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"Nas and Il Will Records Present QB's Finest" is just as the title says as we find that in this 2000 album, Nas and his personal record label at the time (before it become defunct in 2005). On the album we get features from the likes of The Bravehearts, Mobb Deep, Cormega (as well as former Juice Crew members for a special joint) on this special compilation album from Nas and other local Queensbridge, New York names.
2. "Da Bridge 2001"
After a nice little introduction, we see that here MC Shan's classic track finally gets to have the final say in "The Bridge Wars" after being ended with recordings from Boogie Down Productions ("South Bronx" and "The Bridge Is Over") as here it get a revamp with Marley Marl back on the production and a range of other members of the Juice Crew collaborating with modern-day Queensbridge Rap residents.
3. "We Live This"
We get even more of The Juice Crew's influence on things as on this one we see that their female MC, Roxanne Shanté, comes to show that she can still do her thing and comes to do it on beats from Mobb Deep's Havoc (also a rapper on the track) and here it makes for a pretty fly one and the sort of thing that was highly-popular out on the East Coast during this period of time for Hip Hop and what it had to offer.
4. "Real N***as"
There's no messing around on this one as we see that we get a joint that has Nas linking up with Ruc over straight-up dope beats from L.E.S., who seems to be on an Old School tip with 1983-1988-styled slapping beats. From this it means that we get nothing but the hardest raps coming out the two MCs as they show what they are about as they speak on the gangsters who made their streets back in the day.
5. "Find Ya Wealth"
The only one of the album, this is a solo track by Nas and so it really stands out on the album as something you should really pay attention to (off the back of "I Am..." and "Nastradamus" - although considered quite weak compared to the majority of his releases). It's a fly one and a tune that was good to see where he was taking things on the lead-up to "Stillmatic" - seen as the follow-up to his debut.
6. "Straight Outta Q.B."
Here we see that Cormega leads a trio of MCs by coming out on the Dr. Dre's produced "Straight Outta Compton" (a West Coast Rap classic by N.W.A). After seeing Cormega rip through the classic lines from Ice Cube, Jungle and Poet both do their thing and show how they suit the flow of things. The bridging sample from Funkadelic competes the thing and makes it a straight killer of a tune here.
7. "Oochie Wally" (Remix)
This was the biggest single from the album and the one that managed to pull the most attention to the thing as we see that here we get a joint that has Nas and The Bravehearts delivering a freaky cuit and one that sees that they're all about that nasty stuff here. The track is a straight-up classic and an unexpected type of hit for Nas (who is more known for the lyrically stuff that isn't designed for the club environment).
8. "Our Way"
Here the takeover comes with raps from C-N-N. Here Capone-N-Noreaga get to the rhyming here. Personally, I have to say that I've never been a fan of their word and this one did very little to change my opinion of what they do as it sounds like a pretty typical cut from them (only possibly made special through a production from Scott Storch). It was the first dip in quality on the album and I was disappointed to see it here.
Here we get more solo work, but in this case it comes from Nature (who formed part of The Firm - with Nas, Foxy Brown and AZ too). He does a great job at things here as he shows how he's able to compete with the rhyming standard that has been put up by others here and that he's capable of carrying a joint without an assistance from other MCs and L.E.S.' production is sufficient in allowing him to come out with the goods.
10. "Power Rap" (Lude)
11. "Street Glory"
After a nice Mobb Deep tune, we see that here we are given another sample of work out of Nas here as he comes to work with Pop and together they rhyme over more beats from L.E.S.. I thought that it was a great way to keep the album rolling here as we see that they come together to bring some raw, underground street material that really fits in with connotations people tend to have of East coast material from this period.
12. "We Break Bread"
We see that the big tunes just don't stop coming as on this one we have a range of local Queensbridge (QB) names come together to throw down another fly joint and a little something that shows just how much Hip Hop talent has come out of a pretty small area. Here Craig G (of The Juice Crew) delivers a verse on the thing and I felt that it was a great time to have a big name 9from back in the day) assist some newcomers.
As I didn't know him prior to this album, I thought that it was very odd to have Mr. Challice bring a solo piece on this album. We see that he is given production from The Alchemist (known for his work alongside Mobb Deep and La's Dilated People's) I thought in spite of this unfamiliarity, the rapper did a great job at showing that he's got what it takes to carry the thing and make the most out of it to keep the high standards up.
14. "Self Conscious"
For this one Prodigy (one half of Prodigy) and Nas come together on a composition that The Infinite and Arkatechz brought made as we find that we have another example to show how strong QB's Hip Hop scene is and how when two of the biggest from the area are brought together, straight killer material is produced. This is one of the darkest track son the album and so not for all, but I could get down with it.
15. "Die 4"
On this on we see that the Infamous Mob take over things, and we see that we crew do it in just the sort of way that had been heard on the last one where they intimidate you through some deep and dingy stuff that is likely to put some off quite a bit, but if you are down for the raw East Coast, Underground Hip Hop at the time then there's no way that you'll want to pull yourself away from it.
16. "Kids From Da P.J.s"
The album ends with this one as we see that Nas does a track that can be seen as the prototype to "I Can" from his "Stillmatic" album as we find that on this one he works with The Bravehearts and the Millennium Thug and together they record one that has them motivating people growing up in the projects and they try and show them potential ways out of the lifestyle that they are expected to be led into.
This is a strong album and a good way to present the talent not only on Nas' label at the time, but also all the local artists from Queensbridge. I have to say that the only real weakpoint was when C-N-N took over as we saw that even QBs legends were able to do a good job when returning more than ten years later to show that they still represent where they consider the birthplace of Hip Hop to be.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro - Jungle & Wiz
2 Da Bridge 2001 - feat. Nas, Capone, Mobb deep, Tragedy, Nature, MC Shan, Marley Marl, Cormega & Millennium Thug
3 We Live This - feat. Havoc, Big Noyd & Shante
4 Real Ni**as - feat. Nas & Ruc
5 Find Ya Wealth - feat. Nas
6 Straight Outta Q.B. - feat. Jungle, Cormega & Poet
7 Oochie Wally - feat. Braveheart's
8 Our Way - feat. Capone -n- Noreaga & Iman Thug
9 Fire - feat. Nature
10 Power Rap - freestyle interlude feat. Prodigy
11 Street Glory - feat. Nas & Pop
12 We Break Bread - feat. Lord Black, Littles, Craig G & Chaos
13 Money - feat. Mr Challish
14 Self Conscience - feat. Prodigy & Nas
15 Die 4 - feat. Infamous Mobb
16 Kids In Da PJ's - feat. Nas, Braveheart's & Millennium Thug
17 Teenage Thug - feat. Nas & Millennium Thug