“Death Row East”
“Back when Jungle told Pac, ‘it’s on’ soon as we walk up out this
Picket signs, Outlawz outside the music hall
Bunch of ghetto superstars really down to lose it all.”
Nas paints the picture of a tumultuous time in hip-hop. In the height of the east coast vs. west coast beef, Tupac confronts Nas to settle things backstage at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards only 9 days before being fatally shot in Las Vegas.
Nas describes he and his peers as rich project baby’s, living their lives as if they have nothing to lose, despite them having the world in the palm of their hands; Nas’s entourage outside radio City Music Hall where tensions were still high as Tupac attempted to squash the beef.
“If Chapelle moved to Ghana to find his peace, then I’m Rollin Where the service always roamin’, I’m packin’ my bags and goin.”
Nas and the legendary Ms. Lauren Hill open up about becoming reclusive due to life of fame. “Once city, one country one state, someplace to be nobody,” Nas exclaims on the refrain. Known to stray away from the city, living in Long Island and Atlanta before recently relocating to Los Angeles, Nas longs for some solace.
Lauryn Hill, who took a hiatus from music due to the overwhelming perils of fame, reflects on her breaks from the spotlight in her verse. Starting off with “All my time has been focused on,y freedom now. Why would I join me when I know I can beat ‘em now?” Hill appreciates the freedom she has taken back for herself, staying out of the public eye.
“My crew choose violence, move in silence Who knew I’d grow to build an empire.”
On “Store Run,” Nas reflects on his life as an adolescent back in Queensbridge. Back in the day when Nas was running the projects, taking runs to the corner store for 40s, blunts, and chips. Now he can look out on the city he once ran on the top of his penthouse building.
“Yo, as I’m looking at the New York skyline, reminiscing on night-time, shootouts with my guy pouring out white wine,” Nas says, going into the second verse on the track, where he says he should be mentioned in the same breath as Mick Jagger and Bono.
“Mentally, I’m in Queens ,More money more problems, you gotta be ready for all that brings.”
In the lead single to the album “Rare,” Nas sets the tone for the album’s theme of the album, life as a King. Nas’s lifestyle comes with a lot; sure, it is romanticized and celebrated, but with more respect comes more responsibility.
“No Phony Love”
“And I already rolled two waiting for you to roll through (Pull up), She lookin’ at me like you need a queen in your lifeYou can’t be single for life; she tried to read me my rights.”
Nas recruits Charlie Wilson for the love song, “No Phony Love.” The track finds Nas rapping about his want for a relationship. Of course, every King needs a Queen; Nas paints the picture of what he sees in a perfect relationship, his best friend, a confidant, and a muse. The track features some classic vocals from the legend, Charlie Wilson.