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Music / Nas

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He never sleeps, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death.

Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (born on September 14th, 1973), more commonly known by his stage name Nas (formerly Nasty Nas), is a popular rapper based in New York.

After his childhood in the Queensbridge housing projects, Nas entered the rap scene with his debut Illmatic in 1994. Critically acclaimed due to its educated lyrics, flawless delivery, and innovative beats, the album was an instant classic and thrust him into the critical spotlight. He was also part of the hip-hop group The Firm. His albums since then have mostly been big hits with the critics and public, although many still point to Illmatic as his best.

Aside from his rapping, Nas is best known for his feud with Jay-Z, both of them inserting jabs at each other in their songs, most notably Nas' "Ether" on Stillmatic and Jay-Z's "Takeover" on The Blueprint. However, they formally ended their rivalry around October 2005, even performing together at concerts sponsored by hip-hop radio stations based in New York.


  • Illmatic (1994)
  • It Was Written (1996)
  • The Firm: The Album (as a member of The Firm) (1997)
  • I Am... (1999)
  • Nastradamus (1999)
  • Stillmatic (2001)
  • The Lost Tapes (recovered material) (2002)
  • God's Son (2002)
  • Street's Disciple (2004)
  • Hip Hop Is Dead (2006)
  • Untitlednote  (2008)
  • Distant Relatives (with Damian Marley) (2010)
  • Life Is Good (2012)
  • Nasir (2018)
  • The Lost Tapes 2 (2019)
  • King's Disease (2020)
  • King's Disease II (2021)
  • Magic (2021)
  • King’s Disease III (2022)
  • Magic 2 (2023)
  • Magic 3 (2023)

Nas provides examples of:

