31 Comments Thursday, May 1st, 2008
KING Legacy: Nasir Jones, Part Two
In part two of the first-ever KING Legacy Q&A, Nas addresses his feuds with Tupac and Jay-Z and answers the eternal question, “Are you the best ever?” Story by Thomas Golianopoulos
Your concerts today are pretty eventful; you have an extensive catalog. There are fans chanting for â€œEther.â€ What are you thinking when they chant for it?
Awww, manâ€¦ People come to the shows and start to go through eras with me, and that moment right there is the greatest rap battle of this generation. So of course theyâ€™re going to chant that shit.
When did you decide to stop performing â€œEtherâ€?
After the first year, there was no need to be out there yelling peopleâ€™s names and cursing them out and shit. In 2003 I brought KRS-One out to Summer Jam, and he told me he donâ€™t like doing â€œThe Bridge Is Over.â€ I understood. Youâ€™re out there saying peopleâ€™s names that youâ€™ve since reconciled [with]. Youâ€™re talking about another person thatâ€™s alive, and for the crowd itâ€™s exciting, but for the one whoâ€™s saying it, thatâ€™s some shit.
Itâ€™s probably tougher for MC Shan.
I think itâ€™s tough for KRS-One because youâ€™re out there saying fighting words. Itâ€™s fucked up. If thereâ€™s no beef, thatâ€™s fucked up.
At your show in New York City last December, Busta Rhymes came onstage and said youâ€™re the best ever. Are you the best ever?
Bustaâ€™s my nigga. Itâ€™s very humbling. I had to stop my head from swelling up after he said that to me. But itâ€™s a great feeling to have anyone acknowledge, especially someone as great as Busta.
So, do you think youâ€™re the best?
[Laughs] Um, [long pause] I donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t know nothing about that word. At times, I do. Yeah, definitely there are some times I do, but I donâ€™t like that word. If I complete an amazing record, Iâ€™m like, â€œI got this. Niggas canâ€™t fuck with me.â€ Thatâ€™s the attitude you have because, at that moment, you know niggas canâ€™t fuck with you. There are some great motherfuckers out there, so Iâ€™m going to watch what I say. There are some amazing niggas out there.
Do you think there is a best?
Right now in rap, nah.
Lil Wayne and Jay-Z continually say theyâ€™re the best. But youâ€™ve rarely, if ever, said it in a song. Why?
I said, â€œNiggas is this and that. Iâ€™m just the best.â€ But Pun told me to say that. He was like, â€œYou got to say that. Fuck that.â€ It was on Fat Joeâ€™s record, â€œJohn Blaze.â€ Me and Pun were in the studio having a ball, and Iâ€™m writing my rhyme, and Pun leans over and says, â€œJust say, â€˜Niggas is this and that. Iâ€™m just the best.â€™ Just say that.â€ He was not letting me go without saying that. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ve said it another time.
Have you ever been bodied on a record?
Iâ€™m always kind of nervous of that to some degree. I donâ€™t know. On â€œFast Life,â€ Kool G. Rap was so out of control. I was nervous to be on a record with him.
Did that thought cross your mind on â€œBlack Republicansâ€ or â€œSuccessâ€?
Nah, that wasnâ€™t even an idea with that. It was just a glory moment. It wasnâ€™t like, â€œI got to outrap this nigga here,â€ or nothing like that. It was like we were having fun. We werenâ€™t even thinking about it.
Most people wouldnâ€™t believe that.
Iâ€™m just basing it off the vibe and the way we were getting down and just having fun. Nobody was sitting there, like, â€œWe got to make this shit incredible.â€ It was like, â€œLetâ€™s go.â€
Have you talked to Jay-Z since he left Def Jam?
Yeah. Homieâ€™s chilling, man. Heâ€™s plotting.
It was a five-second conversation? â€œHow are you, Jay?â€ â€œIâ€™m plotting.â€
On â€œSuccess,â€ how did you get away with talking about Jay?
