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Nas

Beginning with his classic debut, Illmatic (1994), Nas stood tall for years as one of New York City's leading rap voices, outspokenly expressing a righteous, self-empowered swagger that endeared him to critics and hip-hop purists. Whether proclaiming himself "Nasty Nas" or "Nas Escobar" or "Nastradamus" or "God's Son," the self-appointed King of New York battled numerous adversaries for his position atop the epicenter of East Coast rap, none more challenging than Jay-Z, who vied with Nas for the vacated throne left in the wake of the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 assassination. Such headline-worthy drama informed Nas' provocative rhymes, which he delivered with both a masterful flow and a wise perspective over beats by a range of producers: legends like DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock; hitmakers like Trackmasters, Timbaland, and will.i.am; street favorites like Swizz Beatz, Megahertz, and the Alchemist; and personal favorites of his own like L.E.S., Salaam Remi, and Chucky Thompson. Nas likewise collaborated with some of the industry's leading video directors, including Hype Williams and Chris Robinson, presenting singles like "Hate Me Now," "One Mic," and "I Can" with dramatic flair. Throughout all the ups (the acclaim, popularity, and success) and downs (the expectations, adversaries, and over-reaching), Nas continually matured as an artist, evolving from a young street disciple to a vain all-knowing sage to a humbled godly teacher. Such growth made every album release an event and prolonged his increasingly storied career to epic proportions.

Born Nasir Jones, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets of the rough Queensbridge projects, long fabled as the former stomping ground of Marley Marl and his Juice Crew as immortalized in "The Bridge." Despite dropping out of school, Nas developed a high degree of literacy that would later characterize his rhymes. At the same time, though, he delved into street culture and flirted with danger, such experiences similarly characterizing his rhymes. His synthesis of well-crafted rhetoric and street-glamorous imagery blossomed in 1991 when he connected with Main Source and laid down a fiery verse on "Live at the Barbeque" that earned him up-and-coming notice among the East Coast rap scene. Not long afterward, MC Serch of 3rd Bass approached Nas about contributing a track to the Zebrahead soundtrack. Serch was the soundtrack's executive producer and had been impressed by "Live at the Barbeque." Nas submitted "Halftime," and the song so stunned Serch that he made it the soundtrack's lead-off track.

Columbia Records meanwhile signed Nas to a major-label contract, and many of New York's finest producers offered their support. DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock entered the studio with the young rapper and began work on Illmatic. When Columbia finally released the album in April 1994, it faced high expectations; Illmatic regardless proved just as astounding as it had been billed. It sold very well, spawned multiple hits, and earned unanimous acclaim, followed soon after by classic status.

The two years leading up to Nas' follow-up, It Was Written (1996), brought another wave of enormous anticipation. The ambitious rapper, who had begun working closely with industry heavyweight Steve Stoute, responded with a significantly different approach than he had taken with Illmatic: where that album had been a straightforward hip-hop album with few pop concessions, the largely Trackmaster-produced It Was Written made numerous concessions to the pop-crossover market, most notably on the two hit singles, "Street Dreams" and "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)." These singles -- both of which drew from well-known songs, Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and Kurtis Blow's "If I Ruled the World," respectively -- broadened Nas' appeal greatly and awarded him MTV-sanctioned crossover success. This same crossover success undermined some of his hip-hop credibility, however, and a minor backlash by purists resulted.

Nas addressed his critics on "Hate Me Now," the second single from his next album, I Am (1999). The effort had originally been planned as a double-disc concept album comprised of autobiographical material, but when some of the tracks were leaked, I Am was scaled down and released as a single disc, with the DJ Premier-produced "Nas Is Like" chosen as the lead single. Besides "Nas Is Like" and "Hate Me Now," which both broke into the Billboard Hot 100, "You Won't See Me Tonight" and "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" also charted as singles. Originally scheduled by Columbia as a follow-up album comprised of the pirated material from the I Am sessions, Nastradamus (1999) -- released in time for the holiday shopping season, roughly six months after its predecessor -- was instead comprised almost entirely of new material, recorded quickly to meet the late-November release date. The album failed to garner the abundance of critical praise that had become customary for Nas. Moreover, unlike its two predecessors, Nastradamus failed to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at number seven instead, and failed to go double platinum. Though relatively disappointing on these counts, Nastradamus still went platinum and spawned two charting singles, "Nastradamus" and "You Owe Me," so the album wasn't a failure, just disappointing.

