Nas & Jack White Take One Mic And Add A Bass, Piano & Drums (Video)
Over the course of Nas’ storied career, he has made few songs more urgent and emotional than “One Mic.” The single, released from 2001’s Stillmatic, samples Phil Collins’ cinematic “In The Air Tonight,” and maintains the same drama and tension of that record. In each verse, Nas starts out with his voice barely above a whisper, gradually building until he is nearly screaming, as sirens and other warning sounds blare in the background. The song is a call to arms, both to Nas and a generation of hood soldiers who feel trapped by their circumstances.
Sixteen years later, Nas is in a very different place than he was when “One Mic” was first released. He is one of the most successful MCs of the last 20 years, and he has parlayed that influence into film projects, TV series and venture capital investments. However, as he performs a stripped down version of the song, accompanied by an upright bassist, a drummer on a modest drum kit, and Jack White on piano, Nas approaches the song with the same ferocity that he did over a decade and a half ago. In fact, with his voice cracking and his near breathless delivery, in some ways, Nas’ vocal performance is even more emotionally-charged than the original.
The video is the latest in a series of clips from the film The American Epic Sessions, executive produced by White, T-Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford. Last month, Nas and White released a cover of the Memphis Jug Band’s 1928 song, “On the Road Again.”