What do you mean?
â€œWorst enemies want to be my best friendsâ€¦â€ Can you see how people can take that as a diss?
But could you see how Jay couldnâ€™t relate to that in his own life with his own situation? Everything in Jayâ€™s rhyme, I relate to. â€œIs this what success is all about?/A bunch of bitch niggas running around with big mouths.â€ I feel that every day. Iâ€™m sure he can relate to â€œBest friends want to be enemies like thatâ€™s whatâ€™s in.â€ We can both relate to one anotherâ€™s verses. Itâ€™s about success.
Then you say, â€œI walk into the lionâ€™s den and take everybodyâ€™s chips.â€ It sounds like youâ€™re saying the worst enemy who wants to be your best friend is Jay-Z. And â€œwalking into the lionâ€™s den and taking everybodyâ€™s chipsâ€ is you signing a lucrative deal with Def Jam.
Yeah, thatâ€™s how a lot of people looked at it.
So was that line about him?
Of course, of course. But thatâ€™s whatâ€™s big about him. We donâ€™t get into the studio and just start rapping about fantasy shit. We talk about shit thatâ€™s real. Itâ€™s not like a blow to nobody; itâ€™s real. I donâ€™t think he would have expected me to say anything less.
Going back some years now, did you expect Pac to call you the ringleader on Makaveli?
Yeah, honestly, I didnâ€™t expect no less at the time. Pac now is Black Jesus in a sense; Pac is Lennon; Pac is Marvin. So, hell yeah, I love the fact that he starts his album off and says that about me. Hell yeah. I loved him before he died. I loved him before he said anything.
Did Biggie ask you to team up against Tupac?
Yeah, he called me. He said, â€œLetâ€™s get together.â€ He said that everyone was a little nervous about it, but he was calling me about getting busy.
Why did nothing happen?
Getting me and Big in the same room wasnâ€™t easy. I had just dropped my record, and my schedule was crazy. Biggie was in Miami recording Life After Death. It was just timing. We were supposed to get together and talk more, so who knows what would have happened.
Well, you guys were taking shots at each other.
On a song I did on my second album, Tupac thought it was about him, but it was really toward Biggie.
[Nods] From the first lines all the way to â€œOne life, one love, there can only be one king.â€ That was specifically going in that direction. The whole fucking song, really. Tupac was not even on my radar for going at him.
Tupac thought it was about him because of that line, â€œI got stitched up and left the hospital that same night.â€
Nah, this is Queensbridge activities I am rapping about. Iâ€™m with dudes who have bullets in them, who just left the hospital, [and] we ride around smoking weed. So this is in my raps. We were in New York going at it. We werenâ€™t even thinking about no other placeâ€”Cali, Georgia, nothing.
I didnâ€™t think you were going at Biggie.
What did he say to you about it?
â€œYour reign on the top was short like leprechauns.â€ [Laughs]
Did you think you would still be making albums in 2008?
Did I ever see myself on a 10th album? No, because there werenâ€™t long careers for rap dudes back when I did my first shit, especially in New York. You had your Dana Danes, Slick Rick, Beastie Boys, Rakim, Run-DMC, Kool G, you had your superstars; then you had your underground dudes who would survive for two albums. I always saw myself as the more polished underground cat. I didnâ€™t see it really going past the first album. I did not see it. The plan was to get out of the Pâ€™s. That was it. Get out the Pâ€™s, set up a little something for the homies, go to school, try to learn how to write some other shit, novels, screenplays or figure out what you want to do in life. At the time, we didnâ€™t see any of our generation go platinum until Biggie. Him and Bad Boy showed me how to do it. I just thought it would be one record. At most, two.
Finish this sentence: Nas is likeâ€¦
A father, a husband, a son and a brother. Iâ€™m all of those, to the true sense of every word.
Click here to read the first part of Thomas Golianopoulos’s interview with Nas.
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 11:24 am 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.