During my senior year at UNCG, I was anticipating NAS new album that would follow It Was Written. The rumor at the time was Esco's intentions of dropping a double CD called I Am Nastradamus. Of course I can't confirm this rumor but a dude sold me a CD with 20 songs on it several months after I AM was released (April 1999) and before Nastradamus (November 1999) was released. Summer 1999 I had already graduated and I was on campus visiting a friend when dude gave me the bootleg.
The bootleg had "Blaze A 50", "Project Windows", "Drunk By Myself", "Fetus", "Purple", "Hardest Thing To Do Is Stay Alive", "Papa Was A Player" (Produced by a young Kanye West), "Amongst Kings", "Sometimes I Wonder" and a few other tracks. Mind you, none of these songs were on I Am except "Hate Me Now". I was puzzled and couldn't believe how amazing they were. During that time, I also heard more NAS songs on Napster. Napster was the first streaming website I remember where you could get music from. The game would never be the same.
Fast forward to winter 1999 and me leaving the record store with Nastradamus, slightly disappointed. The album had a few gems and an alternate version of "Project Windows" but the album wasn't as good as I Am or the Nastradamus Bootleg which was a classic to me. The picture attached to this blog is the original CD I got from dude over 17 years ago. I still play it in 2017 along with NAS The Lost Tapes. The Lost Tapes was released in 2002 and contained a few of the songs from the I AM and Nastradamus sessions according to some insiders.
When the Nas vs Jay-Z battle was steaming up, Jay-Z and some fans stated that Nas fell off at one point. I always laughed because I remember the 30 or so great songs NAS recorded after It Was Written and before Stillmatic. Nas was lyrically tight as ever but it appears bootlegging potentially stopped a double CD that could rival Biggies Life After Death and Tupac's All Eyes On Me. I mean, I truly believe NAS had something special on his hands that ended up getting broken up. We will never know but it's good conversation and speculation.
Below is an example of the type of tracks from the bootleg I have. I didn't name this one above.
NAS - "Wanna Play Rough"...