The Classic: "Thief's Theme"

Five years after the original double album blueprint for I Am… was chopped up and sold for parts, Nas finally got to release the 26-song album of his dreams. Unfortunately, it was not anyone else’s idea of a dream. Street’s Disciple is more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book: There’s such an abundance of good and bad material that you’re welcome to mix and match according to your personal taste. That said, “Thief’s Theme” is a song that would make anyone’s short list. Over a heavy-fuzz interpretation of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (performed by the Incredible Bongo Band), Nas conjures a squall of felonious language.

The Stinker: "Getting Married"

For some reason, Nas thought it would be a good idea to use the same stream-of consciousness technique that propelled his crime narratives to talk about his marriage to Kelis, but the only criminal aspect of “Getting Married” is the idea that anyone wanted to hear about Nas’ wedding: “Maxwell gon’ sing, invited Lauryn Hill and the gang!” OK, dude, but we came for a rap song, not an episode of The Real Housewives of Queensbridge.

The Buried Treasure: "Sekou Story"

Buried deep in the midsection of Street’s Disciple is “Sekou Story,” the album’s best song and one of the most ingenious compositions of Nas’ career. Over a beat lifted from a 1988 track by the Dismasters, Nas spins a tale of a Miami drug kingpin before the song suddenly switches beats—and points-of-view—as the kingpin’s wife bursts onto the track with the news of her husband’s death, screaming “Who gon’ hold me down now?” It’s an incredibly bold, fully formed narrative that flashes by in less than three minutes: a disarming reminder of Nas’ innate acuity as a storyteller.