April 06, 2017

Nas "I Am ... The Autobiography" (Billboard, 1999)

Nas I Am Billboard April 3, 1999

I Am...’ was to be Nas’ first double-disc album. He’d recorded over 60 tracks, many of which were leaked and bootlegged. 'At first, I wanted to cry,’ says Nas of the bootlegging. ‘But after a while, I realized how much they wanted me back. It assured me that what I’ve done over the years has been recognized by the streets. With so many other artists coming out, you forget that, and get lost in the storm.’ Much of his best work from those bootlegs ended up on ‘The Lost Tapes’ project in 2002. I still have 3 of the original 12” white labels from that, which are so important to me, they deserve their own post. In the end, both 'I Am...' and his follow-up 'Nastradamus' were disjointed and the new tracks he'd recorded were not near the triumphant return the streets had imagined. Fortunately, we had the bootlegs and, once you remove Puff (unless you have the promo 12" version) and Timbaland, focus in on DJ Premier and Al West, you find there are a few redemptive moments on 'I Am...' History tells the full story of how bootlegging and contractual obligations - maybe a shot at Steve Stoute also - put stretch marks on this release, but Nas has always remained in my top 5 and neither time nor any Ginuwine track (let's not test this theory again) can knock him off that list. The article above was printed in Billboard Magazine on April 3, 1999, with 'I Am...' being released 18 years ago today via Columbia Records. Do you have any thoughts on this LP? Revisit it below...

... and one last advertisement from "I Am." 

Nas I Am Advert 1999