Undeniably one of the greatest rappers to touch a mic, Nasir Jones has been dropping knowledge and straight heat for four straight decades now.

Ever since his game-changing debut verse on Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ,” the Queens rapper has established himself as one of the best rappers alive any year that he decides to grace hip hop with his presence.

From his seminal 1994 debut, widely regarded as the greatest hip hop album of all time , to his latest masterpiece 2022’s King’s Disease III , Nas has put together an enviable catalogue that most rappers could only dream about.

We’re going to explore some his most enduring classics today. From the storytelling brilliance of “N.Y. State of Mind” to the scathing “Ether,” here are the top 50 best Nas songs of all time.

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50
“King’s Disease”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Kings Disease

Released: August 21, 2020

Album: King’s Disease

Producer: Hit-Boy, Corbett, J. Pelham, Pat Junior, Cyanca

After a period of silence, Nas finally bounced back in 2020 with King’s Disease , and on the title track he takes back his crown as hip hop’s ruler. Over some summery Hit-Boy production, this song marked the beginning of a new chapter in Nas’s career alongside the L.A. beatmaker. “King’s Disease” is Nas back in full form, and that makes it historical.

49
“Can’t Forget About You” ft. Chrisette Michele

Nas Cant Forget About You 1024X901

Released: January 23, 2007

Album: Hip Hop Is Dead

Producer: will.i.am

On the nostalgic “Can’t Forget About You,” Nas takes inspiration from Nat King Cole’s classic “Unforgettable,” as he takes rap listeners on a journey through the culture’s history. Chrisette Michele voices the hook and it’s simply mesmerising.

48
“Last Real Ni**a Alive”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Gods Son

Released: December 13, 2002

Album: God’s Son

Producer: Ron Browz

Ignoring the pretty terrible production on this track (courtesy of Ron Browz), Nas is in full storytelling mode right here, weaving a history lesson about the competitive ’90s New York rap scene. From his Cold War with Biggie and the drama involving Wu-Tang to his beef with Jay-Z, Nas spills it all up for the average hip hop head and solidifies his claim for the King of New York throne .

47
“30”

Nas Kings Disease Iii

Released: November 11, 2022

Album: King’s Disease III

Producer: Hit-Boy

A definition of a banger from God’s Son. The most recent track on this list off Nas’ excellent King’s Disease III , “30” is just straight flexing from the Queensbridge OG. Hit-Boy laces the blazing production and Nas reminds us that he’s been doing this shit for 30 straight summers.

46
“Money Over Bullshit”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Hip Hop Is Dead

Released: December 19, 2006

Album: Hip Hop Is Dead

Producer: Wyldfyer & L.E.S.

“Money Over Bullshit” opened up Nas’ controversial 8th album and it sounds like the soundtrack for a war march, which is fitting because it felt like he going up against the entire Southern rap scene with the album . Nas makes sure to remind every other MC in the game he’s not to be trifled with.

45
“Undying Love”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Nas I Am

Released: April 6, 1999

Album: I Am…

Producer:

One of hip hop’s finest storytellers crafts a haunting tale about returning from a trip to Las Vegas to surprise his fiancée, only to find her in bed with another man. The story ends with four dead bodies, including a murder-suicide, and one of the most vivid scenes Nas has ever painted with his pen. Considering the fact that his baby mama Carmen Bryan was known to cheat on him in the past, Nas must have been drawing on some real-life experiences here.

44
“Come Get Me”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Nastradamus

Released: November 23, 1999

Album: Nastradamus

Producer: DJ Premier

One of the few shining moments on Nastradamus , Preemo samples “We’re Just Trying to Make It” by The Persuaders and laces Nas with some ill production so that he can fire a few subliminal shots at the Roc-A-Fella crew.

43
“Strong Will Continue” w/ Damian Marley

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Distant Relatives

Released: April 13, 2010

Album: Distant Relatives

Producer: Damian Marley

Nas’ 2010 collaboration album with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives , is one of the most overlooked projects in his extensive catalogue (although that can be forgiven considering the strength of his discography ). On “Strong Will Continue,” Nas pours out his feelings in the last verse talking about his recent divorce, paying child support and his journey from Queensbridge to the good life.

42
“Dance”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Gods Son

Released: December 13, 2002

Album: God’s Son

Producer: Chucky Thompson

One of the most heartfelt songs in Nas’ catalogue, “Dance” finds the legendary MC pay tribute to his mother Fannie Ann Jones who passed away the same year it was released. Nas’ father, Olu Dara, also shows up at the end of the track to play an emotional solo.

