The Unkut Guide To Nas Singing


Nas luhs to rap. But he also luhs to sing hooks. Having declared that he was the “first nigga to sing a hook on some TJ Swan shit” on “Nastradumus”, it’s only right that his crooning efforts are rated using the Unkut TJ Swan Rating System (c) during this scientific study of his efforts to make like the rap game Keith Sweat over the years.

Mobb Deep feat. Nas –It’s Mine

Rocking yet another Scarface loop in 1999 with a sung Nas hook was kinda played out in theory, but it’s hard to dislike the outlandish flamboyance of any song that features the line “Halle Berry blew me a kiss at the Barbara Streisand concert.”


AZ feat. Nas –Gimme Yours

This off-key take on I-Level‘s 1982 dancefloor winner “Take Me” takes on an eerie quality over Pete Rock‘s trippy Minnie Ripperton loop comes together to give AZ one of his most enduring songs.


Nas –Me and You

Despite the best of intentions, this is one of the less effective ode’s to rap daughters ever recorded, and one of Nas’ worst attempts at harmonizing to boot. You couldn’t make your daughter’s graduation? Really?


Alchemist feat Nas and Prodigy –Tick Tock

This hook gets an extra point for talking about dudes getting stuck for their watches.


Capone-N-Noeaga feat. Tragedy and Nas –Calm Down

A true classic of Queensbridge rap, everything about this track is greatness. From the verses to the EZ Elpee beat to the reworking of Evelyn “Champagne” King‘s “Love Come Down” hook.


Nas –Dance

It’s wrong to slander a song dedicated to a dude’s mother after she passed away, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it either. While there’s certainly a lot of emotion in the hook, it’s also a little over-ambitious considering his vocal range.


Nas –My Country

Horrible beat, horrible hook. I can’t mess with this at all.


Nas –Undying Love

Storytelling Nas and one his more ambitious efforts at singing (double tracked and the whole nine), this gets a pass.


Nas –Stay Scheming

Dipping into the well of Kurtis Blow once again, this is sounds like something you might kick at a party after a lot of Henny and weed rather than actual recording.


Nas –Street Dreams

Compared to the R. Kelly version from the video, this interpolation of Eurythmics‘ “Sweet Dreams” seems kinda cheesy.


Nas feat. JoJo –Black Girl Lost

Having JoJo from Joedeci singing over his part is kind of cheating, but at least Nas realised he wasn’t built for this hook alone and enlisted a professional.


Nas –Nastradamus

Can’t really eff with this one. How do you use the “JB’s Monorail” loop and make a weak song? The whole “Nasty to Esco to Esobar” concept didn’t really fly, and nor did his singing on this one.


Nas feat. Doug E. Fresh & Ludacris – “Virgo”

I’m not mad at Nas doing his best Slick Rick impersonation on this old school throwback, and he carries the tune far better than Luda.


Nas –Black Zombie

This Lost Tapes gem finds Nasir really trying to sing properly, and thanks to some studio wizardry he sounds pretty good.


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8 Comments so far
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Street Dreams and Gimme Yours both should’ve gotten 5 Keith Sweats!

Comment by brian beck 04.08.14 @

Nas is annoying. Yeah yeah yeah I know it’s blasphemy. Whatever. He has a couple of classic albums and many classic songs. I’ll give him that. He has dope concepts and stories. I’ll give him that. But his singing sucks, his track record sucks, his commercial attempts are horrible. He stays losing(idk what’s said about the jay-z battle). He’s the under dog and everyone roots for the under dog even when they lose. Always “buts” when they lose. Hip Hop built him up so much that now no one wants to admit when this dude comes off wack. It’s the Mary J. Blige effect. I’d rather listen to Killa Sha.

Comment by MalMoe 04.08.14 @

I feel like something has to be missing from this list but I can’t put my finger on it.. great write up, haha.. I definitely think Calm Down and Tick Tock are perfect executions of a sung Hip Hop hook..

Comment by LEX 04.09.14 @

@ LEX:

I figured out what’s missing. “Poppa Was A Player”, which is 4 TJ Swans, easily.

Comment by oskamadison 04.10.14 @

He also sang on the original version of Nore’s I Love My Life.

Comment by silent minority 04.11.14 @

^ Good thing they replaced his hook with Carl Thomas.

Comment by Larry Legend 04.22.14 @

I Wanna Talk to You
Papa Was a Player (Ron Isley free version)

Comment by 357 Nyc 04.23.14 @

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