September 14, 2019

Happy Born Day, Nas! (The World Is Yours)

Nas was born just 20 46 years ago in the Queensbridge Houses, a project in New York City, but his spirit is somewhat older. "My soul's been rapping since the first man walked in Africa," he says. "At night, my spirit still goes hunting down there." With the release of his debut album, Illmatic, Nas is being hailed as a savior of sorts, a man who can return hip-hop to its hardscrabble roots. "For a while, rap was into this black-power sh!t," he says. "Then it was that gangsta shi!t. But here we are, just talking about a young black man in Manhattan." Growing up in the projects, Nas listened to the Jackson 5 ("ABC" all the time," he says) and began perfecting his rap style in high school. He had become interested in writing and saw rap as the most direct way to get it all down, the good and bad and funny things that happen in the street. "Music is what I invent," he says. "It's what I write in the down low. So I want everyone to hear it. Jews, whites, blacks, Asians. Even if they don't like it, they need to hear it. If I can go to class and learn Hebrew or Spanish, if I can go to church and learn religion, they can learn rap." To fans, Nas is a sort of hip-hop Proust, getting down all the detail that creates an emotion. For his part, Nas attributes his effect to a certain solemnity. "I sit down and write my sh!t like Clinton is about to call me to the mike," he says. "Like I could tell Mr. Rudy Giuliani, 'Yo, bitch, f#cking b!tch-ass n!@@-r.' Know what I mean? Like when I rap, everyone can hear me." - Rolling Stone, 1994. Happy Born Day, Nas - this felt like a nice article to share today.