Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (born in September 14, 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 released April 19, 1994
- It Was Written released July 2, 1996
- The Firm: The Album released October 21, 1997 (As a member of The Firm)
- I Am... released April 6, 1999
- Nastradamus released November 23, 1999
- Stillmatic released December 18, 2001
- The Lost Tapes (recovered material) released September 24, 2002
- God's Son released December 13, 2002
- Street's Disciple released November 30, 2004
- Hip Hop Is Dead released December 15, 2006
- Untitled released July 15, 2008 (It was originally to be titled Nigger, but was changed for rather obvious reasons.)
- Distant Relatives released May 25, 2010 (with reggae artist Damian Marley)
- Life Is Good released July 17, 2012
- Nasir released June 15, 2018
Nas provides examples of:
- 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 most recent 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".
- 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".
- 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.
- 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 Depp, 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 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.
- 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".
- The Rival: Jay-Z, at least until October 2005.
- 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.
- 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.—'"Halftime"
- 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.
- 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.