Greatest Hits

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Already considered one of hip-hop's great MCs, a claim made even more believable by the fact that he's able to continue to release relevant, often controversial, material -- material that, while perhaps not as great as what was on his debut, Illmatic, is still interesting and intelligent and generally pretty decent -- Nas has been due for a true greatest-hits collection for a while now. The aptly titled Greatest Hits does just that, tracing his career chronologically, from the aforementioned Illmatic (and it makes sense that there are four tracks from that album -- the most of any -- included) to Street's Disciple (which only boasts one, "Bridging the Gap"). 2006's Hip Hop Is Dead is left out here, but there are two new songs, neither of which is as good as "Life's a Bitch" or even "Street Dreams," but both of which are still pretty fun. The in-demand Cee-Lo Green adds his distinctive vocals to the spooky "Less Than an Hour" (which also can be found on the Rush Hour 3 soundtrack), and even the Chris Webber-produced "Surviving the Times," on which Nas raps about his life and his experiences making music, is well done, though not particularly inventive or unique. There's not much out of the ordinary here: the songs included are all among the MC's most popular and feature the appropriately well-known guest stars (Diddy, when he was Puff Daddy, on "Hate Me Now" and R. Kelly on the remix of "Street Dreams"), which means that even with the new tracks it may not be enough to entice or satisfy a diehard, but for those not expecting or needing more than a decent retrospective, Greatest Hits should do the trick.

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