Nas is certainly one of the greatest mainstream rappers. His music has influenced a whole generation since the early 90’s.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones was born on September the 14th, 1973, in NYC.
Man of many aliases, also known as Nas, Nas Escobar, Nasty Nas, God’s son and Nastradamus.
Music has always been part of his life since his early years
Nasir Jones is the son of trumpeter Olu Dara. As a kid Nas wanted to be an instrumentalist, like his dad. However, he changed his mind as a preteen and decided to pursue a career as a rapper.
Nas dropped out of school in the 8 th grade and started peddling drugs in the street. Nas is quite an autodidact: during this time, he educated himself, spending some time in studying African culture and civilization, the Holy Qu’ran and the Bible. Nas’ work is fulfilled with references to African culture and spirituality and that’s the beauty of it.
Many of Nas’ video are very educative about black history and it also reinforces black people’s feeling of pride about their history and African American’s African roots.
Focused on a rap career, Nas started collaborating with his best friend and neighbor, Willie “Ill Will” Graham who became his DJ.
Ill Will met hip hop producer Large Professor who introduced Nas to his group, Main Source.
In 1991, Nas started collaborating with Main Source and his verse was featured on their album, Breaking Atoms.
Nas’ lyrical skills would soon impress the hip hop community and he earned some real underground credibility.
Nas and Willie Graham were working together when on May the 23rd, 1992, a bad drama happened in Nas’ life: his friend Willie would be gunned down in Queensbridge.
Mc Serch of 3rd Bass then became Nas’ manager. Nas would get a record deal with Columbia Records.
Nas was featured on MC Serch Halftime single from the artist’s soundtrack.
In 1994, Nas would release his first record, Illmatic. Illmatic contained numerous references to Tony Montana
Illmatic was acclaimed as a masterpiece of works by the critics.
In 1996, Nas’ second album, It Was Written came out. In this album, Nas came up the Nas Escobar character in reference to Columbian drug dealer Pablo Escobar.
In 1999, Nas released a double album called I Amâ€¦The Autobiography.
A video was shot for Nas’ first single Â«Â Nas Is LikeÂ Â» and Dj Premier produced the video.The same year, Nas also released another album, Nastradamus.
Nas vs. Jay Z
The well known Nas/ Jay Z rivalry started as Jay Z’s protÃ©gÃ©, Memphis Bleek released a song called Â«Â Memphis Bleek IsÂ Â» literally using Nas’ concept. Therefore, Nas dissed Memphis Bleek on his Nastradamus album. As a response Memphis Bleek would diss him on his Understanding LP.
In 2000, QB’s Finest came out, followed by Stillmatic in 2001.
The beef with Jay Z and fellows went on, since Nas called his rival out on his compilation Cd, QB’s Finest.
Jay Z would respond at his 97 HotSummer Jam concert in 2001 in NYC with his song Â«Â TakeoverÂ Â» that was originally a Mobb Depp diss.
Nas showed some teeth with his Stillmatic Freestyle in which he attacked Jay Z and his Rock a Fella label.
On his Blueprint album, Jay Z rewrote his Takeover song and stated that Illmatic was Nas’ only valuable album.
Nas would attack Jay Z on the second track of his Stillmatic album with the song Ether, an incisive response to his big rap rival.
In fact, Nas reproached his rival Jay Z to bite his style. Nas also accuse him of copying Notorious Big’s lyrics.
Nas also made some fun of Jay Z, claiming that Â«Â Eminem had murdered him on his own shitÂ Â», referring to his collaboration with Eminem on the Renegade song on his Blue print album.
Ether received a response with Jay Z’s Supa Ugly freestyle, trying to ridicule Nas on private details of his life.
Both rapper’s beef would eventually be squashed in 2005 at Jay Z’s I declare War concert where Nas joined him on stage.
In 2002, Nas released The Lost Tapes, a collection of underground Nas songs and his wonderful God’s Son album.
The singles Made You Look and I Can soon became major hits.
On November 2004, Nas released Street’s Disciple, a double album that includes masterpieces such as Thief’s Theme and Bridging The Gap.
I particularly recommend to my readers to watch the video to Bridging The Gap on Nas’s official website.
It is a beautiful mixture of blues, jazz and rap and a wonderful dad and son collaboration that won’t leave black music lovers indifferent. Nas put his heart and soul into this track.
Nas recently collaborated with Kanye West and appeared on Damian Marley’s album.
Beef with 50 Cent
During on of his concerts in NYC, Nas expressed about 50’s Cent music:
Â«Â This is the real shit, not that 50 Cent shitÂ Â»
50 cent dissed Nas’ wife Kelis on the Piggy Bank track and Nas retaliated with his track “Don’t Body Ya Self (MC Burial)”, which is a stab at 50 Cent and his G Unit crew.
Nas’ upcoming album is due to release in mid 2006.
Check this extraordinary emcee called Nas if you haven’t done it yet.