Nas announced himself to the world in the grandest way possible; by dropping an all-time masterclass album that would change hip hop forever. When he released his seminal debut, Illmatic the entire genre changed for good. This record captured the hearts and minds of hip-hop-loving souls worldwide who had found an album that completely resonated from start to finish. However, the rapper is much more than simply a rapper.
When Yahoo sat down with the lyrical wizard in 2014, they weren’t concerned with asking the New York king about his bars or his favourite verses from other rappers. No, given one of the greatest rappers of all time, they decided to pry into the other love in his life: movies.
Films have always woven their way into the fabric of hip hop, and Nas is no different. Like many of us, he has a special place in his heart for certain films, and although every entry on the list may not be a classic, the titles are all special to him. Some are from his childhood; others inspired him to star in his own movies, others influenced him in his music, while some are just family favourites. Either way, looking at this list of Nas’ favourite films is extraordinary.
We all had to start somewhere with our movie obsessions, and Nas started like most us did, with a gift from our parents. “Popeye, [with] Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall,” the rapper confessed. “I saw it at the movies, and I loved it. I couldn’t believe how good the makeup was. I couldn’t believe they could have a real actor playing a cartoon character like Popeye. And Robin Williams pulled it off so well. My first VHS tape was a Christmas present from my mom, and it was Popeye.”
The movies that inspire him to become an actor in his own right are a little more expected: “Maybe Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Superman with Christopher Reeve. And Rocky with Sylvester Stallone. I wanted to do that.” However, there was one more film he’d rather leave in his past to save from embarrassment: “Grease [laughs]”.
The films that Nas has watched more than any other probably say the most about him as a person and artist: “Beat Street. The Warriors. The Wanderers. Rocky III. Halloween,” before confirming, “Halloween by John Carpenter, not that Rob Zombie crap.”
As well as noting Diana Ross’ Mahogany and The Godfather Part II is inspirations for his music, among a few others, Nas also spoke about hip hop’s love affair with Al Pacino’s classic Scarface. “It’s based on real events that happened – it’s not like a sci-fi movie or fantasy with other planets,” Nas confirmed. “It’s about real people, Castro, Miami, the drug problem in America, which a lot of hip hop artists grew up or are a product of. It’s simple. It’s a real story. You can relate to a guy who comes from nothing and makes more money than the average American makes, and gets drunk with power. And he’s the cause of his own demise. Those are the lessons. The streets are a survival test. So that movie goes hand-in-hand with street life. A lot of hip hop artists come from the streets.”
Below, you can find the full list of Nas’ favourite movies of all time.
Nas’ favourite films:
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
- Beat Street
- The Warriors
- The Wanderers
- Rocky III
- The Color Purple
- The Godfather Part II
- Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
- To Rome With Love
- Blue Jasmine
- Coming to America
- The Wiz
- Christmas Vacation