Nas Explains How Prince Rejected & Schooled Him At The Same Time (Video)
Nas is one of Prince’s biggest fans. The Queens, New York MC has made his admiration of the late icon public for years, referencing him in lyrics, interviews and his social media. The two even appeared on President Barack Obama’s 2016 summer playlist, a fitting place for two artists who are legendary in their own, respective right. But even legends get turned down sometimes.
In the newest episode of Drink Champs, the Lost Tapes II rapper spoke with hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN for a lengthy conversation. The three had much to discuss, considering the decades-long history Nasir and Noreaga have as collaborators and the fact that Nas just released a highly anticipated follow-up album. While sipping cognac, Nas is an engaging guest who graciously accepts N.O.R.E.’s claim that he’s “the greatest MC of all time.” After discussing the role of Queens in Hip-Hop and Nas’ role in making it as visible a New York City borough as the Bronx, his relationship with Kanye West, his tour with Lauryn Hill and more, the three turn the conversation towards rejection and industry blackballing.
At the 46:35 mark, N.O.R.E. asks his guest, “Is there anybody that said ‘no’ to Nas?” After a split-second of reflection, Nas replies with an emphatic “Yeah” before going into more detail. He says he hasn’t often asked for things in his career, which made his chances of being turned down low. Admitting there are certain people he “won’t dare call ’cause I just know they not probably gonna do it,” Nas seems to struggle to think of a name when prompted by N.O.R.E. “So you never wanted a feature that you never got?” N.O.R.E. asks. “Maybe Sade,” Nas ventures uncertainly. “Probably her…I don’t think I called her for a record.” Then, at the 48:33 mark, Nas lights up. “I got it. Prince.”
“I sought him, because he came to my I Am album release party,” says Nas. “It’s Prince…He had this bad joint with him…I pulled a N.O.R.E. move; I said, ‘Yo, let’s do this. Let’s do a song.’ He was like, ‘Do you own your masters?'” There’s an audible reaction from the crowd and Nas continues his story. “But he blew my [mind] because I was like, ‘I don’t, and I’m far from it,’ ’cause I owe [Sony/Columbia Records] about four or five albums. So I was like, damn!” At that point, EFN suggests Prince just handed over Nas some game about how the industry works. “He dropped a jewel; he helped me see the future. He was like, ‘When you own your masters, give me a ring.'” Nas is in good company, however. “…he turned Michael Jackson down,” he says of Prince.
Nas goes on to say that, before Prince’s 2016 death, “We kicked it a few times; we got cool. He was a very cool dude to me.” Their relationship grew close enough that Prince offered Nas an opportunity to share the spotlight once. “He invited me on stage to perform; I was like, ‘I can’t go out there’…Nah, I didn’t go.”
During the interview, Nas also shares some personal thoughts on fellow Queensbridge Hip-Hop icon, Prodigy. Heads will want to tune in near the 42:00 mark to hear Nas reflect on the death of his friend and the “politics” of his legacy. Near the 45:00 mark, he goes into the material he says he has in the wing for the third and fourth installments of the Lost Tapes series.