Nas’ shelved I Am… The Autobiography is finally getting an official release next month, HipHopDX can confirm.
The long-lost album, which is the original double-disc version of the Queensbridge rapper’s 1999 LP, will be released commercially for the first time on vinyl on November 24 as part of Record Store Day’s 2023 Black Friday event.
The vinyl will include two unreleased tracks, as well as “many other rarities that have been on limited vinyl and 12-inch previously,” according to the product description.
Described as a “must-have for any Nas and die-hard Hip Hop head,” it will also boast special edition deluxe packaging. Only 4,100 copies will be made available.
I Am… The Autobiography is just one of several rap albums included in Record Store Day’s Black Friday lineup, with De La Soul‘s 3 Feet High and Rising, Three 6 Mafia‘s Da Unbreakables and Goodie Mob‘s Soul Food also being reissued on vinyl.
Adding to the Hip Hop 50 celebrations, Lil Wayne‘s 2023 greatest hits compilation I Am Music and Digital Underground‘s The Body-Hat Syndrome are coming to vinyl for the first time, while Dr. Dre‘s The Chronic is being rereleased on CD for its 30th anniversary.
I Am… The Autobiography has long been sought-after by Nas fans and considered by many as superior to the version that was officially released.
Intended as a double-disc concept album chronicling the rap legend’s life from birth to death to rebirth, it featured a different and (obviously) much longer tracklist. Some of those songs ended up making the final cut, including fan-favorites like “Nas Is Like” and “N.Y. State of Mind II.”
Prior to its April 1999 release, however, over a dozen tracks leaked — making it one of the first major label rap albums to fall victim to MP3 bootleggers — forcing Nas and his label, Columbia, to reconfigure the record and ditch the narrative-driven concept.
The mythology surrounding I Am… doesn’t stop there, though. Nas famously almost suffocated during the photo shoot for the album cover, which required a mold of his face to be made for the King Tut sarcophagus piece.
While sitting for the mold, some of the clay-like substance went up the rapper’s nose and left him unable to breath. “The funny part was that the first attempt, Nas was getting asphyxiated,” photographer Danny Hastings told MTV years later. “We almost killed Nas.”
The album’s single, “Hate Me Now,” also caused controversy when Diddy — who was featured on the song — reportedly attacked Nas’ then-manager Steve Stoute over a gripe with its music video.
Puffy had requested that the scene of him being crucified be removed, but when the video debuted on MTV’s Total Request Live with the controversial scene in tact, he allegedly flipped out and stormed into Stoute’s office. He was later charged over the incident.
Despite the adoration for the bootlegged version, I Am… still made its presence felt. Not only did the album debut atop the Billboard 200 with almost half a million first-week sales — still Nas’ commercial peak — but Nipsey Hussle was planning to make a documentary about it prior to his 2019 murder.
“One thing he wanted to talk to me about was putting together a documentary on I Am…,” Nas revealed in an interview with NME in 2020. “Once [that album] got bootlegged, I didn’t even want to hear it again. I didn’t want to hear those songs again. I was just upset, you know?”
He continued: “Nipsey was really serious about doing a documentary about it and he was working on it. Not as far as like gathering footage, but I gave him my blessing to do it.”
Revisit I Am… below:
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