Nas Celebrates 20 Years in Hip-Hop, Interviewed by Tyler, the Creator in New XXL

This is a special year for Nas, who has a few anniversaries to celebrate including the release of his first verse ever. The Queensbridge poet, who’s gearing up for the release of his 10th solo album, Life Is Good, helped to pioneer shock rap with his timeless breakout verse on 1991’s “Live at the Barbeque,” with lines like “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus.” With that in mind, XXL recruited a new controversial MC, Odd Future’s frontman Tyler, the Creator, who’s a longtime Nas fan, to interview the veteran MC for the November issue’s cover story.

Who would have guessed the two rappers would have hit it off so well. Throughout an in-dept interesting conversation that lasted over an hour-and-a-half, Nas and Tyler touched on a variety of topics including: music, religion, family, decision making, drugs, the Internet, and even Star Wars. But it all started with Tyler telling Nas, which of the rap vet’s CDs he likes best.

God’s Son is my favorite album by you,” Tyler said. “And my second is probably Street’s Disciple,” he continued.

“Get the fuck outta here,” Nas responded.

Awkward and quirky exchanges aside, the discussion quickly picked up with the 20-year-old Tyler asking Nas for advice.

“You, Em, Jay, Snoop, like, you guys all started when you was exactly my age,” Tyler said. “The fact that you guys are still here makes me just always think, like, Fuck, could I?”

“Oh, you definitely can,” Nas replied. “Someone like you is, you’re interesting, for a lot of reasons. So someone like you, you can’t wait to see what’s next.”

And the topics continued to get deeper as the conversation went on.

“Are you, like—this question might catch you off guard, but I ask myself this—like, when you wake up, like, are you happy,” Tyler asked. “Like, are you satisfied how everything turned out?”

“Dawg, I was naming my album Life Is Good because of how happy I am about how happy things have turned out,” Nas answered. “Sometimes I may wake up and wish my kids were living with me. That’s the only thing, you know what I mean? Our loved ones that are not around no more, like my mom. That’s the only thing. But other than that, everything is great, even when I’m alone. Even when there’s no one around.”

Along with the massive story on Nas—which includes a story on the Queens rapper reflecting on the 20-year, 15-year, 10-year and 5-year anniversary of his respective milestone releases, “Live at the Barbeque”, It Was Written, Stillmatic and Hip Hop Is Dead.

XXL’s November issue also has an interview with the undisputed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige where 20 different MCs including Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa and DMX, got to ask the R&B legend anything they wanted.

In addition, the forthcoming issue includes a roundtable discussion with Maino and a handful of the industry heavyhitters, for the Brooklyn MC to ask advice on the eve of the release of his sophomore album, The Day After Tomorrow.

XXL’s November issue also has features with 2 Chainz, Yelawolf and Styles P, a review of Wale’s first LP for Maybach Music, Ambition, and much, much more.

Be sure to pick up XXL’s November issue, hitting newsstands nationwide on October 25. —XXL Staff

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  • TicNitty706

    Nas did not help pioneer “shock” rap. Please stop just talking for the sake of talking.

    Anywayz, I am really feeling Nas new single “Nasty”. If that is truly a sign of things to come Nas is about to hit his 3rd wind.

    • damu

      you’re an idiot

    • aaron

      you are not feeling the single Nasty because your ear is not for Hip is for the BS that is out here…corny ass dudes with tight pants…that is cool..more great music for the real lovers of the music and culture!….WAKE UP!

      • Jhoselyn

        True.. Those are the same dudes that sound like bitches whining when they rappin

    • queensbridgelegend

      F@CK THAT TICNITTY bitch-nicca … if u listernin to soulja boi o them wack new rappers … Nas is the homie “the nicca came out wit illmatic his 1st album with no guest app and source mag gave it 5 mics” did u get that 5mics bitch #believe dat ….. the only rapper fighting bubble gum rappers “poet” “music that saves the nation”"that educates”

    • blaqonline

      Nas didnt help usher in shock rap? “when I was 12 I went to hell for snuffin jesus” might seem light to day, but in ’89 that type of shit was a shock, “Im waving automatic guns at nuns” – ’90, two of Nas’ most popular “shock” rhymes and many more you just gotta go listen bro

    • jay

      yes he did, he started stuff like tht before big l and co took it up

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  • HipHop

    Damn, that cover is fucking great.

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  • Nas.Com

    oh no… Nas likes Tyler? Im excited for Nas.Com to come out! Nas & Common

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  • Thom

    Tyler won’t be around in 2 years. That’s just the truth.

    • Stephanie

      Wow you must be a psychic. The dude’s been getting bigger and bigger since 2009 and has a lot of creativity building up and he won’t be here in 2 years because you don’t like him? Oh my god, you’re magic!

    • Jhoselyn

      This is the first time im hearing about this dude…he looks like a fool

  • Ziplok

    Hip Hop changed and now 1990s Hip Hop is dead and the “NEW” Hip Hop is being promoted all over the place…. it has nothing to do with what WE listened to in the 90s though and Nas best album was It Was Written.. anyone in the 90s that listened to CDs would tell you that… is obvious…. the other CD of Nas that was great was The Firm…. they ignore that 1 all the time…

    • jonny bizness

      Ziplock I was around in the 90′s and It was written wasn’t Nasir’s greatest work the general consensus was and still is is that it is Illmatic.

      • wewe

        fuck the general consensus..

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  • aaron

    glad I grw up in the era where you had cats like NAS come up…He is still here because he is the culture……Tyler The Creator is not going to be around next year because he does not understand what it takes to be an MC!!!!!….20 more years NAS!

