At a time when live music still remains off the menu amid strict social distancing measures, we’re dipping back into the Old School Archives once again to provide a short escape within lockdown life. Here, we turn to hip-hop icon Nas for some soundtrack suggestions.
With his feet firmly planted within the roots of the New York City rap scene, Nas holds the mantle as being one of the greatest MCs of all time. With 12 groundbreaking records to his name, it is Nas’ breakthrough debut 1999 album Illmatic that many fans hold dearest. In what is undoubtedly one of the main pillars of East Coast hip hop, Illmatic exhibited Nas’ unique lyricism flawlessly, ushering in a new dawn of artist that would pioneer the genre.
“Working with great people makes you great; you learn a lot and it also gives you the experience and confidence to move on with your own career,” Nas once said, in what is the clearest indication of the respect of his hip-hop contemporaries. “Hip-hop is the streets,” he later added. “Hip-hop is a couple of elements that it comes from back in the days… that feel of music with urgency that speaks to you. It speaks to your livelihood and it’s not compromised. It’s blunt. It’s raw, straight off the street – from the beat to the voice to the words.”
With those words ringing in our ears, we turn our attentions to a selection of tracks that Nas himself holds dear to his heart. Countless figures of contemporary culture had helped shape the genre of hip-hop, and Nas has always been quick to show his respect for those around him. When asked by Mass Appeal to run through his favourites, the rapper flipped from one great to the next.
“‘Rebel Without a Pause’ by Public Enemy,” he began, without hesitation. “No-brainer,” he added, in what further emphasises his certainty. Following it up with his second selection, Nas continued: “Eric B. and Rakim, ‘Eric B. for President.’”
Again, taking the topic of conversation in his stride, Nas doesn’t need to deliberate for too long when picking out his third choice: ‘It Takes Two’ by Rob Base and E-Z Rock,” he said, before adding: “Rest in Peace E-Z Rock.”
However, the final two selections are not as straightforward. While Nas knows the artists he wants to include, deciding on specific tracks isn’t easy. “‘Children’s Story’ by Slick Rick,” he begins. “Wait, ‘Mona Lisa,’ Slick Rick,” he adds, before rethinking once more. Wait. ‘La Di Da Di.’ Yeah,” the rapper settles
“It’s either ‘Sucker MCs’ by Run-DMC, ‘It’s Like That,’ by Run-DMC, pick any Run-DMC. ‘Peter Piper.’ ‘My Adidas.’ I’ma go with ‘Sucker MCs’ by Run-DMC,” he finalises.
Adding: “That’s one of the most important records. Ever. Ever. Ever.”
See Nas making his suggestions, below.
Nas’ 5 favourite songs of all time:
- ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ – Public Enemy
- ‘Eric B. Is President’ – Eric B. & Rakim
- ‘It Takes Two’ – Rob Base and E-Z Rock
- ‘La Di Da Di’ – Slick Rick
- ‘Sucker MCs’ – Run-DMC