In a new cover story for Ebony magazine, hip-hop pioneer Nas reveals that he contracted COVID-19 late last year and details his struggles with the virus. “I caught COVID in late October,” he admits. “This is the first time [I’m] mentioning it. It was a tough time. It was mentally and physically hard. It’s just today’s world, with chemical warfare, crazy politics, racism, food shortages, police malpractice, Black-on-Black murder. The human spirit is being tested. I think that God has a plan for all of this. But right now, we’re in a serious time.”
Elsewhere in the profile, he reveals the contemporary rappers who inspire him while freely offering his advice for them to reach the level at which he currently finds himself. “I like Lady London,” he says, praising the rising rapper whose freestyles on social media have repeatedly gone viral, making her part of a rising tide of female rappers distinguishing themselves in the modern streaming era. He also salutes another pair of rappers who have impressed him lyrically. “Kendrick Lamar. Cordae. I think rappers today have [an] entrepreneurial spirit, and they know even more than what I used to and are seizing opportunities. They just have to balance the street and their long-term goals.”
Meanwhile, Nas himself sees his inspirations as the high watermark to achieve. “I just wanna become as great as the ones I came up thinking were the greatest,” he says. “Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, LL, Slick Rick, Ice Cube—the list goes on. I just wanna be able to look at myself and say that I did what they are doing.”
You can read Ebony‘s full feature here.