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From Lil Wayne to Kendrick Lamar: Nas' five favourite modern rappers

Nas is your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. It can all be traced back to when he was a fresh-faced 21-year-old in 1994 and delivered one of the most seminal albums that the genre has ever produced in Illmatic and has been a mainstay of the scene ever since.

You’ll struggle to find a hip hop aficionado that doesn’t include that as one of their most treasured records and view it as Nas’ magnum opus. It’s been a quarter of a century since then, and over recent years, the New Yorker has returned to form with his pair of King’s Disease records, which he’s released over the past 12 months.

As someone from the old-school era of hip-hop, but when asked about his favourites contemporary artists, Nas reeled off five names that he truly appreciates. After naming his list, the rapper simply said, “They inspire me”. He’s an artist who has embraced the changes that the genre has been through, and perhaps, his acceptance of the evolution of hip hop is a reason why he’s had such lasting longevity. While others are stuck in the ’90s, Nas has continued to look forward.

In a discussion with Revolt’s Music Talks series in 2016, Nas named the five rappers from this current era which he rates the illest and heaped praise upon.

First up is Drake, who previously said, “Nas, nobody can fuck with Nas. He’s the best rapper, personally.” The two of them have worked together in the past when they both jumped on Nicki Minaj’s song, ‘Champion’, and when they performed together at the Irving Plaza in New York, Drizzy bowed down to Nas’ greatness as he made his way on stage.

Kendrick Lamar is another disciple of Nas, who he named as a favourite, and when To Pimp A Butterfly won the best album at the Grammy’s, he made sure to shout out his hero. He told the crowd, “This for hip hop. This for Illmatic, this for Nas. We will live forever.”

Lil Wayne and Nas were entangled in a beef towards the end of the late ’00s, with the two going back and forth on tracks. Yet, seemingly, that’s all forgotten now, with the latter including him among his list of modern favourites. J. Cole, like Kendrick, grew up idolising Nas’ and has named him as one of his favourite rappers of all time. He is a somewhat unexpected addition on the list after, in 2013, he released the song, ‘Let Nas Down’. Cole wrote the song after discovering Nas’ hated his track, ‘Work Out’, but he evidently won him around eventually.

The final name that Nas’ picks out is Rick Ross, and this one is the least shocking pick of all, considering the array of times they have worked together. Furthermore, last year, Ross even hinted at a full collaborative album between the duo, which I’m sure is something we can all get behind.

Nas’ five favourite modern rappers

  • Drake
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Lil Wayne
  • J. Cole
  • Rick Ross