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    48 Comments     Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

    KING Legacy: Nasir Jones

    In part one of our first-ever Legacy Q&A, God’s Son raps with our Senior Editor Thomas Golianopoulos about his eyebrow-raising new album, his heroes and the reason he dissed Tiger Woods.

    NAS HAS AWFUL HANDWRITING—as in doctor’s-handwriting awful. I know this because, while he’s getting a haircut in another room, I’m down the hall snooping through a pad and some loose papers. It’s Nasir Jones’ book of rhymes.

    There’s a title at the top of a page: “Memories of a Project.” It sounds fake—something off one of those bogus track listings that “leak” onto the Internet months before an album’s release date. But there are lyrics scrawled below the title—not that I can read them. I can only make out half a bar, “My skid-row barrio.”

    I’m about to look closer, but I hear a voice booming from the hallway. “Come with me/Hail Mary, nigga run quick, see.” Nas strolls into the studio still reciting 2Pac, of course, over-enunciating the last syllable of every half bar, and takes a seat.

    We’re at Westlake Studios on Beverly Boulevard, about two blocks from the Beverly Center, hangout to L.A.’s upper-middle-class mallrats. These are the dungeons of rap circa 2008. It’s where Michael Jackson recorded Thriller in 1982. It’s where Nas recorded his new album. The title? Yes, that word. Yes, ending with an “er.” It’s provocative, ambitious and kind of a risky move.

    Today Nas will address the new album, but in the inaugural KING Legacy Q&A, he also tackles his entire 17-year career: the feuds with Biggie, 2Pac and Jay-Z; It Was Written; his overzealous fans; “Ether”; success; and “Success.” And the answer to the million-dollar question: Is he the greatest of all time?

    The hot rumor is that Def Jam will drop you if you don’t change the album title. Any legs to that?
    Somebody told me that [one] about me getting dropped. That sounds funny, though. I guess that just stays a rumor. But I enjoy those rumors too, because that means there’s fear.

    What will it say about the record industry if Def Jam drops you, 10 albums deep, over a single word?
    That starts a revolution. It sparks something within the hip-hop community, within the streets, within the people outside the streets. It raises an eyebrow to the situation, you know? Nobody wants to deal with the word “nigger,” because what comes with the word “nigger” is a whole history where you show so much injustice, and you show so much that has not been fixed yet. So it’s a scary thing. But it’s also uncomfortable when I’m dealing with it. Like, no one can tell me what to do. None of the black leaders, none of these motherfuckers, record companies, none of them can tell me what to do. Because you can’t stop what I want to do, you understand?

    Do you remember the first time you were discriminated against because you were black?
    The first time I opened up a Superman comic book. The first time I saw Flashdance, with the light-skinned, beautiful bitch who’s chasing after some white cat, which…I don’t have nothing against interracial relationships—love ’em, actually.

    Wait. On “These Are Our Heroes,” you mentioned Tiger Woods…
    A lot of times, when people look at me, they look too deep into it. Tiger Woods standing up for this white lady who said something about him being lynched is a coon move to me. God bless the brother. I like to see him doing his thing, but that’s a flaw to his character. That’s an issue I would have with Tiger Woods; not who he is married to. I don’t even know who he’s married to.

    I’m asking because you shouted out him, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Taye Diggs. They’re all married to white women.
    I saw Cuba Gooding do a hand spin or some shit on an awards show—that’s very coonish to me. I can’t remember what Taye Diggs did, but I didn’t know he was married to a white woman. You know who my hero is? Richard Pryor. He was married seven times. My favorite wife of his is Debra, one of the white girls.

    Who else were your heroes?
    Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Yoko Ono.

    Yoko?
    Love her.

    Why Yoko?
    How could you not love Yoko?

    She broke up the Beatles.
    That was a great thing, ’cause then she gave us “Give Peace a Chance,” “Imagine.” When John Lennon left the Beatles, he was able to do that shit.

