The Classic: "Can't Forget About You"

The concept was an overblown, unnecessary gimmick for a rap album, but it also gave us songs that showed Nas was no longer straining to live up to his legend. “Can’t Forget About You” is both breezy and substantial—a rare song of contentment and acceptance from an artist who never seemed particularly content or satisfied. The song could have easily turned self-congratulatory but instead it feels sweet, a quality underscored by its golden-hued sample (from Nat King Cole!) and the lithe manner in which Nas delivers the hook: “Nas, the millionaire, the mansion/When was the last time you heard your boy Nas rhyme?/ Never on schedule, but always on time.”

The Stinker: "Who Killed It?"

Nas’ restless creativity and search for new ideas was admirable but hazardous. You need no further evidence than “Who Killed It?,” the song for which Nas made the executive decision to rhyme in the voice of the 1930s gangster movie star Edward G. Robinson—for the entire duration of the song. What could have been a cool concept for a single line became an everlasting train wreck.

The Buried Treasure: "Still Dreaming"

Produced by Kanye West, “Still Dreaming” is the sort of smooth and wholesome track that every fan wishes Nas made more of. It doesn’t feel overworked or overproduced. Instead, it has that off-the-cuff camaraderie—that sense that “we’re just rapping, let’s wing it”—that marked many of Kanye’s early productions. In two verses Nas conjures a tale of a duplicitous, drug-addicted female. For all its complexity, it’s the kind of story that Nas could conceivably improvise in a single take.