What We Learned: Nas’ ‘Ask Me Anything’ Session On Reddit
Someone asked when I realized Illmatic was classic and what jazz I’d recommend: I would recommend Love Supreme by John Coltrane. And I guess when I played it for my guys in my neighborhood, they told me it was a classic. Really surreal moment.
How did you end up (allegedly) ghostwriting for Will Smith?
Alright, let’s clear this up once and for all. I hung out with Will in the studio. And watched him write it. It was a fun studio session, and I said a line or two or three to him. It wasn’t that serious. Will Smith wrote that song. But seriously, I watched him have fun making that record on his own, and Will is a true MC.
Nas,What’s your favorite book?
Oooh. Favorite book. Probably Convictions by Richard Pryor.
Have you ever had an encounter with a fan of your music that you remember vividly to this day? Something that stood out as unique throughout your career.
Yeah, I’m sure man. At least once a year, a fan will tell me that one of my albums helped them find a reason to not commit suicide and to go on. That’s powerful. I’m humbled. And it scares the shit out of me too.
What was Biggie like in person?
Class act. Also funny. Naturally funny. And he was a genius.
Nas – there really is no question in my mind that “One Mic” is one of the most influential hip-hop tracks of all time. Which were the most influential for you?
Thank you. That’s one of the only records I produced. I produced maybe 3 of my records, ever, so I appreciate that. I gotta go with One Mic and New York State of Mind, A Queens Story.
How did it feel shouting out everyone on Where Are They Now and then getting some of the artists mentioned to show they’ve still got it?
That was unreal. That went over people’s heads. Thank you for listening to that. That meant a lot to me to get that done, and I appreciate everyone of those guys and those female rappers that cared to jump on that record. Shit like that never happens.
My question is about I Am, ever since the leak and scrap of the second disk, so many people have speculated about the tracklist and or tracks that may have never been released, care to put all that rest and finally tell us what that album was supposed to be?
Yeah, those songs landed on my Lost Tapes album, and I think on Nastrodamus. And YOU, Victoria, are cracking me up because she’s pronouncing my name the way Will Ferrell did when he was imitating George Bush Junior. We’re laughing and having fun though, so don’t go after her. shoutout to /r/hiphopheads, I hope to stop by later.
Who is someone young that you haven’t worked with in hip hop yet but would like to?
Nas, would you mind droppin a couple words of wisdom my way?
Don’t underestimate luck.
How was it working with the Beastie Boys? Has anyone been offended by Too Many Rappers?
Legendary. Those guys are legends. Rest in peace Adam. Told me a lot of old school stories that day about grimy New York clubs when they were starting.
Can you give Jay Electronica a verse and tell him to release his album already?
I tell him almost eveyr day.
I’m trying not to flip out at my work desk right now because I’m so excited you’re doing an AMA. Who is your favorite hip hop artist to listen to at the moment?
Favorite hip hop artist to listen to at the moment…Jay Electronica and Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q. YG. and Young Jeezy.
Who has been the most fun to collaborate with and who has been the most professional?
Damian Marley. Definitely the most fun. And very wise, a very wise guy, very talented guy. And he was professional, no ID.
Hi Nas, and welcome to reddit!
When you were recording Illmatic, did the 19 year old you ever stop and consider the implications of what you were recording? Did you ever imagine that people would be talking about you two decades later?
I wanted them to talk about me that day. Two decades later was a little far ahead for me to think about.
Did you encounter any creative differences or disputes with your producers during the recording of Illmatic? Did these ever come close to jeopardizing the project in any way?
No. It was a great time. Any back and forth was good back and forth. There were no problems.
There is a small but notable proportion of your fanbase which believes that your sophomore effort It Was Written is superior to Illmatic (me included). How do you view both albums in relation to each other today?
I mean, that was my point. I had to grow. So I’m happy you feel that way, because that was my goal, to make a superior record. I felt like at that point, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here now.
Which artists are getting consistent spins from you these days? What was the last song you listened to?
Last song was some Biggie and some jazz.
There has been a lot of excitement and discussion regarding JAY Z’s appearance at your (excellent) Coachella set. Collaborations between you and him have been far and few, although that may be set to change, seeing as how you were on “BBC” off his Magna Carta Holy Grail album, and he is slated to be on yours. How would you describe your relationship with him in 2014?
We’re just doing.
In 2010, Kanye West discussed the possibility of executive producing a Nas album (this was in the heyday of his seminal My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). How did that go down? Are there any collaborations in the pipeline?
You have praised a number of current-era rappers, such as Mac Miller, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica and J. Cole in the past. Which contemporary artists have caught your ear recently?
Bishop Nehru, and Fashawn.
As a veteran of hip-hop, you have seen over 2 decades of change. Who do you think is pushing the genre the furthest? Who is moving the culture forward, and who is regressing it?
I love what Drake is doing, and Kendrick Lamar. And also J. Cole.
You have said in interviews that your next solo studio release will take a different direction to “Life Is Good”. There have so far been 2 confirmed tracks – “Sinatra In The Sands” with JAY Z and Justin Timberlake (produced by Timbaland); and “No Such Thing As White Jesus”, featuring Frank Ocean (produced by Hit-Boy). Is there anything else you could elaborate on your next album?
The last song I think you got confused, that was for Life is Good featuring Frank Ocean, I don’t know what I’m doing with that record yet. But it’s true about Timbaland, and no other news.
illmatic has been considered as the best hip hop album of all time and was iconic in the impact it left on hip hop. What other hip hop albums do you think were significant in shaping the culture?
Public Enemy’s It Takes a nation. Erik B and Rakim Paid in Full. Drake’s last album Holy Grail.
What are your favorite TV shows?
Modern Family, that girl, Sofia Vergara, I need her. Walking Dead. House of Cards is my shit.
What musical direction will you take with your next album?
No news on that yet.
Favorite video game?
Miss Pac-Man. I got the old big arcade game in the crib.