    OK, on to your music. I’m not making this up: On the flight from New York, the person next to me asked why I was going to L.A. I said, “I’m interviewing Nas.” She said, and I paraphrase, “I like Nas, except when he rapped like he was a drug kingpin.”
    Oh, that’s great, man. If you have a catalog, you go back to certain records guys did, and one record is for [one] crowd, another record is for another crowd. It shouldn’t all be the same thing; it should be all different dimensions of yourself. I was talking about coke on my first album because that’s what I was around. On the second album, you had to take it to the next level—that Escobar lifestyle with the hot shoes; a nigga was dressing up the way I always wanted to be. I kept it thorough with who I was. A lot of fans aren’t into gangster rap. They are going to listen to shit they like, and that’s cool.

    Do your longtime fans have unrealistic standards for you?
    I like to hear somebody else say it, ’cause I know I’m not crazy. Yeah, man, I got the craziest, most hard-core fans in the game, and I love them, man. I’m human and I show you that. I wear that on my sleeve. I’m honest to a fault most of the time. And if they hear you being honest about one thing, they think that’s all you are. Then you might touch on something else, and it’s, “Hey, what’s going on?” And they don’t really know. It’s like, I’m here recording, giving you guys a piece of me. I’m giving motherfuckers little bits and pieces of me.

    If you stray from anything you did on Illmatic, it’s, “How dare you?”
    That’s not me no more. If Preme got a track that I feel can fit on my shit, great. If Large Professor got a track that I feel can fit on my shit, great. But we did our project together. We done that.

    Did you know that It Was Written would alienate your core fans?
    I knew when we recorded “If I Ruled the World” that a lot of people were going to be thrown way off. That was the whole challenge of it. If you didn’t feel nervous in your gut, then you were bullshitting yourself. At that point, everyone was doing Illmatic. People were sounding like me also. So with that, it was, “Now, let me do something they can’t do.”

    Did you doubt Steve Stoute’s vision for your career?
    Nah, that was the whole point. When we met, it was both of our decision to take on the world. We needed to step into the million-dollar bracket now, and that’s what we did together, along with TrackMasters. Everybody else had a squad, a team. The players in the game at that time were Puff and Biggie, RZA and Wu-Tang, Dr. Dre and Death Row. It only made sense for us to come together. Steve used to say that I’m scared of success. We would be doing stuff top of the world, and I would be like, “Nah, man, that’s too much.” I was straight out the projects. I wasn’t used to dealing with these industry folks. I wasn’t with it.

    What did he want you to do?
    Just go kill the game. That’s not what I wanted to do. I done seen my pops come up and do his music thing and have his life. Around that time, people like Mase started to become really big, a lot of people were becoming really big, and it all seemed phony to me. I felt like I could maintain. I watched Scarface’s career at the time, and he was doing a million off the underground, the streets. It was like the way I grew up listening to N.W.A., the streets, no radio. It started to get too big for me. The second album, the third album, it was starting to get too big.

    Did you make bad decisions artistically?
    Nah, I was holding it down. I would do a Primo track, “Nas Is Like,” for the lead single and then come with “Hate Me Now.” I was playing the game, but there were other parts of the game that I had to play. I wasn’t trying to show up for nothing—endorsements, tours. You couldn’t put a gun to my head and make me tour.

    Click here to read Part Two

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    This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 at 4:35 pm and is filed under Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    48 Responses to “KING Legacy: Nasir Jones”

    04.29.08 at 6:37 pm

    Tiger Woods » KING Legacy: Nasir Jones says:
    [...] – KING-mag.com wrote an interesting post today on KING Legacy: Nasir JonesHere’s a quick excerptIn part one of our first ever Legacy Q&A, God’s Son raps with our Senior Editor Thomas Golianopoulos about his eyebrow-raising new album, his heroes and the reason he dissed Tiger Woods. [...]

    04.30.08 at 12:51 am

    Hiatus says:
    It Was Written is #2 in my book next to Illmatic. I love all of Nas’ work, but that record hit home with me. we all know that what ever the man touches, he’s golden! It’s just that hip-hop is no longer HIP-HOP, it’s HIP-POP… Selling people dreams of drug dealing and fancy cars. Wake up people, it’s about being genuine… We’ve lost that as a culture.