41
“No Introduction”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Life Is Good

Released: July 17, 2012

Album: Life is Good

Producer: J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League

Nas sets off his eleventh album, Life is Good , is the perfect fashion with an epic J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production as he narrates his early childhood at PS 111, robbing a train at 16 years old and having conversations with Big in his Lexus truck. Ironically enough, this is one of Nas’ best intro songs ever.

40
“Street Dreams (Remix)” ft. R. Kelly

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Street Dreams

Released: October 22, 1996

Album: N/A

Producer: Trackmasters

There’s only one word that can describe this, and that word is soulful. This smooth song is the closest Nas ever got to a full-on R&B cut, with R. Kelly on the hook and a silky beat you’d expect to find on a Brandy Norwood record. Even though Nas admits Biggie’s collab with R. Kelly was better, there’s no denying the duo of Nas and Kelly go together perfectly.

39
“Bridging the Gap”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Bridging

Released: October 5, 2004

Album: Street’s Disciple

Producer: Salaam Remi

Nas taps his father, jazz-blues musician Olu Dara, for the second time in his recording career for the assist on “Bridging the Gap.” A bluesy composition that samples Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” the autobiographical track is a highlight on the uneven Street’s Disciple .

38
“N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Nas I Am

Released: March 2, 1999

Album: I Am…

Producer: DJ Premier

Making a sequel to a track as iconic as “N.Y. State of Mind” was a bold move, but of course, Nas pulls it off. DJ Premier is back with another hypnotic piano loop with Nas delivering some classic storytelling about brutality in New York. Sequels can be disappointments at times, but this track is deserving of its title, living up to all that hype.

37
“Car #85” ft. Charlie Wilson

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Kings Disease

Released: August 21, 2020

Album: King’s Disease

Producer: Hit-Boy

Nas is no stranger to reminiscing on his youth in the dope game, but it’s rarely as heartfelt as this. On “Car #85”, Nas takes the listener in the passenger seat and drives them through some old memories, with Charlie Wilson adding a soulful twist to the track. Almost thirty years into the game, Nas hadn’t lost his touch for telling a good story.

36
“One Time 4 Your Mind”

25 Greatest Years In Hip Hop History Illmatic

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: Large Professor

Not every track is going to be a hard-hitting banger about crime in New York, but even when Nas is just rapping about chilling in his neighbourhood, he’s slicker than most rappers could ever dream to be. “One Time 4 Your Mind” may be the weakest song off Illmatic , but it would be the best track on most rappers’ LPs. That just goes to show the consistency of Nas in his prime.

35
“Live Ni**a Rap” ft. Mobb Deep

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales It Was Written

Released: July 2, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: Havoc

“Live Ni**a Rap” was originally meant for Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth , but it was a song so good Nas had to have it for It Was Written . Nas sounds like the secret third member of Mobb Deep – he’s that comfortable on the mic with Havoc and Prodigy, bouncing off them over a grimy beat that no other rappers could master.

34
“Get Down”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Gods Son

Released: December 13, 2002

Album: God’s Son

Producer: Nas, Salaam Remi

If you want to feel like you’re back in the funky ‘70s, look no further than “Get Down” and its looping James Brown sample. Nas tells story after story about all the odd characters he’s met from New York to Los Angeles. With limitless rhymes and a library worth of stories to tell, Nas sounds unstoppable.

33
“Poppa Was a Playa”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Lost Tapes

Released: September 23, 2002

Album: The Lost Tapes

Producer: Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Kanye West (co.)

In classic Nas fashion, this song makes the listener feel like they’re hearing an audiobook instead of a rap record because the storytelling is that vivid. With each verse, Nas explores another kind of father figure – the good and bad – making for one of his most personal tracks to date. With some triumphant Kanye production to back him up, there was no better way to close off The Lost Tapes .

32
“Rewind”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Large Professor

How many rappers can claim they rapped a story in reverse? It sounds so effortless for Nas that you would think he raps backwards all the time. On “Rewind”, he guides the listener through an average day of sex and violence, starting with the ending where he and his buddy shoot down the opposition. This is a track so good you have to run it back a dozen times to catch every detail.

31
“Black President”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Untitled

Released: July 15, 2008

Album: Untitled

Producer: DJ Green Lantern

Back in 2008, this was like the soundtrack to the American election which had everybody nervous, Nas included. On the mic, he juggles his thoughts about whether or not Barack Obama can be trusted, putting a political twist on his lyrics that we never hear enough from the MC. It’s not as gritty as his classic ‘90s songs, but for its unique place in his catalogue, it stands out as a highlight.

