Why is this? Clearly there's no simple explanation. But, if you consider the aforementioned MCs on a case-by-case basis, there are reasons why each of them has been deemed a top MC while Nas is undeservedly relegated to the relatively-forgotten lower rungs of the rap ladder with artists like Common and Mos Def.
Let's look at Jay-Z. He, along with Eminem, are the most flashy on the list.
|Nas teamed up in 2010 to create "Distant Relatives" with Damian Marley|
Jay-Z arguably compromised his musical and lyrical talents by selling out to a pop music vibe instead of remaining true to his roots. Now, for Biggie and Tupac, the their popularity is obviously explained. Biggie was killed and Tupac seemingly vanished into thin air. As sad as it is, the media and the critics will always smile upon death tragedy. And, perhaps most clearly, Eminem has benefitted from the notoriety he got from "8 Mile" and from the detailed publication of the hardships that he hard to overcome while growing up in blue-collar Detroit; Jay-Z also benefitted from this pseudo "rags-to-riches" phenomenon.
|Nas and Jay-Z feuded throughout the 90s|
Nas' lyricism, beats and production are equally, if not more impressive, than each of these MCs. Granted, there are certainly various aspects of his artistry which is less-developed than these other top MCs. Yet, why isn't Nas a "Top-5" MC? You've probably heard much of his work. So, instead below I provided some tracks that most people don't know or, at the very least, should get re-accustomed to. You be the judge.
"Surviving the Times"
"Made You Look"
"Hip-hop is Dead"