In placing Nas 3rd on this list, I find myself scouring my brain for ways to justify him not being number one. Maybe inconsistency? Since I'm trying to build something with this list, I'll focus on how jaw-dropping Nas is when he's on. Nasir Jones' A-game is lyrically untouchable. Not only can he impart magnificent stories, he can relate simple observations about the world around him in a way that makes commonplace ideas seem transcendent. He also know how situate internal rhymes and outlandish vocabulary into his rhymes as to give them an extra, musical dimension above just what he's saying. I feel compelled to quote Nas' entire verse from 'Life's A Bitch' verbatim just to get my point across, but I'll spare the reader my indulgence and just give a few lines from the lyrical masterpiece: "When I was young at this, I used to do my thing hard/ Robbin' foreigners, take they wallets, they jewels, and rip they green cards/ Dip to the projects flashin' my quick cash/ Got my first piece of ass, smokin' blunts with hash/ Now it's all about cash in abundance/ Niggas I used to run with is rich or doin' years in the hundreds/ I changed my motto/ 'Stead of sayin' "fuck tomorrow," that buck that bought a bottle could have struck the lotto/ Once I stood on the cracks, loose cracks produce stacks/ I cooked up and cut small pieces to get my loot back/ Time is illmatic, keep static like wall fabric/ Pack a 4-matic and crack your whole cabbage." There, thanks for bearing with me, I got a boner just typing that. It's hard to get the full effect reading Nas' lyrics though, because his deadpan delivery, and raspy old man voice lend everything he says an extra level of gravity. And although Nas can brag and floss with the best of them, when he injects some substance into lyrics, his musings go beyond kneejerk social consciousness and into the realm of honest, unadulterated commentary about the world around him. I've probably had more moments of sudden, jaw-dropping awe listening to Nas than with any other rapper.