Elzhi Jeremy Deputat/Red Bull

Former Slum Village member Elzhi has remade Nas’ landmark "Illmatic" album as "ELmatic". As the Detroit rapper prepares for the May 10 release of "ElMatic" on Elzhi.com, he reveals his Top 5 Nas songs of all time, in no particular order.

Song: “I Gave You Power”

Album: "It Was Written" (1996)

“It’s him rapping from the perspective of a gun,” Elzhi says. “He told it so detailed and made it so visual that you couldn’t help but like it. The concept was crazy creative. He was speaking from the perspective of the gun, how he was tired of people using him and handling him in certain ways. At the end of the song, he jams on his owner so that his owner dies. He’s thinking, ‘Whoa. Okay, I’m free.’ But then somebody else grabs him at the end of the record. It almost could have been like a ‘to be continued’ song, but it wasn’t. It’s dope."

Song: “Life’s A Bitch”

Album: "Illmatic" (1994)

“The reason I like ‘Life’s A Bitch’ is that beat, that sample from the Gap Band, the song ‘Yearning for Your Love.’ Nas had his father play the horn on that song, which was dope. And that was the only song on that album that had a feature on there and he introduced AZ. They’re kind of rapping about life and the vibe of it is just crazy. I like the vibe of it more than anything. Nas says he woke up early on his born day. It’s kind of like he’s acknowledging the fact that he’s getting older. He’s celebrating his new year on the planet. I guess that’s a cool thing to look at, but through the song they’re speaking about a lifestyle that could be depressing.”

Song: “N.Y. State Of Mind Pt. 2”

Album: "I Am" (1999)

“That story was crazy; the first verse was just bananas. He was talking about how he started off with a certain amount of friends and by the end of that verse, he only ended up with two friends. He was talking about how these other friends, they went through so much in their lives to where they did certain things and they’re not around anymore. The story was just insane and the beat was dope. The original was crazy, so for them to do “N.Y. State of Mind Pt. 2” and for it to just be as ill as the first one – and I thought the first one was wild – that was an accomplishment.”

Song: “Rewind”

Album: "Stillmatic" (2001)

“The reason I like ‘Rewind’ so much is that it reminds me of "Memento", a movie that goes backwards. I don’t know if Nas got that concept from there, but the song is him telling a story backwards. He’s jumping inside the van backwards and closing it shut, he’s just doing a bunch of stuff backwards. It’s insane. As far as an artist, hearing something that creative, it’s only going to spark brain cells. Listening to that song the way I did, that might have sparked a few concepts of mine in the past. Nas is crazy. He has so much detail to his verses.”

Song: “U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography Of Rakim)”

Album: "Street’s Disciple" (2004)

“I’m picking that because Rakim inspired me as well and I can hear the similarities in Nas’ flow and Rakim’s flow. That song was a tribute that Nas felt was appropriate for somebody who inspired him to write, the same as what I’m doing with "Illmatic". He went through his whole career and it was a fitting tribute.”

For more from Soren Baker, follow him on Twitter.




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