Tyler, the Creator: That shit’s cool. Like, I listen to some rock and shit. I like jazz, too. And I like rapping. So songs that I have might have fuckin’ hard-ass fuckin’ drums that make you wanna hit someone in the face. But then I have really pretty chords in the background, because of my jazz influence. But I like to rap, so I rap over the rock drums with the jazz influence and shit. And it shows people a different—people think I just listen to fuckin’ hip-hop.
Nas: I don’t get that from you. I get that you listen to everything.
Tyler, the Creator: Yeah, I listen to total other shit. And it’s cool I can bring people into a world of different music. Like, I’ve had so many kids come up saying they weren’t into hip-hop and they were only into punk rock but I kind of bridged the gap between that for both of them. Now they go back and listen to other music.
Nas: And they realize that punk rock and rap is really not that different.
Tyler, the Creator: The things that they’re seeing, the popular rap music that they see—which, I’m not one of those dudes, like, “Fuck mainstream,” or nothing—but whenever they turn on the radio, what they hear, they’re like, “This is the gayest shit that I ever fuckin’ heard in my life.” But I bridge the gap between, like, “Whoa, it’s not all like that.” I had one dude, like, “Yo, I fuckin’ love Ludacris now because you introduced me to the hip-hop world, and I was just being biased because of my punk-rock roots.” It feels cool to introduce other people to shit like that.
Nas: Definitely. There’s a new generation born every five minutes. You gotta keep your ear to the streets. That’s how I look at it, too. At the same time, I don’t really pay attention too much to what’s going on. I can’t take all the shit in. It’s overload.
Tyler, the Creator: Yeah, it’s too much. I don’t get on the Internet as much anymore. It drives me crazy.
The Internet is Satan.
Nas: Dude! I said the same thing! I hate Tumblr. You know what Tumblr is? I fuckin’ hate Tumblr! That shit is evil. I’ve seen that shit turn people crazy.
Tyler, the Creator: I don’t even know what that is.
Nas: Don’t. I’m all over that muthafucka, and it’s just—it’s some shit, man. It goes crazy. Because the Internet gives people who don’t have a voice a voice. And it just drives you fuckin’ crazy. Like, my Twitter, I get on there sometimes to promote shit and say whatever I feel. But I don’t check my mentions anymore, ’cause that shit drives me fuckin’ crazy.
Tyler, the Creator: No, I never look at it. I have a team that operates that shit for me. They’ll send me questions, and I answer them. That’s it. I was a prank caller when I was a young kid. You get that moment where it’s, Oh, I can just call anybody up and say whatever! This is before caller ID, before *69, all that shit. I look at the Internet as prank callers. You don’t know who they are. They’re having fun. Actually, I’m not mad at that.
Nas: That’s what the Internet is for, though. To drive you crazy.
Tyler, the Creator: You could do some good with the Internet, of course. But it’s, like, a man with horns. Not even a man—a dark force with horns—behind the whole shit.
Nas: Yeah, but it could do some good. It helped me out, for sure. But at times, that shit is, like, I can’t fuck with you. Nah, no way.
Tyler, the Creator: Yeah. “Hate Me Now” is one of my favorite videos. I like Belly a lot, too. Hype Williams is awesome. I just want to be a video director when I’m older, and, like, not really rapping as much anymore. And, like, those two really, like, the angles and just… It’s really cool.
Nas: Yeah, man. The Hype era was a muthafucka. He was a genius, man. He was before his time. And, like most directors, they’re nuts. He’s nuts in a good way. Crazy.
Tyler, the Creator: He was awesome. He was legit. When it comes to videos, those shits are reall important to me, ’cause that can make or break a song. Plus, it sucks when you, like, have a favorite song and then the video sucks. It’s like, Aw, fuck. Then when you hear the song, you’re like, Fuck, they have a shitty video for it. Shit like that is important for me. So I just wanted to tell you personally.
Nas: Aw, man, thanks. I’ve made some shitty videos to some shitty songs. It happens. So that happens, too. So I really appreciate you, bro.
Tyler, the Creator: Is there any song that you cringe when you listen to?
Nas: I would never tell. There’s plenty. There’s one thing where I say…“Blaze a 50”—a song I call “Blaze a 50.” It’s a story, and I say “Palm Springs.” I say, “I was at Palm Springs, at Al Capone’s suite.” I thought in Palm Springs there was a hotel and a suite that Al Capone always stayed at. I misread, or I was too high back then. But he had a home on Palm Island, in Florida. But “Palm” tripped me up. Palm Springs is the more famous, I think. So I cringe at that because I made that mistake. But fuck it. So what? Chalk it up to the blunts. The song is called “Blaze a 50.” Blaze a $50 bag of weed. So shit like that happens. But I don’t really cringe about it. I just won’t say it, so people don’t fuck with me about it. But it’s honestly you and your thoughts. So to you, you hear it now, and you say, Damn, I made a mistake. Nah, it’s the way you saw it. It’s just the way you saw it. It’s fresh from you. It’s nothing wrong with it, at the end of the day. It’s nothing wrong with it. It’s like an artist when he’s painting, and he doesn’t like what he did, and he wants to throw it away, so he starts a new canvas. That’s just the way you felt like expressing it that day. That’s it. So it’s nothing to beat yourself up about.
Tyler, the Creator: So, deep down inside, somewhere you still like it, ’cause you made it.
Nas: Exactly, man. You know, and you know what you meant by it. It’s what it is. It’s a little glitch.
Tyler, the Creator: That’s cool. Do you draw or anything?
Nas: I used to. I used to. And what fucked me up is in Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Where he writes, he drew himself on the couch, watching television with the girl. He was an artist, too. And I thought it was more personal of him, rather than just have an album with liner notes and all of this stuff. And that’s it—it’s just perfect. No, he has his little sketches inside the sleeve, with the wax album. He drew some shit. I thought that was cool. So I think about drawing sometimes. It’s personal.
Tyler, the Creator: Are you into art? Or is there any artists that, like…
Nas: I’m not into it for the sake of just saying it. Like, everyone says they’re into Basquiat. I’m not.
Tyler, the Creator: Yeah, I’m not really into that stuff. Like, I have artists that I love. But I’m not, like, “Oh, shit, Warhol!” “Oh, Basquiat!” Or some other fuckin’ famous muthafucka that I wanna sound cool.
Nas: It’s cliché shit these days. Of course, they got great Warhol pieces, some great Basquiat pieces. I actually would like to own some Basquiat shit I saw. And I remember him when he was alive. I remember his name; I remember his work. So I am familiar with his shit. I do like his shit. Am I crazy about art? Yes. But am I crazy about going out to buy it, and all of that shit? No. I love it. I love the art world, I love art galleries, I love what it means—I love art. But do I wake up and say, I gotta have some art? Fuck, no.
Tyler, the Creator: That’s tight. I want a big-ass house so I can buy canvases…
Nas: Paint your own shit.
Tyler, the Creator: And just draw my own shit…
Nas: That’s what I wanna do.
Tyler, the Creator: You should fuckin’ do it.
Nas: Yeah, yeah.
Tyler, the Creator: Go get canvases and the three colors you like for the fuckin’ day—which would probably be orange, burgundy and a mixture between that shit: purple. And then fuckin’ just draw.
**FOR MORE OF THE TYLER, THE CREATOR INTERVIEW WITH NAS, PICK UP THE NOVEMBER 2011 ISSUE OF XXL, ON STANDS NOW**