Nas and his fans have wanted The Lost Tapes 2 to be released for a long time. Esco even wrote an angry letter to Def Jam nearly a decade ago about the record company allegedly delaying the compilation's release. His ire seemed understandable at the time, given that The Lost Tapes was quintessential Nasir and remains a fan favorite. However, the follow-up is a disappointing array of free-association rhymes that pale in comparison to Nas' album work.
In February 1999, just before the mp3 era reached its peak, 13 tracks from Nas' forthcoming double LP I Am....The Autobiography leaked onto the internet. With the core of the album in the wild almost two months before the scheduled release date, Nas and his team at Columbia panicked, scrapping the original tracklist and pushing back the album release date. I Am....The Autobiography was intended as a concept double-album, with one disc recounting his life from birth to death by suicide and the second dedicated to his afterlife.
Nas planned to release The Lost Tapes II in 2003, a year following the first volume of circulated outtakes and leaked tracks dating back to the latter part of the previous decade. Columbia, Nas' label at the time, wasn't accommodating. The project seemed even less likely as the rapper forged ahead with two discs of new material, Street's Disciple, and moved to Def Jam.