Nas. What can we say? Thank you for decades of lyrical talent, and for always pushing the bars higher. As a young man in the 80’s, hailing from the rough and gritty Queensbridge,  he linked with the icon Large Professor and started piggy backing studio time. While these tracks have yet to be released, as fans we can only hope.

His 1994 debut “Illmatic” changed the game, with production by Large Pro, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, DJ Premier and others, it was bound to be history making  classic and it was. His father, the jazz musician Olu Dara was also featured on this debut, showing how deep the musical roots run.

With his second album, “It Was Written” in 1996 some say he went a bit commercial, but is that not what brought Hip-Hop to the state it is now? Nas made it radio friendly without dumbing down his message. His collabo with Lauryn Hill on “If I Ruled The World” instantly became the anthem to many. “Street Dreams” opening with the not well known but instantly recognizable Mickey & Sylvia “Love is Strange,” he did something different. When that track starts…He then pays homage to another classic “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. This being done early in his career shows a knowledge of self and of the musical roots.

His other albums gave us the bravado of “Hate Me Now” a challenge to the critics of his mainstream success. He has walked a tight rope for his fans, keeping his material lyrically sound, while also crossing over to mainstream audiences. He did it well and really set a precedent for others.

The Jay-Z vs Nas era was epic. While now it is old news at the time it was in everybody’s conversation. After attacks at being fake Nas clapped back in his album “Stillmatic” it was a lyrical battle and never escalated to violence as we have seen in the past.

Post Jay-Z “One Mic” went so hard, it made the most docile listener want to throw a bottle though a window. The slow build is genius, Nas spoke once again, and at the crescendo we all are him.  We just need him to keep making music.

For those of you who know and love Nas this is a walk down memory lane, for those that don’t know him…you need to.

Happy 40th Birthday Nasir Jones. Hip-Hop loves you.


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