The history of The Curse (as I know it): In 1999, there existed some mysterious I Am sampler. On this sampler, was a snippet, "The Curse." Unfortunately, when it came time to release I Am, a full-length copy of The Curse did not appear, nor did it appear on any of the many bootleg versions of that ill-fated album. Furthermore, it was never leaked to J-Love, Clue, or online. Seven years later, all we still have is that original less-than-ninety-second sense of where the track was going. However, due to its macabre tone ("the child of Medusa's risen") and lyrical peculiarities ("my mom fought off bats, giant size"), The Curse remains the number one digital wet dream for many a Nas fan.
The history of The Saints (as I know it): In late 2005, featured on both Dirty Harry and Killah Priest mixtapes, thanks to a song entitled The Saints, with a beat from Dirty Harry and an introduction appropriately by Killah Priest, the infamous Curse verse made its way into the spotlight once more. Fans celebrated, cynics asked, "was this just a blend?" Well, last year Nas respit a couple older verses (Live at the Barbeque on the Living Legends mixtape; Blackness redone as We March As Millions), and there are two variations from the original lyrics ("Slipping" becomes "Niggas slipping"; "till MCs get the curse" becomes "till MCs feel it hurts"), so probably not.
What does this all mean? I like The Curse, maybe even a lot, but I'm not going to sign my will over to it; and if its history ended on a Killah Priest mixtape, in its most recent form, I wouldn't be so mad. The first half of that verse, up until about "twisted snake heads you should envision", is quintessential dope. The second half, while containing some stark visuals, drops off in the same way that Ghetto Prisoners, also from a '99 recording time, did: part good, the rest rambling. Also, just like Ghetto Prisoners, the beat and hook are rather poor. But, as I said, it still has inspired unparalleled pins and needles anticipation from Nas' staunchest supporters, and even I want to hear what, if anything, lives beyond the fade out.
My pen's a paintbrush with coloring books of gangstasNas: The Curse
Hoes who never changes, tampons stinking
Hot as a bullet that went in Abe Lincoln
The page is the inkaholic, addict for drinking
Killah Priest f/ Nas: The Saints