  • Blasphemous Boast: Nas has a tattoo saying "God's son" on his stomach, which he references numerous times in his discography, most memorably in the title of his sixth album and in "Ether".
    God's Son across the belly, I prove you lost already.
  • Blatant Lies: The video for "Hate Me Now" begins with a disclaimer stating it does not depict the death of Jesus. Cut to Nas wearing a crown of thorns.
  • Call-Back
    • One of his earliest tracks, "One Love", from Illmatic, has a few lines in the third verse addressed to ghetto ne'er-do-wells, telling them to at least try to avoid catching innocents in the crossfire: "tough luck when n***as are struck, families fucked up, could've caught your man, but didn't look when you bucked up; mistakes happen, so take heed: never bust up at the crowd, catch him solo, make the right man bleed". "Accident Murderers" from his later album Life Is Good is addressed to someone who did not take heed at this advice: "Accident murderer, act like you killed on purpose, liars brag, you put work in; you ain't mean to murk him, your guns are virgin".
    • "The Flyest" from Stillmatic is a musical callback to "Life's a Bitch" to Illmatic. In addition to reuniting Nas with AZ, both tracks share the same producer (L.E.S.), and "The Flyest" contains several reflections on how both the rap scene and Nas and AZ's place in it have changed since "Life's a Bitch". The song also generally takes a more relaxed and optimistic tone than the bittersweet lament of "Life's a Bitch".
  • Canon Discontinuity: The track "Braveheart Party" was removed from Stillmatic, apparently at Mary J. Blige's request. Both the fans and Nas have ignored this song's existence.
  • Cover Version: "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" is actually a cover of Kurtis Blow's own hit single "If I Ruled the World".
  • Cross-Referenced Titles:
    • Illmatic was his first album, Stillmatic was his comeback album.
    • Nastradamus served as the replacement for the scrapped second disc of I Am. In conjunction, their titles can be read as I Am... Nastradamus, indicating the project's original concept.
    • "Nas is Good", the last song on King's Disease II, echoes and builds on the name of Life is Good.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Nas is depicted being nailed to the cross through the rest of the music video for "Hate Me Now". Originally, the video showed Puff Daddy also nailed to the cross along with him, but because Puffy is Catholic, he wanted his crucifixion scene excised from the video. However, the wrong edit was sent to MTV and Total Request Live and aired on April 15, 1999, and that was when the crudstorm between Puffy and Nas' manager Steve Stoute began to escalate...
  • Due to the Dead: The first and second verses of "We Will Survive" from I Am..., paying dues to Biggie and Tupac respectively.
  • Epic Rocking: "Everything" lasts over seven and a half minutes.
  • Gangsta Rap:
    • Illmatic: Blue Collar
    • It Was Written: Mafioso with shades of Commercial.
    • Subsequent albums: Blue Collar with shades of Commercial.
  • He's Back!: Stillmatic was pitched as and turned out to be his comeback record following the mixed critical and commercial response to his previous album Nastradamus.
  • Insult Backfire: Like virtually any rapper in his position, Nas shrugged off Jay-Z's "Takeover", which insulted him and fellow Queenbridge natives Mobb Deep, but as he pointed many times in later interviews, "The streets"' response to it was basically "You're gonna let him get away with talking shit about you". In fact, it's been argued that "Takeover" was the best thing to happen for Nas's career, as being the underdog for the first time in years quite possibly gave him the hunger he needed to strike back as strongly as he did.
  • In the Style of: With the help of Mr. Santana, "Back in Black" in the style of "99 Problems".
  • "Last Supper" Steal: The cover of Street's Disciple, with Nas posing for the central Christ figure as well as that of the Apostles.
  • Lonely at the Top: The latter half of "A Queens Story" from Life Is Good carries this vibe, depicting Nas by himself in a upscale nightclub toasting to the people from his childhood who are not with him.
  • New Sound Album: It Was Written shifts toward Mafioso Rap for the most part. King's Disease marked a shift toward Nas teaming up with Hit-Boy to produce his albums, which continued with its sequels and "Magic" a year later.
  • No Title: His untitled 2008 album (after the original title, Nigger, was withdrawn). Most online retailers simply title it Nas.
  • Rated G for Gangsta: Played straight and inverted several times. From Illmatic, to "Oochie Wally", to battling Jay-Z and declaring hip-hop "dead", to signing with Def Jam and Fila shoe endorsements; all the while collaborating with the entire gamut of hip-hop, from DJ Premier and Pete Rock to Trackmasters and Puff Daddy to even non hip-hop artists such as Korn, Damian Marley, and Carlos Santana. He also wrote "Getting Jiggy Wit It" for Will Smith and recorded a song with the Spice Girls' Victoria Beckham (wife of soccer player David), named "Full Stop" as well as a song with pop singer Justin Bieber named "We Are".
  • Record Producer:
    • Illmatic popularised in hip-hop the practice of using multiple producers for albums, rather than a single producer or production team. It was primarily produced by a combination of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor, L.E.S. and Q-Tip, all of whom would become regular producers for Nas over his career.
    • Much of his 90s output, including the majority of It Was Written and I Am..., featured beats from production team The Trackmasters.
    • God's Son saw Nas begin a collaborative relationship with Salaam Remi, who produced at least one track if not more on every Nas album from then until Life is Good.
    • Life is Good was largely produced by Remi and veteran hip-hop producer No I.D., best-known for his work with Kanye West.
    • Kanye himself, who had earlier produced "Still Dreaming" from Hip Hop is Dead, produced the entirety of Nasir as one of five albums from his prolific 2018 sessions at his Wyoming ranch, along with his own Ye, Kids See Ghosts, Pusha T's Daytona and Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E..
    • Beginning with King's Disease, Nas began a more traditional artist-producer relationship with Hit-Boy, who has subsequently produced the entirety of every Nas album since, including both King's Disease sequels and Magic.
    • The Firm's only, self-titled, album, was almost entirely produced by Dr. Dre, who had a major role in the group's formation.
  • The Rival
    • Jay-Z, at least until October 2005. They've since become friends and collaborated four times, on Nas's "Black Republican", Jay's "Success" and "BBC", and DJ Khaled's "SORRY NOT SORRY".
    • Narrowly averted with Tupac. Tupac thought Nas dissed him on "The Message"note , which is why he attacked him on his final album, Don Killuminati. However, Nas heard about the upcoming track through the grapevine and arranged to meet with Tupac in New York, where they cleared up the misunderstanding and Tupac promised to remove the offending line from his album. Unfortunately, the line was not removed as their encounter was mere days before Tupac's fatal shooting. Nas has since spoken of Tupac with a consistent level of respect in the years since, and it was alleged by some of Tupac's associates that he was listening to It Was Written for inspiration during his final days.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: "I Can" uses the beginning of Ludwig van Beethoven's Für Elise. Likewise "Hate Me Now" samples "O Fortuna" from Karl Orff's Carmina Burana.
  • Shout-Out: The album art for Stillmatic bares a pretty blatant resemblance to that of The Great Adventures of Slick Rick; Nas, who admires Slick Rick greatly, had it made that way as an act of Homage.
    • The It Was Written, I Am..., Nastradamus, and God's Son covers have strong references to the Weldon Irvine album covers of Sinbad, Cosmic Vortex, Spirit Man, and Music Is The Key respectively.
    • And of course, the cover of Street's Disciple is a reference to The Last Supper.
    • The gunshots in "Ether" (ostensibly being aimed towards Jay-Z) are the same gunshots heard in The Notorious B.I.G.'s famous "Who Shot Ya?", which Tupac thought was a diss track against him.
  • Supergroup: The Firm.
  • The Stoner: Has made several marijuana references, especially during his Illmatic days.
    You couldn't catch me in the streets without a ton of reefer. That's like Malcolm X catching the Jungle Fever.
    It was full of children, probably couldn't see as high as I be.
    • The intro of "Nas is Coming" has him share a blunt with The Chronic master himself, Dr. Dre.
    • "Smokin'" on Stillmatic, naturally.
  • Take That!
    • "Ether", aimed at Jay-Z as a response to Jay's "The Takeover", which dissed him (along with Mobb Deep). Fans still debate as to who had the better diss track. But general consensus is that Nas won.
    • "Destroy and Rebuild", also from Stillmatic, is essentially a stern talking-down to Cormega, Nature, and Prodigy from Mobb Deep. Cormega and Nature had beef with Nas thanks to fallout from their membership in The Firm, and Prodigy got dragged into it due to his presence on a track with Cormega where Nas was dissed - although Prodigy had later gone on record as saying his verse wasn't targeted towards Nas, and got mistaken as such because Mega dissed him without his awareness.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Briefly discusses this trope in the context of the African-American community in general and in the rap music business in particular in "Carry On Tradition".
  • Teen Genius: He was considered this after his verse on "Live at the Barbeque"(in which he was 16), his single "Halftime" (made when he was 17) and especially after the release of Illmatic (even though he was actually 21 when it came out, the recording itself took place while he was still in his teens). What's more ironic about this fact is that he's a middle school dropout.
  • Theme Naming: The nicknames he adopted for himself, Nasty NASDAQ and Dow Jones, are both named after stock indices.
  • Wretched Hive: "N.Y. State of Mind", and "N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II" both paint New York as this.