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"Name a rapper that I ain't influenced."
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones (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 the public, although many still point to Illmatic as his best.
Aside from his rapping, Nas is best known for his feud with his rival 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 Album) released July 15, 2008 (It was originally to be titled N****r, but was changed for obvious reasons.)
- Distant Relatives released May 25, 2010 (with reggae artist Damian Marley)
- Life Is Good is scheduled for release on July 17, 2012
He 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.
- Boss Battle: Nas has had many beefs over his career, but Jay Z was by far his toughest opponent.
- 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".
- Due to the Dead: The first and second verses of "We Will Survive" from I Am..., paying dues to Biggie and Tupac respectively.
- Gangsta Rap: Type 1, with bits of Type 2 (and It Was Written was more Type 4).
- Genre Savvy: Just listen to "Where Are They Now?"
- 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".
- In the Style Of: With the help of Mr. Santana, "Back in Black" in the style of "99 Problems".
- New Sound Album: It Was Written shifts toward Mafioso Rap for the most part.
- No Title: His untitled 2008 album (after the original title, N****r, 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.
- Supergroup: The Firm.
- 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.
- 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 (19 when it was released).
- The Rival: Jay-Z, at least until October 2005.
- Rousing Speech/ World of Cardboard Speech: "One Mic".
- Signature Song: "N.Y. State of Mind".
- Shout-Out: The album art for "Stillmatic" bares a pretty blatant resemblance to that of "The Great Adventures of Slick Rick".
- What Could Have Been: He and frequent collaborator AZ have repeatedly discussed a collabo album that has never come to fruition.
- Much of I Am... was completely rerecorded in one month after several of the planned tracks were leaked to the internet. For those curious, most of the leaked material(notably, "Drunk by Myself" and "Poppa was a Playa") eventually was released on The Lost Tapes, which makes one wonder what I Am... would have originally sounded like.
- Wretched Hive: "N.Y. State of Mind", and "N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II" both attempt to describe New York as this.