Ten years ago yesterday, Nas (for a moment) won.

Throughout the summer after his battle with Jay-Z lingered on NYC radio airwaves, it was easily assumed by many that Nas had indeed conquered the believed King Of New York with a throttling choke of a diss record. The next step in proclaiming victory? Put out a hot album. That album was Stillmatic and while it may not have been the grandiose upheaval of production styles and anthems for the youth as much as 2001’s other five-mic album was, it signaled one thing – Nas was back, briefly.

It’s a shame Nas gets pigeonholed as much as he does, especially with a wildly creative adventure as Stillmatic was. For the first time in a long time, possibly not since It Was Written’s “I Gave You Power”, Nasir Jones rediscovered the idea of a concept record. “Rewind” held the novel idea of being the audio equivalent of 2001’s Memento, vivid in nature even if you wanted to inverse the song merely to let everything play out in chronological order.

Here’s the sad part about the album though. For every “You’re Da Man” and the systematic destruction of Queensbridge’s other rappers on “Destroy & Rebuild”, you have to realize that the album featured Jungle & Wiz on “Braveheart Party”, easily determined to be the album’s weakest link. To date, Nas has rarely featured the Bravehearts on anything since which isn’t a bad thing since they did give us that one song with Lil Jon “Quick To Back Down” but other than that, we wanted the older son of Olu Dara, not his little brother.

Many may attempt to fight and argue about why Nas’s 2001 album remains his second third best album ever (and frankly, it is) thanks in large part to its co-contributors. DJ Premier laced his signature scratches around a sleepy patchwork of Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson’s “Born To Love” for “2nd Childhood” and Nas did the rest, capturing the ideas of a man reliving his youth because he has no other purpose or mentality to grow up. Salaam Remi laid the spook for Nas to chase demons and chastise dudes in Iverson jerseys on “What Goes Around” and even AZ, the one solo feature from Illmatic returned with renewed hunger on “The Flyest”.

In large part, “Ether” may not even be the highlight of the album. Contary to popular belief, “One Mic”, the bobbing and weaving track that captured Nas in the height of his own delirium about power and struggle holds the title of Stillmatic’s most important and influential salvo. Chucky Thompson of The Hitman employed speeding pianos and sweeping drums for Nas to start off with a low growl, crest with a ferocious roar and come back down to Earth, signifying what everyone thought hip-hop could be on message boards across the country.

Nas won with Stillmatic. While his albums and singles since have either conceptually hit or sank, 2001 will always remain the year that Jay & Nas captured New York City hip-hop and national hip-hop in general with fine albums that followed a legendary feud.

But why in the hell did Jungle & Wiz have to be on this album?