Nas Offers A Very Real Message About Success & Career Longevity

Soon approaching 30 years since he made one of Rap’s greatest introductions alongside Main Source (and mentor Large Professor) on “Live At The Barbeque,” Nas’ career is still heating up. Reports earlier this week suggest that the once-prodigious MC from the Queensbridge Houses stands to earn $40 million from an acquisition of a company he and his partners have funded. Nas is working hands-on with a roster of talented artists at Mass Appeal Records. The team includes a flagship artist in Dave East, a fellow New York City spitter who can be street and lyrical at once, with sex appeal in the brand. All of this is happening at a time where fans remain on baited breath nearly two years after the video single announced, “Nas Album Done.”

Next week (March 30), a documentary co-produced by Nas will be available to the masses via Netflix. Rapture is an eight-part series that looks at the life of Hip-Hop artists, and their industry climbs and pitfalls. Those artists represent a diverse cross-section of the Rap space. Some series subjects have found sustained commercial success at a high level, like T.I. There are acts who have waited patiently, only to find platinum pastures later in their careers, such as 2 Chainz. Rapture also takes a close look at voices making strong advances at the moment, including Rapsody, G-Eazy, and Dave East, among others.

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With that theme at play, Billboard‘s Carl Lamarre asked Nas he has sustained his legacy for nearly 30 years. “There’s different stages of [career and legacy] and you just appreciate each stage and never take it too personal. I’ve seen way too many people take it too personal. They act like they don’t. They make excuses for things too much and they live off of excuses,” Nas replies. “Excuses become a career for some people. I can’t accept failure. Failure’s not an option. I can’t allow anybody to tell me what I should and should not do. I’m living in my own way and breaking that down to an art form: Hip-Hop.”

Nas’ career is filled with ebbs and flows, setbacks and triumphs. While Mass Appeal Records has become an exciting imprint with a diverse roster, it is not Nas’ first attempt at running a label or mentoring acts. Further, despite his status as one of Rap’s commonly-mentioned (and quoted) G.O.A.T.’s, not all the releases Nas’ catalog are as beloved as his 1994 Illmatic debut. Continuing his thoughts on legacy, Nasir Jones stresses that oneself is the most important judge. “How could you tell me something is wrong that I should be doing or that I shouldn’t be doing when no one told me how to get here to begin with? I’m still on my journey and I don’t know what that means to anybody else, but to me as a person, it’s not just about being a music artist that has [created art] that’s untarnished.” The “Daughters” artist emphasizes humanity. “It’s about being a human being. I think that’s what comes first, who I am as a person. Then, the music and art will reflect that. As long as I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing as a person and a human being, the rest will come together.”

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Nas describes how things he is involved with, such as Rapture, showing depth to the culture that goes behind social media teaser trailers or ephemeral moments. He seems to imply that it’s true of legacy, but also bodies of work ranging from albums to a thing such as this Netflix series. “We have so much more to offer the world. It’s time there’s a light put on that side of it, and embrace that light.”

Read Billboard‘s full conversation with Nas about Rapture.