The Classic: "Made You Look"

“Made You Look” was the first song that revived the rowdy, cloudy vigor of the teenage Nas without simply aping the sound of the early 1990s. Salaam Remi is a sophisticated producer blessed with uncommon musicality. So when he opted to deliver Nas something as raw as “Made You Look,” the results had depth and dimension. It’s not simply a dope loop. Not since “Live At the Barbeque” had Nas jumped on a beat with this much gusto—like he was jumping onto a moving train car just as it reached cruising speed.

The Stinker: "Hey Nas"

If “Made You Look” harkened back to Nas in his lean and hungry prime, “Hey Nas” felt like an attempt to revive the most fallow period of his career: the late 1990s. The beat is canned, the hook is horrific, but the rhymes? By now we all knew that sweet talk was not Nas’ strong suit but even his deepest detractor never thought we’d hear him rhapsodizing about “tongue and hickeys.” To close, it must also be pointed out that this song boasts a couplet in which Nas rhymes “energy” with “energy.” Need more be said?

The Buried Treasure: "Get Down"

“Get Down” was the song for which we’d been waiting since “Hate Me Now” had obliterated any hope for subtlety in the career of Nasir Jones. Over a completely naturalistic and understated loop of James Brown's cushion-soft (yet street tough) “The Boss,” Nas showed that supreme nonchalance is the mark of a true master.