In the late-'90s wake of the Notorious B.I.G.'s assassination, Nas reigned atop the New York rap scene alongside few contemporaries of equal stature. In addition to his endless stream of hits by the industry's most successful producers -- "If I Ruled the World" (produced by the Trackmasters), "Hate Me Now" (Puff Daddy), "Nas Is Like" (DJ Premier), and "You Owe Me" (Timbaland), among others -- he co-starred in the Hype Williams-directed film Belly (1998) alongside DMX and contributed to the soundtrack. Furthermore, Nas led a short-lived supergroup of New York rappers known as the Firm (also comprised of rappers Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature, with producers Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters) and assembled a broad coalition of fellow Queensbridge rappers for the QB Finest compilation (2000). Amid all of this publicity, though, criticism began to mount. For every crossover fan Nas won with his dramatic MTV-aired videos, he lost support among purists, some of whom felt he had sold out, abandoning hip-hop ideals in favor of commercial success. The relative disappointment of Nastradamus was symptomatic of this downturn.

A series of incidents in 2001 provided a key turning point for Nas' decline. The rapper's personal life was becoming increasingly complicated; he encountered relationship trouble with the mother of his daughter and, of greater consequence, his mother began suffering from cancer. To make matters worse, longtime rival Jay-Z pointedly dissed Nas on "Takeover," the much-discussed lead-off song from his acclaimed Blueprint album (2001). (It didn't help that Jay-Z had risen atop the New York rap scene, giving him ample justification to call out Nas, who had receded from the public eye while he dealt with his personal issues.)

Nas responded strikingly in December 2001 with Stillmatic, the title a reference to his classic Illmatic album, which had been released nearly a decade earlier. Stillmatic opened with the song "Ether," a very direct response to Jay-Z, followed by the aggressive lead single "Get Ur Self A...." These two songs in particular rallied the streets while the moving video for "One Mic" received heavy support from MTV. Throughout 2002, Nas continued his comeback with a number of guest appearances, among them Brandy's "What About Us?," J-Lo's "I'm Gonna Be Alright," and Ja Rule's "The Pledge," as well as yet more news-making controversy, this time involving his no-show at popular radio station Hot 97's annual Summer Jam.

Amid all of the drama, Nas managed to salvage his esteemed reputation and reclaim his lofty status atop the New York scene. Stillmatic earned immediate acclaim from fans and critics alike and sold impressively, while Columbia furthered the comeback campaign with two archival releases, one of remixes (From Illmatic to Stillmatic [2002]), the other of outtakes (The Lost Tapes [2002], which notably includes some of the pirated I Am material). Then at the end of the year Columbia released a new studio album, God's Son (2002), and Nas once again basked in widespread acclaim as the album sold well, spawned sizable hits ("Thugz Mansion," "Made You Look," "I Can"), and received rampant media support. Two years later Nas returned with Street's Disciple (2004), a sprawling double album that delved deeply into various issues, most notably politics and his impending marriage to Kelis. The two-sided "Thief's Theme"/"You Know My Style" single dropped in summer 2004, several months before the album's release, and was followed that fall by the proper lead single "Bridging the Gap."

Street's Disciple came and went, however, without the level of commercial success that had become customary, as it struggled to go platinum. More troubling, new kid on the block 50 Cent took a swipe at Nas on "Piggy Bank," a call-out song on The Massacre (2005), further bringing the veteran rapper's status into question. In a surprising turn of events later that year, Nas made a surprise appearance at Jay-Z's much-hyped I Declare War concert in October 2005. Together the two rivals performed "Dead Presidents," Jay-Z's 1996 debut single; the classic song, produced by Ski Beatz and featured on Reasonable Doubt (1996), features a prominent sample of "The World Is Yours," a 1994 classic by Nas. The reconciliation of Jay-Z and Nas opened the door to a deal with Def Jam. The record label, overseen by Jay-Z as president at the time, signed Nas and, in turn, released Hip Hop Is Dead (2006). The album didn't sell especially well, but it did inspire a lot of commentary about the state of hip-hop and included a much-anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, "Black Republican." A politically charged self-titled album, at one point considered to be titled N*gger, materialized in 2008, and not without some controversy of its own. Following his divorce from Kelis, Nas released Distant Relatives, an album-length collaboration with Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, in 2010. Two years later, his divorce was addressed on the venomous Life Is Good, an album that featured Nas holding Kelis' wedding dress on the cover. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Daughters (Single)

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Track List: Hip Hop Is Dead

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Track List: Nasty (Single)

