The entire hip-hop world knows (well, except Lonzo Ball) that Nas has been delivering classic songs, verses, albums, and even movies since his verse on Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ.” Fifteen years ago, the self-proclaimed God’s Son released an educative classic with The Lost Tapes, a 12-song LP that’s supposedly made up of throwaway tracks.
Veteran hip-hop journalist John F. Kennedy took a trip down memory lane–pun intended– by penning an informative oral history of Esco’s The Lost Tapes, which you can find over at MassAppeal.com. Lost Tapes gave us songs such as the edifying track “Doo Rags,” the champion anthem “My Way,” the profound conversation-starter on the introspective “U Gotta Love It,’ and we can’t forget the mean story about the honey dip who snorted crushed glass, in which she thought was cocaine on “Blaze a 50,” and many others.
Kennedy spoke with major players of the Lost Tapes such as Nas, producers Rockwilder, L.E.S, Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, among others, to find out how this masterpiece came together.
Check out excerpts from Kennedy’s “That Was An Uncanny Era: An Oral History of Nas’ ‘The Lost Tapes’ below.
Poke of Trackmasters (Co-producer of “Fetus,” “Drunk By Myself” and “Blaze a 50”): We recorded a lot of records at one time, back to back. Nas didn’t even want these records to come out. All of these records were at The Hit Factory and they started leaking. It was like 40 records, just out there. Sometimes A&Rs would have a DAT tape in their office, next thing you know that shit wanders and fucking [Funkmaster] Flex is blasting off to it. Clue and fucking [DJ] Doo Wop had the shit on their mixtapes. It was getting out of control so we had to capitalize on the fact that it was out there and niggas was feeling that shit.
DJ Doo Wop (Mixtape DJ): In the street, people were fiending for that new Nas. All of the DJs was trying to get the shit. There was definitely a big anticipation.
Nas (Rapper): I was never totally pissed off, because people was able to enjoy the songs. I was always happy about that.
Nicholson (VP of A&R of The Lost Tap): I discussed the Lost Tapes idea with Nas and he loved it. As long as he could put it together in a sequence the way he’d do his normal albums, it would be great. I don’t think that it mattered what was out before, because you receive it differently when you have a body of work. That’s why we didn’t release a single. We didn’t want to piecemeal it, we wanted them to absorb the full project. This was something that Nas was very adamant about.
Nas: I wanted people to hear ’em in the proper way. I had so many songs lying around that are weird that I wouldn’t want anybody to hear—I [was] embarrassed.
Read the oral history in its entirety over at Mass Appeal.