The first best-of collection of Nas' colorful career, The Best of Nas perfectly compiles most of his biggest pre-Stillmatic hits along with several Illmatic-era remixes. The Japan-only release gathers every major hit -- "Street Dreams," "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)," "Nas Is Like," "You Owe Me," and more -- while at the same time emphasizing Nas' classic debut, Illmatic (1994). The first eight tracks all come from that ten-track album: two versions each of "Life's a Bitch," "The World Is Yours," "One Love," and "It Ain't Hard to Tell" -- the original version followed by the remix in each case. These remixes are elsewhere compiled on the From Illmatic to Stillmatic EP (2002) (as is a remix of "One Mic" that's not here) and are definitely worthwhile listening for any Nas fan, particularly those who enjoy his Illmatic era. Then come all the hits, first those from the Trackmasters-produced It Was Written (1996) followed by those from I Am and Nastradamus (both 1999). By the time you reach the end, you're hungry for more hits -- namely lesser ones like "Halftime" and subsequent ones like "One Mic" -- and also more remixes. But that's all the room there is on this solid single-disc collection, which should definitely enthrall Nas first-timers with all the hits as well as enthrall diehards with all the remixes.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
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