    • AdanRyder

      the culture is whatever the fuck we make it. the reason Nas is still out is because he’s still out there making good music, aint got shit to do with “understanding” the culture.

  • phyx

    notice, it was XXl’s idea to have tyler the gay i mena the creator interview Nas…does Nas even know who tyler the terrible, i mean the creator is? does ANYONE know who tyle the crater face is? this is why hip hop is DEAD and whack shit is getting prmoted…XXL isnt in the business of promoting REAL music, but making a profit…look at the rest of who is featured in this issue and you see the point im making…

    • $yk

      “You, Em, Jay, Snoop, like, you guys all started when you was exactly my age,” Tyler said. “The fact that you guys are still here makes me just always think, like, Fuck, could I?”

      “Oh, you definitely can,” Nas replied. “Someone like you is, you’re interesting, for a lot of reasons. So someone like you, you can’t wait to see what’s next.”

      ^ is that enough proof that Nas has an idea of who Tyler is? Even when Nas has been in the studio with Frank Ocean?

      So you’re gonna say Busta, Mary J, Styles P & Raekwon aren’t REAL music? I don’t agree with XXL all the time either but you’re straight bugging the fuk out with that comment.

    • Steph

      Nas has worked with Tyler and he’s coming out with a song with Frank, Hodgy, Frank and him. So what are you talking about?

      • Steph

        *Tyler, Frank, Hodgy, and him

  • myjestik

    why are people putting hip hop in a box. wtf is shock rap. hip hop is hip hop

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  • Amber J

    This is such a good read!

  • stephane longin

    follw me @stephanelongin NAS GETTIN BUSY!!!!!!!

  • Hannibal

    illest cover in a long time. This is art

  • JahiSalaam

    theyre comparing TYLER to NAS? smh…………………………………………………..ssssssssmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmddddddddhhhhhhhhhhh………………….. at least nas got a cover

    • Steph

      Tyler has covers on a lot of magazines. A lot. That is such a childish argument.

  • dont have a name

    All you fuckers do is complain?


    Great article and story. Honestly, it made me wanna buy the magazine for Nas (the greatest lyricist but not rapper) of all time.

    I really wish that people were tested before blogging but that makes it soo much interesting.

    Nas didn’t “invent or create” shock rap, the writer said he helped pioneer it. Dude had a hand in it. Listen to early Nas..the poet.

    If you think Tyler ain’t the truth…download goblin and research his crew. All them dudes can spit…especally EARL.

    Hip hop is not in a box and the fact that hip hop like many music genres has SEVERAL sub groups shows its growth. If you don’t grow, you die and hip hop ain’t dead…and if it did die its spirit is everywhere.

  • jino

    What is wrong with him? Illmatic is hands down his best album. People might say its overrated, but no ,it receives that praise for a reason.

    • $yk

      “God’s Son is my favorite album by you,” Tyler said. “And my second is probably Street’s Disciple,” he continued.

      ^ you get it now?

  • me

    Nas definitely did help pioneer shock rap. big l and eminem (among other detroit rappers) helped take it further but if you look back at a lot of Nas’ early product he’s definitely one of the first.

  • tyjaka

    tyler loves haters jus sayin everybody hatin on tyler only helpin!! OFWGKTA GOLF WANNNNNNNGGG

  • B-real

    Good cover 4real
    20years is a milestone.

    Wots the release date or the Album ??
    Coz at the moment we gettin infor
    for different projects

    1. Life is Good
    2. DJ Premier says they polished details for
    their [detox like]collabo
    3. Dmx talks bout Belly Part.2
    4. Mobb Deep hints at Collabo
    5. Common 2days ago says they gonna release
    album Nas.Comm

    I like nas but hz release rate aint that steep.

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  • Real Talk

    Hopefully the album is tight. He’s doing a track with AZ again(lol). Also premo gona be on it.
    Damm Lost tapes 2? Undying Love, I gave you power, fetus >>>
    Nas> Jay Z

    All I need is One Mic

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  • johndavis


  • johndavis


    • Alessandra

      Woah lol
      buggin out

  • Nathan

    Gods son, bn shinning, happy to c him get dis cover again.

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  • XxOFWGxX

    Nas is one of the greats. Tyler is an up-and-coming great rapper. His releases are solid and OF is an amazing collection of rappers. Give them respect. They deserve support. OF does everything for themselves. Writing, recording, producing. Tyler directs all their music videos. Left Brain and Tyler produce almost all their beats. They are a team that get’s things done. Very well I might add.

  • León

    This is for all new school punks lilwayne, soulja, and the others, THIS IS MY SCHOOL, a classic, yall shoud learn whats RAP is all about, and start respect the culture

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  • Stone

    I will buy this issue no doubt!

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  • Jack_BWS

    Nas is one of the best rappers alive. or maybe he is the best rapper alive….

  • Skeeter

    I was 30 years old, I remember, my first white girls, was 18 years old, had Blonde hairy sweet pussy! I remember that shit! I had NO idea white pussy taste so sweet!
    Behind Closed Doors, I remember bangin so GOOD pussy!
    I felt that shit PULSATE! TRUST ME! I never forgot that sweet pussy! I never taste NO pussy, til that night! I know I was hook’d! shit taste so GOOD!

    shit got Nigga

  • gangsta

    I don’t understand, Illmatic isn’t mentioned once here, surely that should be considered his best.

  • music

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    A Competitive dripable blast Competitor

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  • Hip Hop

    Nas is a legend, he goes by his own rules, dont ever underestimate Ill Nas!!