Nas Names His Top 5 MCs Of This Generation & Lists His 3 Favorite Songs (Video)
Last month, Nas was a guest on Revolt TV’s Music Talks series, where musical icons sit down for an extended conversation about their careers, influences, life perspectives and more. Hosted by Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Records (Heavy D, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, Guy) and EVP of Revolt, the two men spoke for nearly 45 minutes, with Nas addressing a number of topics, including politics, investing, technology, his new album and more.
Early in the talk (2:00) Nas discusses his involvement in the Netflix original series, The Get Down, for which he wrote the lyrics for the main character. Of the show, which is set in the late 1970s in The Bronx, NY, during the beginning of Hip-Hop, Nas says “to watch it, to read the scripts and to go over it, it takes me back to when I was a kid right before I watched the movie Wildstyle; right at the time of hearing T La Rock, “It’s Yours,” and Kurtis Blow records. This story starts even before that time, so, it takes me there.” The topic leads to Nas reflecting on his earliest experiences with Hip-Hop. When asked about his influences, he says “it could have been everybody from KRS-One, Eric B & Rakim, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D…a wide array.”
After Nas’ trip down memory lane, Harrell asks him about his favorite MCs, currently (9:00). With no hesitation, Nas responds “J. Cole, Kendrick [Lamar], Drake, [Lil] Wayne, Rick Ross.” Kendrick, Wayne and J. Cole are likely not surprises to most. Nas has been photographed with the Compton MC, and has praised him a number of times over the years. Similarly, Lil Wayne has long been considered one of Hip-Hop’s top MCs, and Nas was featured on the “Outro” to Wayne’s Tha Carter IV album. J. Cole famously dedicated an entire song to Nas on his Born Sinner album. “Let Nas Down,” was Cole’s way of conveying his disappointment with his own first album. Nas responded in kind by adding an incredible verse to the song’s remix, on which he heaped praise on Cole and shared his wisdom with the “young king.” Ross’ name might be unexpected to some, given the swirl of controversy around his authenticity over the years, but he and Nas have worked together a number of times over the years. Of all those listed, Drake is likely the most unanticipated, given his Pop status and the allegations of his lyrics being ghost-written. At a closer look, however, Drake’s respect for Nas runs deep. In fact, the Toronto MC actually thanks Nas in the credits of his debut album, Thank Me Later. Nas, in turn, has also been outspoken about his respect for Drake saying he is part of the reason Hip-Hip is not dead and calling some of his work “classic.”
Harrell follows up by asking Nas to name the 3 songs of his own he’s most proud of, and why (9:45). That question proves more challenging for the MC dubbed God’s Son. “It’s hard to pick three,” Nas says, but acknowledging that it’s easier than picking one. He starts with his Illmatic classic, “One Love.” “Two verses was letters to the homeboys locked up. You e-mail your homeboy now from prison, but back then you really had to sit down and write your letter, go and visit somebody. So, just that experience of being a teenager watching friends of mine arrested and myself almost being caught up during that time period, and me getting away and some of my friends getting caught…[I] would worry about their well-being and just realize the reality out here is no joke, so I wanted to put that in a song for ’em.” Nas continues with “N.Y. State Of Mind, Pt. 2” and “Small World,” both from I Am…, saying they were some stories he “had fun writing.”
Later in the conversation, Harrell asks Nas about the status of his next album. Over the Summer, the Queensbridge MC had fans in a furor as he blazed a DJ Khaled track titled “Nas Album Done.” At the end of the song, he stated the album was, in fact, done, causing widespread speculation it was coming soon. With only 5 days left in the calendar year, however, it seems almost certain that listeners will have to wait until 2017 for new Nas material. When Harrell pressed Nas for details, Nas was cryptic, but did share some insights. “I interrupted my album process to do my man Khaled’s record,” lead Nas. Regarding where his head was with the album, Nas revealed “[being] involved with The Get Down, going into stories–1970s in The Bronx–opened my head up to different things. So, to put that [Khaled] record together and have what I’m feeling from my experience working on The Get Down, what I’ve been learning working on that, and combine that with the way I hear music today…as soon as we mold that thing perfectly together and put the special glue in there, we’re going to give it to whoever wants to hear it.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Nas gives his thoughts about the backlash against Barack Obama’s presidency, Colin Kaepernick’s protest, his investment strategy, Dave East and more.