This week Nas announced that the fourth video from his “Life Is Good” LP will be none other than “Bye Baby,” the most revealing track on the album as it summarizes the public breakdown of his marriage to Kelis. This is not the first time that Nas has used his ex-wife as a focal point of his rhymes. He was remarkably candid about his emotions in the pre-wedding portrait, “Getting Married.” He even mentioned her on “Mastermind” when he said, “Gave the keys to Kelis whispered in her earlobe, drive on ‘cause she the wife and they the freaks.” Nas and Kelis have actually made incredible music together. Here are their top five collaborations that you should hear in order to get a better understanding of the background on “Bye Baby.”
5. Kelis featuring Nas – “Handful”
This unreleased track from Escobar and Kelis is an alternate version of “Handful” from “Kelis Was Here.” It features a brief verse from Nas and unexpected raps verse from Kelis.
4. Kelis featuring Nas – “In Public”
If you look past her crossover hit “Milkshake” you will realize that the “Tasty” album from Kelis was an incredible project that took her music to new levels and features an incredible track with Andre 3000 (“Millionaire”) that was released when Outkast was dominating the charts and our minds with “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” At first “In Public” is moving slowly and then gains a momentum boost from Nas’ nasty ending.
3. Kelis featuring Nas – “Blindfold Me”
Although Nas was featured in the “Milkshake” video as an employee at the Tasty’s Yard diner, this is the only time that a short film was created for any of their duets. In this sexy exchange between Kelis and Nasty we are given a peak into their bedroom and the video shows Kelis blindfolded, tied to a chair, and later dancing for her man. Esco murders his verse.
2. Nas – “Hey Nas” featuring Kelis & Claudette Ortiz
It’s one of the standout singles from the “God’s Son” album. Even though Claudette makes a contribution, it is Kelis’ hook that that stands out. Nas’ flow is ridiculous as he rhymes casually in one instance then spits rapid-fire rhymes in another while making it all sound meaningful over the uptempo sounds that remind you of the King of Pop’s “Billie Jean.” Pay close attention to what Nas says he wants in a woman: “But to be my queen, you must point out my enemies/ A girl who’s into me, but not a hype chick someone with proper energy/ Someone who’s into to me who won’t fuck all my enemies/ And you could be the one cause I’m feelin your energy.”
1. Nas – “Remember The Times” (Intro by Kelis & Nas)
It’s probably the most unknown Nas track because it was featured on his overlooked double-disc, “Street’s Disciples,” which should be analyzed along with Biggie’s “Life After Death” as well as Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me” as one of the best bulk albums in hip-hop history. Although Kelis doesn’t sing on the song her open discusion with Nas prior to the instrumental about giving him a “free pass” to roam is a great debate. If you listen to the soulful sample and the witty way in which Nas describes his former female sex partners in great detail, there is no way that his greatness should ever be in doubt.
Honorable Mention: “Popular Thug” from the “Neptunes Present: The Clones” soundtrack from 2003 didn’t make the final cut but is worthy of a listen and is the first collaboration on record between Nas and Kelis. Equally important is “American Way” from Nas’ “Streets Disciple” project which features Kelis on the hook also adding great melody in the track’s closing seconds.