingly called "I Declare War" in October 2005 and brought Nas on stage to squash the beef. By 2006, with Jay as the president of Def Jam and Nas a free agent, Nasir opted to sign to the label Russell and Rubin built.

Career After They Left: The Def Jam years have largely been kind to Nas. His output hasn't always been met with open arms, but it's certainly better regarded than some of his late '90s work. More impressively, Nas has remained a relevant figure and important hip-hop voice through his four Def Jam-helmed albums, including last year's well received Life Is Good, whiles many other '90s stars have seen their careers falter.