NAS THE RAP KING FROM QUEENS
Nasir Jone aka Nas The hip hop king from Queens
Nasir Jones aka Nas was born on September 14, 1974. He grew up in a crime-filled neighborhood – Queenbridge, New York. During his childhood years, he was heavily influenced by his jazz-playing father, who laid the groundwork for his passion towards music. Other than music, Nasir was interested in African culture and civilization, which, along with the Bible and Koran, have a major reflection both in his worldview and his songs.
Nasir Jones aka Nas made his professional debut as a part of the Main Source group in their 1991 album – “Breaking Atoms”. Yet it was in 1994 that true fame was bestowed upon him, as that was the year the artist released his debut solo album – “Illmatic”. It quickly achieved gold status, while Nas himself was called the Rakim of his generation, which was especially amazing, considering Nasir was only twenty years old at the time.
Nas was praised for his ability to describe the dark life of the ghetto, while still conveying hope for a better future. By that time, the artist had already polished his style, getting rid of a note of anger and vulgarity, which helped him stand out from the masses rapping only about “whores” and “money”.
Nas found commercial success after his second album “It was written” debuted on the Billboard charts in first place, in June 1996. The rapper was praised for his storytelling ability, which combined with his flow, made for a unique mixture. One of the most iconic songs of that album, “I gave you power”, where Nas is telling a story through the point of view of a gun, is a perfect example of why he is considered to be one of the most creative rappers to ever hold a microphone.
Despite some signs of stagnancy, his third solo album “I Am…” topped the charts in April, 1999. In November of the same year, he released the “Nastradamus” album, following which some critics noted that he was becoming a bit too influenced by P. Diddy’s style.
After a couple of inconsistent years, Nas made his artistic comeback, during his feud with Jay-Z, which culminated in the release of two albums – “Stillmatic” and the “God’s Son”. The latter proved to be decisive in shaking the balance in his favor, as it topped the charts in R&B\Hip-Hop albums category and its single “I Can” became Nas’s biggest hit, garnering exposure on all kinds of radio stations, channels and networks. The song “Rewind”, which tells us a story about the hood in reverse, is another prime example of why Nas spikes interest not only from hardcore Hip Hop fans but from art enthusiasts and intellectuals from around the globe as well.
Afterward, Nas has released his seventh album “Street’s Disciple”, followed by a reconciliation with Jay-Z, Nasir’s signing with Def Jam and an album titled “Hip Hop is Dead”, which was a commentary on the state of the genre in the artist’s opinion. “Hip Hop is Dead” found itself on the first spot in Billboard 200 and was sold 355000 times, becoming the third best-selling album after “It Was Written” and “I Am”. Nas has two more albums to his name “Untitled” and “Life is Good” and to this day he remains one of the cornerstones of the Hip Hop industry.
Nas’s rap style is a perfect combination of exquisiteness and calculation, as he surprises the listener with his wits and unpredictability. A lot of artists agree that his innovative style also heavily relies on the rapper’s charisma and intense delivery.
Nasir Jone aka Nas is one of the few Hip Hop artists that managed to achieve recognition both from the mainstream and the underground audiences. He was nominated for a Grammy several times, yet he was always surpassed by more commercially-oriented artists. And while it may be a disadvantage accolade-wise, this also speaks about the rapper’s independency.