Life is truly good for Nas as the forty-year-old rapper is on one hell of a late career run.
After releasing one of the best albums of his career in 2012, Nas is making big moves outside of the booth. He’s started his own clothing line, become a brand ambassador for Hennessy, and now has a TV series based on his early career in the works in collaboration with XBox entertainment. Street Dreams will be loosely based on a young Nasir Jones in the early ’90s making the transition from underground act to Hip-Hop phenomenon.
The news of the show got us thinking about what moments from that time period we would most like to see make it from our imaginations onto our respective Black Friday flatscreens. Nas’ best quality as an emcee is his ability to give life to his words so that you can visualize his lyrics. Here are five moments that we would like to see come to life.
1. Life in Queensbridge
With a jazz musician father, whom he described as a “rolling stone” and mother working hard to take care of two young sons in the world’s largest projects, a young Nasir Jones probably had a lot of time to get into trouble. What were he and his crew of adrenaline-fueled, teenaged, Queens compatriots up to at this time?
Nas is known for being an extremely descriptive writer, with vivid details and imagery giving what could be throwaway anecdotes life and color. While some stories may be embellished a bit, it would be interest to see some of the snapshots Nas has mentioned in song throughout his career come to life. Was he really a stick up kid robbing foreigners and ripping their green cards?
2. Recording “Live At The BBQ”
Surrounded by a room of up and coming emcees, Nas destroys a simple loop of “Nautilus” and creates a moment that would cause ripples throughout the Hip-Hop world. Large Professor was instrumental in Nas’ early career and development. How did he react when he heard the verse? This was pre-email, so what was the vibe in the studio? Who came up with the bright idea of letting Nas go first?
3. Nas Meets Rakim
The connection between Nas and Rakim has been evident since the beginning of his career. Since his coming out party on “Live At The BBQ,” Nas was anointed the second coming of the God MC. The Queens native more than lived up to the hype, similarly advancing the art of rhyming and raising the bar for lyricism, and acknowledged the man and their first meeting in his “Unauthorized Biography of Rakim.” It would be amazing to have that pivotal moment in Hip-Hop history on screen. Unbeknownst to both men, the torch was being passed in Power House studios when Ra’ and the Queensbridge wunderkind first crossed paths.
4. The Making of Illmatic
This is less a moment than a series of moments. From Russell Simmons allpassing on him because he sounded too much like Kool G. Rap, and G. Rap don’t sell no records,” to MC Serch getting him a better deal than Billy Joel on Columbia Records, to actually getting in the studio with Large Professor, DJ Premier, Q-Tip, and Pete Rock, there are too many interesting things happening to encapsulate in a series of scenes, or even one episode of a TV show. There is a season or two of pure television gold in the creation of this one album.
P.S. Here’s hoping that they devote at least a few minutes to AZ’s “Life’s A Bitch” verse.
5. When He Read The Illmatic Review In The Source
The Source magazine is the reason I endure the frustration of looking at a blank screen on my laptop everyday and try to make words appear. It was Hip-Hop’s Bible. It’s word was law. If The Mind Squad said you had a classic album, you had a classic album. End of story.
So when our good friend Miss Info, then known as Shortie, penned the five mic review for Nas’ debut album, the rumors and murmurings of the upstart emcee’s greatness gained instant credibility. Where was he when he read the review? Was it before press time, or did he buy a copy of the April 1994 issue with Guru (R.I.P.) and Illmatic producer DJ Premier on the cover just like I did?
That review helped propel Nas into the national spotlight, and is a benchmark on timeline of one of the greatest rappers to ever live.