Sunday, April 23, 2006

Nasir Jones

I don't really know what to say about this one. For many people, Life is Like a Dice Game represents the Holy Grail of Nas' unreleased material: first, you have a beat that packs a Jaws of Life-sized dose of get-you-open, calm but with a bounce; then you have a hook that etches itself into your ears immediately, calm but with a bounce; and finally, there's Nas at that bridge between Illmatic and It Was Written, calm but with a bounce. Calm but with a bounce? See, Life is Like a Dice Game is similar to getting whiplash in slow motion, and wanting more. It's a head nodder, but there's also more than just hype. It has a reflective feel to it, but escapes the contrived lows of many trying-too-hard-to-say-something songs. This exact balance is what Nas found very often in his early days. (I place Dice Game from sometime in the late summer of 1994.) However, maybe the most frustrating thing here is that not only is it unreleased, but, as Nas trails off at the end into freestyle form, we're not even really blessed with a whole verse. This is what separates the Lost Tapes from the Lost Ark.

Yo . . .yeah . . .
It's that Queens shit, the real shit . . .
Illmatic . . .
It's the N-A-S, yes . . .yo . . .

I wake up every morning
Thinking what we gon' do today
(What we gon' do today)
There's got to be a better way
(Got to be a better way)
To maintain is the price of fame
Life is like a dice game
(Maintain is the price of fame)
Life is like a dice game

1,2 . . .
I never knock a brother
I'm anti-jail for real
Smooth criminal skill
Locked in a human flesh shield
Watching niggas get rich beside me
Pushing a 5 B-Y me
Up in the passenger seat
But I see me as Hallie Selassie in my kingdom
Sipping Asti Spumante
Dripped in, reality kicks in
I need the papes to start clicking
Got a connect out in Richmond
Every nigga in the fam will pitch it
It's on, word is bond
That's my name, big Nas
All wise to civilize
From the Northern Hemisphere of the earth
Peace to my seed and thanks for her birth
Destiny, that's her name
It's going on
You know my name
Big Nas in the house, y'all
On the freestyle tip
When I finish this shit
It's sure to be a hit
Peace . . .

Nas: Life is Like a Dice Game
Nas: Life is Like a Dice Game (instrumental)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes , the HOLY GRAIL and the APOCOLYPSE all wrapped in this right here solidified to me personally why NAS is light years ahead of any rappper on the face of earth, i love this track i first heard it in like 97 i think on a JLOVE "Best of NAS" mixtape, the quality was horrible, but it didn't matter , it was too dope to ignore. thanks Bausch!

by the way this SUGE KNIGHT JR.(SOHH)

April 23, 2006 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

One of my favourite unreleased's for sure. This, Good Morning, Serious, and Number One With A Bullet.

In terms of the lyrics I see no flaws, other than one I see constantly: not having each line of lyrics represent one bar from the song. But it makes no difference. Just a pet peeve of mine.

Props on the instro especially here.

April 23, 2006 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent track, someone knows who produced it?

April 24, 2006 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

number one with a bullet? another title for that specific track? and I didnt even know J-love did a best of Nas mixtape back in 07,thats whassup!

April 24, 2006 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*back in 97*

April 24, 2006 7:52 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Colin, yeah, the lyrics layout I think has something to do w/ me being anal about organization. So I write that way in part because of how it sounds, but mostly 'cause of how it looks. The line breaks, general balance of one line to the next, is all in some slight effort for symetry.

But you like Number One With A Bullet that much? It's a cool track and all, but I wouldn't put it near my top 5 unreleased Nas songs. I guess Nas does have a certain authority in his voice that's attractive, and the Charles Manson line was good. I think he used "stone crook / phone book" better on the WKCR freestyle. I wasn't even planning on doing an entry on it, but if you like it that much, get in contact w/ me (email), and you try a guest contribution if you want.

Side Note: look at how the Bullet verse features about 7 or 8 name drops and more similes / punchlines than Nas is known for. You can see this on Haltime, Live at the Barbeque, the OG version of It Ain't Hard To Tell (Nas Will Prevail), etc. It's a style that he used earlier on but discarded for most of Illmatic and the rest of his career. Just an interesting point.

Anonymous, I don't know who produced this, and that's the case with most unreleased tracks. But if I had to go out on a limb about Dice Game's producer, I'd say LES, which probably wouldn't be most people's guesses. However, it'd be a good followup to his sampling The Gap Band on Life's A Bitch.

BTW, this samples Norman Connor's Valentine Love:

And Number One With A Bullet is another unreleased track alongside Kool G. Rap & Whiteboy.

April 24, 2006 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

If you wanted to just leave a vacancy for something about Number One With A Bullet. I could do something eventually. But I have a lot of work to do over the next week. I'll e-mail you if I ever get something of significance down.

And I mainly like it for the hard-hitting beat and the way the entire song just sounds. Not for any particular lyrical reason. But I'll expand on that in a guest spot I suppose. ;)

"serial killer, who works by the phonebook"

April 24, 2006 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nas is a beast

November 22, 2006 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nas is the best Nas is the KIng he is a great MC

December 23, 2006 6:06 AM  

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