Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time.
This week: Nas’s Nastradamus (1999)
1999 was a strange time for music, especially hip-hop. The genre was only a few years removed from the deaths of its two biggest stars; Jay-Z had become a superstar; and a slew of young cats had entered the game. At the same time, Napster exploded onto the scene and online piracy immediately turned the music industry upside down, forcing several major rap acts to change their albums on the fly.
The biggest victim of this was Nas, who, after the classic Illmatic and the highly successful It Was Written, had been preparing an epic concept double album titled I Am…The Autobiography for his third release. When much of that album leaked, Nas scrapped both the concept and the double album, recorded a few new songs, and released a one disc mishmash titled simply I Am… in May, 1999.