30
“Loco-Motive”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Life Is Good

Released: July 13, 2012

Album: Life Is Good

Producer: No I.D.

For all the old-heads who can’t appreciate a second of music past the ‘90s, this song is for them to shut their mouths and move on. By 2012, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nas was sick of fans asking for another Illmatic , but for this one track, he decided to revisit that vintage boom bap style and give the old-heads one last banger before telling them he’s changed.

29
“You’re da Man”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Large Professor

Nas had a lot on his plate in 2001 – his mother was sick, he was feuding with Jay-Z, and fans weren’t feeling his last project, Nastradamus . But with this song, he put the record straight: Nas is the man, he’s got a loving family, and he’s on top of the rap game. What’s to complain about? Over a smooth “Sugar Man” sample, this is as slick as Nas gets.

28
“Hate Me Now” ft. Puff Daddy

Hardest Nas Songs Of All Time Hate Me Now

Released: April 6, 1999

Album: I Am…

Producer: Pretty Boy, D. Moet, Trackmasters

Take some braggadocious bars and put them over an explosion of hardcore production, and you’ve got a song so loud you might mistake it for a DMX track. With Puffy on the hook and Nas yelling his verses, this is him dipping his toes in hardcore hip hop. It’s a shame he never went further with this sound, because “Hate Me Now” will get any crowd rioting.

27
“We Will Survive”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Nas I Am

Released: April 6, 1999

Album: I Am…

Producer: Trackmasters, Jamel Edgerton

On this standout track off the unfairly maligned I Am… , Nas pens an open letter to the departed 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G., lamenting how their absence has affected the rap game. The Queensbridge rapper also takes the opportunity to fire a few shots at Jay-Z too.

26
“Drunk by Myself”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Lost Tapes

Released: September 23, 2002

Album: The Lost Tapes

Producer: Al West & Trackmasters

One of Nas’ most vivid storytelling rap tracks , “Drunk By Myself” is a raw and unflinching look at the rapper’s struggles with depression. Throughout the song, Nas cleverly parallels his own struggles with those of a drunk driver, depicting his inner turmoil, as well as the destructive path he’s on. This is just one of the many great songs that made The Lost Tapes such a classic.

25
“Black Republican” ft. Jay-Z

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Hip Hop Is Dead

Released: December 19, 2006

Album: Hip Hop Is Dead

Producer: L.E.S., Wyldfyer

When Nas and Jay-Z squashed their beef, it was like a war had ended in hip hop, and to celebrate, the two got together for a collaboration for the history books. With the duo reflecting on their lives in the hood, they sound so good together it’s like they never beefed in the first place.

24
“Street Dreams”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Street Dreams

Released: October 22, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: October 22, 1996

While privileged white kids were raised hoping for the ‘American Dream,’ all the Queensbridge MC could hope for growing up was the ‘Street Dream.’ Telling another story of hustle and hardship, Nas also sings the hook, making this stand out as one of the riskiest tracks off It Was Written . That risk paid off, because there are few Nas hooks that loop in your head like this one.

23
“Stillmatic (The Intro)”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Hangmen 3

Nastradamus was a mixed bag, to say the least, so fans were more than worried going into his next project. Nas knew that, so from the very first track of Stillmatic , he lets you know that he’s back in prime form to deliver another classic. With that energetic beat and Nas annihilating the mic, you can really hear he wanted his fans to know he will never stumble again.

22
“Affirmative Action” ft. AZ, Cormega & Foxy Brown

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales It Was Written

Released: July 2, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: Dave Atkinson, Trackmasters

Lots of hip hop heads will tell you the posse cut is dead nowadays, and while that isn’t true, they definitely don’t make them as ferocious as this anymore. “Affirmative Action” is packed with steady flows and fiery bars, but it’s also a crucial moment in Nas’s career. He worked so tightly with the other three MCs here that they stuck together and formed the legendary supergroup, The Firm.

21
“Ether”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Ron Browz

On December 4 th , 2001, Nas murdered Jay-Z, and once he was buried, he spat on his grave. That’s how brutal “Ether” was – all the confidence Jay had after dissing Nas on “Takeover” vanished the moment the response dropped. Attacking his music, his career, and his soul, the Queensbridge MC wasn’t subtle about his hatred for Jay-Z, and that anger makes this one of the best rap diss tracks of all time .

