I Am (1999)
The Classic: "Nas Is Like"
I Am… announced a new peak of self-aggrandizement with its cover: Nas as an Egyptian pharaoh cast in solid gold. The single “Nas Is Like” was as lean and agile as “Hate Me Now” was grandiose. Nas’ best line served as a wild contradiction of the Egyptian affluence portrayed in the cover art: “But what's it all worth, can't take it with you under this Earth/Rich men died and tried, but none of it worked/They just rob your grave, I'd rather be alive and paid.”
The Stinker: "Dr. Knockboot"
“Dr. Knockboot” makes a good case why rappers shouldn’t be sex columnists. As if the conceit of a “Do’s and Don’ts of Sex” wasn’t corny enough, every piece of advice Nas offers is embedded with some sort of unsavory implication. Make sure to wear a condom—from “your local bodega”? Get a “confirmation before penetration”—or else she’ll lie about rape to steal your money? Hit the pussy—“if that shit’s blisterin’”? Thanks but no thanks, Dr. Nas.
The Buried Treasure: "Undying Love"
Because I Am… was conceived as a double album, there was an overflow of material, and just by virtue of sheer odds, there was plenty of gold mixed in with the scrap metal. “Undying Love” is one of several songs that shows Nas can flow over an acoustic guitar like no other rapper. This is also one of rap's most more poetic portrayal of being cuckolded: “I walked in through the back door entrance/Shocked it was unlocked, when I walked in, I smelled incense/Chased by a weed aroma, empty Guinnesses/And lipstick marks on like three empty Coronas/A pair of blue jeans on the carpet; size 12 Timberlands/Something swinging on the ceiling fan, I stopped it/Swinging slower and slower/On the last swing I saw it was a G-string and heard laughing…”