    04.30.08 at 12:04 pm

    stoneyisland says:
    Nas calls Tiger and Cuba uncle toms but he is empowering white folks to run around yelling “NIGGER” fuck Nas his moms should have aborted his “coon” ass. He is a disgrace to black people everywhere. it’s a shame he has to resort to gimics to sell albums. First it was hip hop is dead which sold maybe 100 copies now he wants a album named NIGGER to help him sell albums? Nas is like that sorry ass slave that use to tell on other slaves to the massa. I will never buy anything he puts out, my son will never buy anything he puts out. My peoples will never support this sell out. Fuck Nas.

    04.30.08 at 12:48 pm

    Genral says:
    That’s not me no more. If Preme got a track that I feel can fit on my shit, great. If Large Professor got a track that I feel can fit on my shit, great. But we did our project together. We done that. Say good bye to that Preme/Nas album. lol Other than that – God Son the great – most intelligent insightful rapper in hiphop. N***er = discussion. Case closed.

    04.30.08 at 12:52 pm

    Genral says:
    @Stoney isalnd Your an idiot – he didn’t call them anything he shouted them out on a socially consouis record – analsying our so called heores. When have you heard any of those three get involded in black issues? …. ??? point proven. Secondly – to sell albums – when did he say that?? Who said that? You?? Okay – read the interview little man – nas aint did no sneaker commerical. nas aint never done no beer commerical dick shit. if nas was about money he would done alot of shit your favourite ringtone rapper or JayZ or who is doing. Nas is bred for the plan. Smarten up god. Cop that negro album.

    04.30.08 at 8:52 pm

    Truth Serum says:
    @Genral – Ever think about no one asking Nas to do any of the things Jay Z has done (& I’m not a Jay Z Fan). & it is a job not a hobbie therefore it is always about money. If it wasn’t then why take checks… yeah yeah a brotha gotta live… but you work to make money… if it wasn’t bout money then he could have stuck to rapping at poetry slams for free and getting his message out. There are 4 things you need to survive in this world. Food, Water, Air & Money. 3 Made by God and One by humans. If you don’t think you need money then give all yours away. Peace

    04.30.08 at 9:39 pm

    TJ says:
    Nas is trying to start some controversy to get people talking again. He fell off a long time ago. “Hip Hop is Dead” was whackkkkkk!

    04.30.08 at 10:08 pm

    moresickaMC says:
    @stoneyisland give us all a break. 95%+ of the rap CDs you own probably have the word nigger in them. So if you are that angry about the word please feel free to throw all those Cd’s out today. Until then, quit the hypocrisy

    04.30.08 at 10:21 pm

    moresickaMC says:
    If you don’t like NAs’ music…f*** off, go listen to Jay-Z’s crack tales forever.

    04.30.08 at 10:41 pm

    rec says:
    There’s nothing wrong with doing things for money, but don’t lose sight of yourself and your people in the process. These rappers these days will do anything for a buck (and y’all embrace this coonery) When Nas felt something went against his principles he didn’t do it…period. We should all commend him for that. He always saw a higher purpose.
    For all the money I’ve seen Jay-z make in all these years (bravo)I’ve never sensed that, sense of purpose, in his business moves or his music. i love Jay but I respect Nas a whole lot more.

    04.30.08 at 10:58 pm

    LEFTY 215 says:
    A wise man once told me “people hate people who make them think” the average american is so programmed and told what to think and like when they’re challenged it make them fold like lawn furniture to me hip-hop died when we kissed radio and every other form of medias ass to accept OUR culture. remember when cube said “trying to bury rap like they buried jazz” it’s real close “no Ice Cube just Vanilla Ice” i know these are old bars but they so reflect the sad state of our music. I appreciate anyone who seems to be an free thinking artist/individual. Remember when it was punk moutherfuckers got ran out of town for being a stan and taking others idea and material the good old days. Peace

    04.30.08 at 11:57 pm

    Boss says:
    Stoney island with the way you articulate yourself and state your points I can safely say your nothing more than a nigger yourself. All you can do is cuss and throw out insults like “fuck nas, his mom should have aborted” blah. That is the traits of a coon nigger. Niggers don’t know how to express their opinion or have an argument without using insults and cussing someone out. Your a uneducated nigger. Go and learn how to state your opinions/arguements without acting like a ignorant nigger.