20
“Represent”

25 Greatest Years In Hip Hop History Illmatic

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: DJ Premier

Play this track in the middle of the city and you’ll have a riot on your hands – it’s just that energetic, nobody can resist chanting along. With an endless supply of quotables from Nas and a pristine beat from Premier, it’s the formula for the perfect hip hop song. This was the song that kicked off the Illmatic sessions, and it’s one flawless way to begin.

19
“If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” ft. Lauryn Hill

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time If I Ruled

Released: June 4, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: Trackmasters, Rashad Smith

Nas isn’t the first name that comes to mind when thinking about hits, but when “If I Ruled the World” dropped, it flooded radio stations like a virus. Having Lauryn Hill on the hook was like a cheat code to get airplay, but that’s not to say Nas sold out, because this track is still a lyrical masterpiece while remaining one of the best hits of the ‘90s.

18
“It Ain’t Hard to Tell (Remix)”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time It Aint Remix

Released: January 18, 1994

Album: N/A

Producer: Large Professor

Remixes can be hit or miss, but with Large Professor on the boards, you’re guaranteed a banger. The remixed version of “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” is an absolute whip thumper, with Nas’ relentless verses more prominent than ever. It’s more evidence that Nas and Large Professor are one of the greatest rapper-producer duos in history.

17
“Life’s a Bitch” ft. AZ

Best Rapper Guest Verse Of Each Year Since 1991 Lifes A Bitch

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: L.E.S.

Listen to the AZ verse that starts this song off and you’ll know exactly why it ranks this high. Nas brings his lyrical precision as expected, but it’s the AZ feature that makes “Life’s a Bitch” such a classic . He raps on and on like he never has to breathe, with this one verse putting him on the map as an up-and-comer to watch out for.

16
“Doo Rags”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Lost Tapes

Released: September 23, 2002

Album: The Lost Tapes

Producer: Precision

There’s a false narrative in hip hop that Nas has a poor ear for beats, but how can they say that when songs as gorgeous as “Doo Rags” exist? With its gentle piano beat and a softer rapping performance, this is a totally different sound for Nas, but he masters it on the first try. It’s one of his most introspective tracks to date.

15
“Halftime”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Halftime

Released: October 13, 1992

Album: Illmatic

Producer: Large Professor

Usually at halftime, everyone is given a moment to rest, but halfway through Illmatic , Nas tightens his grip on the mic over some thumping Large Professor production, and raps like he’s never going to stop. Released almost two years before Illmatic actually came out, this track was crucial for building up Nas’ hype. Side note: Large Pro offered this beat to Busta Rhymes down , but was turned down.

14
“2nd Childhood”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: DJ Premier

DJ Premier and Nas together is a recipe that never disappoints, and “2nd Childhood” is no different. From the buttery smooth bass to Nas’s effortless flow rapping about people stuck in their childhoods, it’s an addictive combination that makes it obvious why fans are so desperate for a Nas and Preemo project.

13
“Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)”

25 Greatest Years In Hip Hop History Illmatic

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: DJ Premier

Picking the Nas song with the best lyrics is like choosing your favourite child – it’s simply impossible – but either way, “Memory Lane” is up there with the best he’s ever written. The rapper talks about how he experienced so much so young that he was practically an adult by the time he was fourteen. It sounds so sad on paper, but with that cheery Premier beat, it’s addictively catchy.

12
“Stay”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Life Is Good

Released: July 13, 2012

Album: Life Is Good

Producer: No I.D.

How many hip hop songs are as heart-breaking as this one? Behind all the bravado and lyrical genius, Nas is just a man, and “Stay” is one of his most exposed tracks ever. With that melancholic No I.D. beat and some tragic lyrics about divorce from the MC, the whole track leaves him as vulnerable as a therapy session.

11
“Thief’s Theme”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Thiefs Theme

Released: June 29, 2004

Album: Street’s Disciple

Producer: Salaam Remi

“Thief’s Theme” is like a victory lap for Nas, looking down on the hip hop culture from his mountain of classics and reminiscing about his criminal youth before all the fame. Street’s Disciple may not be one of his strongest projects, but it still has highlights like this, with Nas making sure hip hop knows who he was before and what he’s become – from a thief to a king. This is by far one of the hardest songs ever released by the QB legend, and the callback to “The World is Yours” is just the icing on the cake.

