Hey Young World: Tyler, the Creator Interviews Nas, Pt. 1 [Excerpt From the November 2011 Issue]

It’s been 20 years since hip-hop first heard Nasir Jones spit a rhyme. Two decades since a 17-year-old crack dealer from the Queensbridge projects made his recording debut on “Live at the Barbecue,” from Main Source’s classic Breaking Atoms album. He was known as Nasty Nas back then, and he made an immediate splash with jaw-dropping lines like, “Kidnap the president’s wife without a plan” and “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffin’ Jesus.” Three years later, in 1994, he dropped his first album, Illmatic, at the tender age of 20. Since then, he has blown up into a bona fide hip-hop superstar, critically revered, popularly adored, selling more than 13 million albums in his career. Several other of Nas’s landmark works also celebrate anniversaries this year: It Was Written, its 15th; Stillmatic, its 10th; and the controversial Hip Hop Is Dead, its fifth. His last disc, Untitled, dropped in July 2008, so it’s been more than three years since die-hard Nas heads have gotten their dose.

Now Nas is preparing for the release of his 10th official album, Life Is Good, which is set to hit shelves in time for holiday shopping. Released through Def Jam Recordings, it will feature guest appearances from three members of the rising Los Angeles collective Odd Future.

Odd Future, a.k.a. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, is the brainchild of 20-year-old rapper/producer Tyler Okanma, a.k.a. Tyler, the Creator. After a year or so of building a buzz by putting free material on the microblogging platform Tumblr, Tyler and Co. exploded into the limelight in February, after a super-high-energy performance, their first ever television appearance, on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. In April, they signed a deal with RED Distribution/Sony, for Odd Future Records, and in September landed a TV show of their own, Loiter Squad, on the cable channel Adult Swim. They also sell their own clothing line through their website.

Tyler, who taught himself to play piano when he was 14, directs all the group’s videos and designs all the album artwork, and he skateboards as much as he can in his free time. His first for-sale solo album, Goblin, came out in May, on XL Recording. It was met with praise in some circles but decried as misogynistic and homophobic in others. While Goblin has sold only 129,000 copies, Tyler’s oversized impact on the pop-culture landscape was confirmed at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, when he won the Best New Artist award for “Yonkers,” a song in which he threatens fellow MTV faves B.o.B and Bruno Mars with murderous violence.

Tyler was four months and 17 days old when “Live at the Barbecue” came out. But he’s been a huge Nas fan since childhood. So XXL thought, What better way to honor a legend with 20 years in the game than by having an upstart newbie interview him for the cover story?

On a warm afternoon, at Siren Studios, in L.A., Nas and Tyler sat in the dressing room, surrounded by racks and stacks of fancy new clothes, while breathing in fumes from Mister Cartoon’s paint cans downstairs, for part one of a three-part interview that ran over an hour and a half.

Tyler, the Creator: God’s Son is my favorite album by you.

Nas: Aw, thanks. Why? ’Cause the word “God”?

Tyler, the Creator: Nah, it’s like, I got… Okay. That came out in 2003, around the XXL issue with you and, like, Jungle and them.

Nas: Yeah.

Tyler, the Creator: The [January/February] issue. And I bought it with that. I don’t know. That shit just… Like, “Heaven” is my shit on there.

Nas: Aw, man, thanks.

Tyler, the Creator: “Zone Out.” Your verse on there was fuckin’ retarded.

Nas: Word? Thanks, man.

Tyler, the Creator: That whole album was just legit.

Nas: Appreciate it.

Tyler, the Creator: And my second is probably Street’s Disciple.

Nas: Get the fuck out of here.

Tyler, the Creator: Yeah.

Nas: Because it’s a Last Supper thing?

Tyler, the Creator: Nah, nah. It’s just, like, the beats on there. “Thief’s Theme” is my favorite fuckin’ song from that album. That shit is fuckin’ retarded. I love the video, too.

Nas: Appreciate it, man.

Tyler, the Creator: I always forget the fuckin’ name… “Nazareth Savage”?

Nas: Yeah.

Tyler, the Creator: You fuckin’—

Nas: Wow, wow.

Tyler, the Creator: You fuckin’ spazzed on that. I don’t hear people talk about it that much, so…

Nas: I was about to say nobody ever mentioned that record to me, and shit.

Tyler, the Creator: That shit is, like, legit as fuck.

Nas: Nobody ever did. Word.

Tyler, the Creator: I love that shit.

Nas: I mean, I can see how you can get that, man. That’s…your shit. I see what you’re doing, you know? Your shit is, like, honest, like, real. You feel like you question, like…religion? You feel like you’re here to say something, too. And who the hell was King James, you know? I mean, how is he different from who we are today, or whatever? So we tell our story today, the way we see it.