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Track List: The Don (Single)

Comments

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greenmusic20 1 3
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greenmusic20 1 3
Guys, if you wanna make some cash online go check out ATOCE.COM you can sign up for free and it's easy to get started. I've been able to make around $400 per week from it. I just wanted to share it with you as well. Copy and paste and it worked for you. Enjoy.
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lincoln723
Real S**t
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ETHER
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greenmusic20 1 3
Guys, if you wanna make some cash online go check out ATOCE.COM you can sign up for free and everything. I've been able to make around $400 per week from it. I just wanted to share it with you guys as well. Copy and paste and it worked for you. Enjoy.
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Peace god nice tunes
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papidelaisla d a v i d
Best Mc ever
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Nasty nas
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Nas is a really dope MC, one of the best for sure. But to say he the best? Shiiit .. Rakim Allah the best mc to ever touch a mic. Period. Check out the golden era MC's ( Rakim, g rap BDK, KRS, chuck D) them cats the foundation
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crystalwilli a m s 4 1 6 5
Astoria Projects to Queens Bridge. 21 Street to Vernon Blvd. Late 80's thru the 90's. Salute the Big Homie who made it out the war zone where all the Gods spit knowledge sold crack and pushed ya s**t back. Should be lucky he gave y'all the knowledge. Pay homage!
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Nas is the best...hands down...word. I hail from Knoxville, Tn. and I have been down with this bruhtha since day one. It's crazy that some hip-hop heads won't give my dude an ear. Their loss for still being loss.. haha.
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BEST OF ALL TIME. 4-SHO
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Stop calling this man a n**ger. He's a genius. Definitely one of the best Hip Hop artists of all time and one of the only left. I think he's underrated.. . And of course beautiful
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The best n**ger in the 90's
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Dame NAS sexy
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One of the best,Nas..no doubt.
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Yo this my n**ga son! Word up!!
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Still a banger! NAS wit the real ish!
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charlesandra q u e l 9
None greater...PE R I O D ! ! ! Maybe some "as" nice...but Nasty is 20 years deep and still challenges the attentive ear when he spits!
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One Of N.Y' Finest Lyrist' One Of the greatest Hip-hop Artist Of All Time's ! Thank You NAS !
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Classic...20 years from now it will still be a banga
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Real Rap 100%
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It was written...
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NAS ILL....IF I RULE DA WORLD I WOULD TREAT ALL YOU GOOD FOE REALS....... L . A (213)....... . .
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Nas is lyfe ❤️
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Idk about.nas but he not like sms or plies so bye and u can hate me now
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See you on 4/18 @ Red Rock Amp!
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Love this ish!
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greenmusic20 1 3
If you guys wanna make around $25 - $100+ per day online go to ATOCE.COM you should be able to Sign Up for FREE and it's easy to get started. I'm personally making $600+ per week from it, but I've been doing it for a while now. Copy and paste this if it works for you. You're welcome.
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O Israel black people Hebrew when are we going back to Jerusalem Zion
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That's the god right there...PEAC E NAS!!!
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TOP 5 DEAD OR ALIVE
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this song go I still like it even. tho it old lol
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Something must've got in us cuz we all turned to sinners. AZ the realest!
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"F**k a yard God, Lemme see A Hundred Grand!!!"
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He's right... Hip hop is dead
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Been rockin wit nas escobar for yrz. Love it ain't hard to tell. N 2nd childhood.
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Bye Bye. Baby!!!!
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Classic hip hop
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Piss Poor review of the Best emcee of all time smh.
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Get, get, get down... r i p James Brown
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Love love love me some NAS you go ham love you**NAS
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Yeahhhh
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Yo I'm unstable, kick in your door, run through your house like cable.
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Man Jdees ain't got nothing on NAS
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In my humble opinion Nas is the best lyricist since Rakim
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Nas greatest ever
crucial
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I was the only Compton n**ga with a "New York State of Mind"
Inside the dope house bottlin' up sherm, bangi n ' The Firm
Dre was king then so I waited my turn
Fast forward, now I'm makin 'em burn
Ended my peers careers, hollered at Nas, a hard lesson was learned"
So I reconciled my differences like he did with Jigga
I stopped beefin' with n**gas, cause I'm "Ether" to n**gas
Comb the earth 'til there's no one left
"If I Ruled the World" I summons all you weak rap n**gas to death
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NY king
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Nas ill....jay str8 but he aint s**t after tryin to dis him. Super ugly was a str8 dis record though.
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