10
“I Gave You Power”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales It Was Written

Released: July 2, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: DJ Premier

Every rapper has a persona or two to spice things up every once in a while, but who else can claim they’ve rapped through the perspective of a gun? If Nas hadn’t proven it enough already, “I Gave You Power” is more evidence he can take any idea and make a classic track out of it, telling a tense story as a gun is passed around different hands.

9
“It Ain’t Hard to Tell”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time It Aint Remix

Released: January 18, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: Large Professor

The lead single for Illmatic – giving hip hop heads just a taste of that classic record – happens to be one of his finest songs ever. Take the busy production of “Halftime” and amplify it to the max, with some of Nas’s most energetic rapping ever, and you’ve got a boom bap essential which closed off Illmatic on an incredible high.

8
“Queens Get the Money”

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales Untitled

Released: July 15, 2008

Album: Untitled

Producer: Jay Electronica

In an era of bombastic, poppy production, Nas decided to strip things back and rap over a single piano loop, courtesy of Jay Electronica, making his voice the main event. The result is a lyrical paradise where every bar is quotable. From shooting some subliminals at 50 Cent to hyping himself up, Nas doesn’t take a breath for two straight minutes, showing what the most important part of hip hop is: the MCing.

7
“One Mic”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time One Mic

Released: December 18, 2001

Album: Stillmatic

Producer: Nas, Chucky Thompson for The Hitmen

Take away all the riches, all the beefs – Nas will be just fine, as long as he has one mic. Almost a decade into his career, rising in the ranks, this track is him taking a minute to breathe and realising all he wants is a simple life. The rapper’s delivery is possibly the most enraged he would ever spit on the mic, making this a one-of-a-kind song in his catalogue.

6
“Nas Is Like”

Top 50 Best Nas Songs Of All Time Nas Is Like

Released: March 2, 1999

Album: I Am…

Producer: DJ Premier

If someone new to rap asks you what Nas is like, there’s no need to explain who he is – just play them this track. Nas has a million ways to describe himself, using the DJ Premier beat as a playground to mess around with all the metaphors and similes he can think of. The lyrics are so much fun to dissect and there are few rap songs quite so creative.

5
“The World Is Yours”

50 Best Hip Hop Remixes Of All Time World Is Yours

Released: May 31, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: Pete Rock

Without a doubt, this song has the best hook in Nas’s catalogue. The back and forth between Pete Rock and Nas is so addictive you could get any crowd chanting along to it. From the summery piano beat to the wild flows from the MC, every second is packed with detail, and the hunger in Nas’s voice makes every bar unforgettable.

4
“One Love”

50 Greatest Hip Hop Singles Of All Time One Love Nas

Released: October 25, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: Q-Tip

The smooth production on “One Love” will make you feel like you’re in a jazz bar, with Nas providing some slick verses to match. The MC flexes his storytelling muscles yet again , rapping in the form of letters he’s sent to his buddies, and finishing off with one bombshell of a verse where he raps from two different voices, having a whole conversation himself. This is storytelling perfected.

3
“Made You Look”

Top Five Best Hip Hop Songs Each Year Since 1985 Nas Made You Look

Released: September 10, 2002

Album: God’s Son

Producer: Salaam Remi

Even after his comeback with Stillmatic , hip hop heads were sceptical about Nas, wondering if that album had only been a success because of the hype from the Jay-Z beef. “Made You Look” was his message that Nas is king, no matter what happens. With a cinematic beat and a catchy hook, this was yet another hit for Nas, and that energy in his voice is unmatched.

2
“N.Y. State of Mind”

25 Greatest Years In Hip Hop History Illmatic

Released: April 19, 1994

Album: Illmatic

Producer: DJ Premier

Does a song as iconic as this even need an introduction? It’s the hard-hitting intro to Illmatic , with a gritty DJ Premier beat that will make any head bop, and some storytelling more vivid than watching a movie. With “N.Y. State of Mind”, Nas set the scene for his career – flawless beats, mind-blowing lyrics, and a fire in his voice like no other MC before him.

1
The Message

Ranking Nas First Week Album Sales It Was Written

Released: July 2, 1996

Album: It Was Written

Producer: Trackmasters

“The Message” is the pinnacle of Nas’ catalogue. Over a sublime sample of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart”, he needs no more than cold bars and an icy delivery to make an unforgettable song. The rapper tells tales of violent crime with a nonchalance like the complexity of his rhymes and detail in his lyrics don’t even take effort. This is his message that, no matter how huge hip hop gets, Nas is unbeatable. “The Message” was so hot that it was the pivotal point for Nas’ later feuds with 2Pac, Biggie and Jay-Z .