Tyler, the Creator: That’s legit. I think that’s why I like Street’s Disciple. Like, you just spitting on there. Like, you just fuckin’ just going in on each fuckin’ track. Even the one with Maxwell and shit. Like, that’s a party record, but you were just going in.

Nas: Yo, that’s crazy, ’cause I think I might have been the first hip-hop dude to get Maxwell on a track, man. We were label mates. And I’ve always been a fan of his shit, too.

Tyler, the Creator: It came out legit, though. It came out, then I bought Stillmatic, like, a week after it dropped. That shit was legit as fuck. It’s weird. I listen to it all the time. And now I’m, like, sitting here. It’s cool, though.

Nas: It’s crazy, dawg. ’Cause I wouldn’t think that someone your age would even have time to check some shit out from—


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  • ad

    this is the dumbest interview ever

    • c/S AD

      Fan of both Tyler and Nas but this interview was plain dumb, I feel bad for Nas. I mean, sure it might’ve looked good paper but in reality this shit stupid retarded…XXL stop it manye

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  • T

    Tyler the Creator = All hype, no talent.

  • http://redlitedj.com Rick

    I don’t know why people feel the need to be haters on here, I think this interview is perfect, I wish all interviews were this personal and casual. Keep em comin’. Chill out y’all.

  • edgar

    I think you need a more mature and intelligent person interviewing Nas. Talking about egging old ladies, wtf? I’m about to be 21 and I think that’s plain wrong.

  • Dumisani

    Weird! Shit is al fuckd up en useles!nxa/mxm, dis is a fucken joke!

  • mick

    this guy has has the worst taste in music , youngsters are idiots

  • SDK



  • NaNa

    I love how they were so real with everything! No scripts, Nobody to correct them on how they speak, and just being themseleves. Just.. Great

  • Caleb

    “When I was twelve I went to hell for snuffing Jesus” haha thats big L!

    • Alex

      Nah man you got it mixed up. Big L sampled that off of Nas for “Devil’s Son.” That was legit Nas line from “Live at the BBQ.”

    • alex

      No its not u dumbass

    • JG

      your an idiot. ever listen to illmatic? its NAS NIGGA!

    • Luke

      Thank you! I was hoping I wasnt the only one that realized that. L gets no love and people are still biting his shit to this day. Dude had one album, it’s a shame what happened to him RIP

      • Donte

        are you fucking stupid too, thats nas know ya dumb fuck not big l

  • Zee

    Watz Dumb Bout This Interview.. Nas is a Legend and Tyler the Creator who Everyone is Lovin Right Now Is Givin a Legend Tha Props and Respect He Deserves.. Fuck all the Hatred Against Nas.. Or Tyler for Respectin a Pioneer

  • Yo

    like.. Nas needs to interviewed by someone that can like… talk in a complete sentence without using the work like.. and like fuck a hundred times. it’s like.. retarded. not sic.

  • http://Facebook Sine

    Ill kinda 2 hyper though

  • so much respect

    Nas your my favourite rapper, but this was a plain stupid interview. #iexpectmore

  • Cinsere

    “The only nigga Sade dated” –Nas, on Let My Niggas Live

    Tyler, the Creator: Sade is awesome. She’s so cool. Have you met her?

    Nas: I wish.


    • Alex

      Yeah man thought same thing.

      But then you realize half the shit rappers say probably made up…

      Even though Nas my favorite…come on man!

  • Shade

    Tyler didn’t even mention “Illmatic”, that album’s raw. And in my opinion, Nas’s best album and my favorite.

  • Alex

    I laughed because this interview is so stupid and off the top.

    Nas my dude. But this was weird ah

  • Al

    I think this interview says more about these artists than any formulated interview questions any journalist staying up all night could come up with. Good on XXL and both these dudes. Nas is God(‘s Son).

  • Chris

    It’s a great interview. Nas has done hundreds of interviews, dont you think his tired of the same boring questions? This was funny for once man!

  • JayDubyaAre

    @Edgar, he didn’t say old lady, he just said “lady”
    @Caleb, “When I was twelve” was on Big L’s song, but it was sampled from Nas. So was the “Aimin guns at nuns” part.

    This was a cool interview, probably nothing like Nas has ever been a part of. It was more like somebody meeting one of his idols, and just asking him questions, and getting to know him.

    As far as saying Tyler has shitty taste in music, he has basically the same taste as Nas, and has extensive knowledge of all kinds of music, as he just proved. I thought I knew a lot of music, but Tyler is a bigger music fan than me.