    04.30.08 at 11:58 pm

    Boss says:
    Stoney island with the way you articulate yourself and state your points I can safely say your nothing more than a nigger yourself. All you can do is cuss and throw out insults like “fuck nas, his mom should have aborted” blah. That is the traits of a coon nigger. Niggers don’t know how to express their opinion or have an argument without using insults and cussing someone out. Your a uneducated nigger. Go and learn how to state your opinions/arguements without acting like a ignorant nigger…

    05.1.08 at 3:33 am

    4thletter! » Blog Archive » Black History Month 31: I Can’t Sleep (On This) says:
    [...] Case in point, from King Magazine (vaguely nsfw, bikinis): Do you remember the first time you were discriminated against because you were black? The first time I opened up a Superman comic book. The first time I saw Flashdance, with the light-skinned, beautiful bitch who’s chasing after some white cat, which…I don’t have nothing against interracial relationships—love ’em, actually. [...]

    05.1.08 at 5:13 am

    KING Magazine Interviews Nas | Part 1 | Nas Has Awful Handwriting « Ldn x10 | Hip-Hop Over Here says:
    [...] FULL FIRST HALF OF THE INTERVIEW HERE [...]

    05.1.08 at 6:25 am

    Frank says:
    Nas speaks his mind, ya dig? Respect that or keep it movin

    05.1.08 at 6:39 am

    KUNG FU » Blog Archive » NEW NAS INTERVIEW says:
    [...] NAS IS LIKE! « SPECIAL TIMES? [...]

    05.1.08 at 8:55 am

    Genral says:
    @Truth Serum – read what rec said. @Rec – you said it better than me but that wassup! Nuff said.

    05.1.08 at 9:51 am

    stoneyisland says:
    Genral says:
    @Stoney isalnd Your an idiot -
    Boss says:Stoney island with the way you articulate yourself and state your points I can safely say your nothing more than a nigger yourself Both of you so called educated high school graduates can both go kill yourselves. I didnt know I was being graded on a blog for proper english, however I digress. For the record Stoneyisland is one word you ignorant, uncouth, country ass bumpkins. Let that marinate while you grown ass muthafucka’s are still living in your grandmama’s basement, turn off that Xbox and do sumptin with your lives, playing a cyber thug on line is so 90′s :) grow up bitches….Oh yeah one love:)

    05.1.08 at 12:54 pm

    Truth Serum says:
    @Genral & Rec – I got what you are saying now – & Respect 2 Both U! Which was my point some in that Jay went mainstream where Nas has strayed some but he has stayed more true. Just as know having is Album named Ni66er will actually hurt his pocket more in the mainstream which is why I think he is doing it to prove a point. All in all I’m a Public Enemy & Paris Fan – Paris had a song called Bush Killa and it don’t get much more politically gangsta then that.

    05.1.08 at 1:32 pm

    KING’s Nas Q&A « 4hiphop’s Weblog says:
    [...] Legacy: Nasir Jones No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTMLallowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> [...]

    05.1.08 at 1:39 pm

    Two part Nas interview « Inverse says:
    [...] part 1 [...]

    05.1.08 at 6:07 pm

    KING Interviews Nas at SNICKA.com says:
    [...] KING Legacy: Nasir Jones [...]

    05.1.08 at 7:10 pm

    Nas - KING Magazine Q & A « On221.com says:
    [...] Part 1 [...]

