Last week, Nas announced that he was launching a new label, Mass Appeal Records, and unveiled a slew of projects in the works, from a posthumous Pimp C album to a compilation with some of hip-hop's current superstars to Nas' The Lost Tapes 2. But he also announced the first three signings to the label, in Detroit's Boldy James, Bishop Nehru from New York and 2010 XXL Freshman Fashawn out of California. The three rappers make sense when aligned next to Nas: Boldy rocks the same type of street cred that Nas oozed on Illmatic; Bishop's mixtapes have been dusting off the early-1990s New York boom bap sound, and Fashawn has the type of lyrical dexterity that has often placed him on lists of underrated MCs.

With Mass Appeal Records officially launched, XXL hopped on the phone with Boldy James and Fashawn to speak about linking up with Nas, their respective deals with the label, and what they've got in the works. Big things coming. —Dan Rys and Eric Diep