The Public Enemy song Nas called “a no brainer” for one of hip-hop’s greatest
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The Public Enemy song Nas called "a no brainer" for one of hip-hop's greatest

Nas is one of the legends of New York hip-hop. Born and raised in the legendary neighbourhood of Queensbridge, home of the Juice Crew and Mobb Deep, the Illmatic rapper is considered one of the best emcees of all time. The ‘N.Y. State Of Mind’ musician has a vast range of influences and has always been open about how he came into the game and who inspired him.

Lyrically the rapper (real name Nasir Jones) set a very high standard, and even the best rappers in New York were incomparable to him. While Bad Boy Entertainment brought a luxurious vibe and sex appeal with acts such as Lil Kim, Nas brought raw, unfiltered social commentary with a gritty and grimy sound that was leagues above his competition. With his feet firmly planted within the roots of the New York rap scene, Jones was inspired by his surroundings.

New York has produced many potent artists over the years. From contemporary artists such as Joey Bada$$ and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie to old-school pioneers such as KRS-One and Big L, the city has undoubtedly provided the culture with some legends. However, one of the most well-known golden age acts from New York City is Public Enemy.

Public Enemy were a product of the 1980s, the collective changed hip-hop in many ways and shifted the culture lyrically. When the six-piece ensemble arrived, they were different from their funkier predecessors. Akin to N.W.A. and many other groups that emerged in the mid-’80s, Public Enemy’s music from their inception was innately political and incendiary.

Born out of frustration and a disdain for governmental figures such as Ronald Reagan, Public Enemy mobilised African-Americans in a fashion that almost mirrored the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In an interview for the legendary hip-hop magazine Mass Appeal, Jones spoke about his influences, favourite MCs and most cherished tracks. Elaborating on the latter, Jones highlighted “Public Enemy, ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ of course no-brainer!” He then named ‘Sucker MCs’ by Run-DMC, ‘Eric B. Is President’ by Eric B. & Rakim,’ It Takes Two’ by Rob Base and E-Z Rock and ‘La Di da Di’ by Slick Rick.

You can watch the interview in the video below.