    05.1.08 at 8:44 pm

    dizi » Blog Archive » 05/01/08 - Nas King Mag Interview Part 2… says:
    [...] Code: /online/?p=5304 [...]

    05.1.08 at 9:23 pm

    Nas King Interview « Don’t Sweat The Technique says:
    [...] Nas talks to King about how Pun helping him write his verse on John Blaze, his beef with Biggie and whether or not he was talking about Jay on “Success”,  “Is he the best ever”, how G Rap bodied him on Fast Life, Tiger Woods, John Lennon and about Nigger. Read Here…Part 1,Part 2 [...]

    05.1.08 at 11:38 pm

    King Legacy : Nasir Jones part.1 & 2 « Essays on BAP-ism says:
    [...] KING Legacy: Nasir Jones [...]

    05.2.08 at 2:25 am

    I agree says:
    I’m up late studying for an exam tomorrow and I stopped here to read my favorite artist, Nas’ new article (plus I saw Stacey Dash on the cover!). And low and behold, here I find the most ignorant Nigger (hopefully the album drops in June!) in the world, STONEY ISLAND! First off, when did Stoney Island become one word? Secondly, because you think that Stoney Island is one word, you do not need to comment on anything Nas has said or done. He’s way above your level. Oh, and another thing, it’s 2008. People are now so called educated COLLEGE graduates. Have you been in jail or something or are you 12yrs old? Leave this conversation upto grown men for discussion.

    05.2.08 at 11:35 am

    GR3UM5 says:
    nigger lp will be great!
    talk of the greums

    05.2.08 at 6:12 pm

    Mr. Rogers says:
    Nobody never asks Nas about AZ??? When is he gon get back with AZ?

    05.3.08 at 5:50 pm

    Two Part Nas Interview « M2M says:
    [...] Part 1 [...]

    05.3.08 at 10:30 pm

    Scoopdatdude says:
    Only when readin up on real shyt, like ma nigga Nas, im sparked to written a blog… I just gotta put out there that mad niggas seem to not be able to relate to Nas’ shyt, since Illmatic. It must be that niggas just cant grow up like he did. Da nigga is da best since Pac and those niggas will never be able to understand that shyt because they too shallow.1

    05.5.08 at 10:29 pm

    Nas King Magazine Interview | The Kaos Effect says:
    [...] Part 1 [...]

    05.5.08 at 10:29 pm

    Nas King Magazine Interview | The Kaos Effect says:
    [...] Part 1 [...]

    05.8.08 at 4:37 pm

    » KING Pen: Legends’ Ball - KING-mag.com says:
    [...] I’ve read many Nasir stories since then, but none inspired me to put together an iTunes playlist of ol’ boy’s catalog ’til the inaugural KING Legacy Q&A in this issue (wait ’til the uncut edition hits king-mag.com). The piece is as comprehensive as it’s gonna get. Unless Mr. Jones writes a book, like the cover line says, you’re wasting your time reading anything else Nas-related. The legend (yeah, he can have that) is candid, honest and uncharacteristically clear; he doesn’t back down from senior editor Thomas Golianopoulos’ invasive questions–admirable. I’m big on B.I.G., but I will admit he had it twisted when he said dude’s reign on the top was short like leprechauns. [...]

    05.12.08 at 10:47 pm

    ALBANO says:
    1st of all NAS is the best rapper in the industry right now… How could he sak Him sucha Stupid question like ” Dej Jam Dropping the Album.. Yo man You can’t defeat NAS .. He’s a legend. And even if he lyrically expressed himself in from a Gangster to a diciple.. I think it’s real.. He sings about what he seen and lived. Thomas Golianopoulos .. were did he Grow up ??? The industry need’s a NEW SET OF A&R’s.. Not hatin but if You’ve been rappin for a year and a half… Your ass don’t deserve to get signed . There is exeptions of course but yall true artists now what I mean.. My artist name is GoldenChilD because everything I touch turns to Gold ..you DiG ?!? empire-music@hotmail.com http://www.myspace.com/Albidamned

    05.13.08 at 6:13 am

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