    All in all, I think this was a pretty good read, and I wanna go check out the rest at Walgreens a little later, while I read it in the store. Peace!

  • Othello

    I choose not to use ‘dumb’ to describe this interview, but its the least articulate interview I ever read. Ever! Is Tyler The Creator really a rapper? I wonder how he constructs his sentences in his rhymes seeing how his sentences r peppered with “its like…you know? like this…you know what I mean?” I felt like I was listening to some high school kid in the streets. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except I wouldn’t have to shell out $6 toHEAR them speak.
    Nas on the cover was the ONLY reason i bought the mag. I wouldnt have, if I knew it’d b this inarticulate!

  • Nasir Jones

    Dude was just trying to create a conversation. y’all should leave him alone. I just like the way he keep saying fuck like a lil hiphop white boy.

  • http://phillchronic.webs.com chronic

    it was just a cònversation not interview.

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  • 87

    Nas too intelligent for such retarded interviews, get someone mature next time, smh

  • http://XXLMAG.com Sine The Monster

    Is Da Last real Ngga alive…i Aint hating but dat cheese part had me laughng my nuts of

  • Luke

    Ah youre right, I take that back. I’m wavin automatic guns at nuns

  • wefwef

    tl;dr interview:

    Tyler: Yo that shit’s legit.
    Nas: Thanks, this is crazy.

  • Simon Andrew

    The interview was a very plain one and very body understand the dude on the topic being discuss.i will say Nas should keep the good work up cus it help relieve people from pain if they listen to his songs.peace out.

  • stupid

    Damn this interview sucks! Dunno why I even read it.

  • mikey

    anyone saying thats big l’s line doesnt know shit. that is one of the lines that made all the buzz around nas. before illmatic before lifetsylez. big l sampled that shit cuz it was a dope line.

  • NinjaP

    Fuck! stupid guys! Oldstars sucks so much more..this interview is cool and authentic, mään i love golden era but u haters sucks

  • foush

    I WISH i had the oppurtunity to ask Nas some questions, Most of these questions were TOY. I would ask the Don questions with respect and at least smoke a blunt with him. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

  • sofia

    this is a good interview. he didnt ask him the same questions that everyone else asks. it was cool, probably refreshing for nas.

  • Omar EFwar

    man all you haters dont know shit about Nas, this was a very good interview, convo , whatever you wish to call it. Nas is the Greatest, Star Wars is the shit!!

  • Smiso ice

    Yoh!! Dope interview by tyler NAS wil always be ma best rapper of all time and i loved all the shit staff he said there big up ma nigga

  • Apollo

    People say this interview is dumb.. but visualizing what it must have actually been like, is insane.

  • danny

    Could this possibly be the dumbest interview of all-time? “What’s your favorite color?!????” WTF?

  • jay

    I respect both artists for what they bring to music, but this interview is fucking horrible…You can see Nas trying to help him out to get some depth by suggesting maybe why he would like certain records but the homey Tyler didn’t take not one cue… SMH. Eh…won’t be copping this issue. Will check out each artists new album when they drop tho.

  • vincent

    why you lot hating? this was a good interview, a few weird questions were thrown in but that shits better than all the same boring questions that get asked in interviews

  • funk

    lost 2 minutes from my life.

  • Pingback: Nas Interviewed By Tyler The Creator _ XXL | Interviews

  • Daz

    Wow. I don’t even know what to make of that shit. So awkward and forced. You gotta appreciate Nas’s patience dealin with that bullshit. No doubt Tylers dope as fuck but he can’t interview for shit and he’s tryina push that immaturity A.D.D. bullshit on a fuckin legend. Nas doesn’t give a fuck about how 18 year olds try to act too grown up he aint fuckin Peter Pan he was sellin rocks at 18 not throwin eggs. This just left a bad taste in my mouth. Wish Tyler had been more prepared…

  • Elvis

    And this is why I like Tyler. Granted he’s a 20 yr old kid who doesn’t exactly speak like a scholar, this kid has a very good ear for music and has a ton of talent. He uses music the way its supposed to be used: for creative expression. For decades too many artists have tried to make albums and tracks to hit a certain demographic and it just comes off phony and fake. Hence why I can’t listen to Ross, Drake, Wayne, and a ton of other artists out right now. Tyler really just makes tracks for himself to express himself and be as creative as he can push himself. Its not perfect, but its raw and honest as fuck.

    Street’s Disciple was Nas’ most slept on album. The tracks Tyler mentioned and the track ‘Streets Disciple’ was just crazy. Nas went in on that whole album just like Tyler said. I love that this interview was done. Shouts to XXL for making this happen.

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  • Kar

    I love this interview. It’s personal. It’s chill and you see them both as people.

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