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 and influenced by figures from his city, especially from Queens.
Queens has produced many potent artists over the years. From contemporary artists such as Nicki Minaj and 50 Cent to old-school pioneers such as LL Cool J and Kool G Rap, the borough has undoubtedly provided the culture with some legends. However, one of the most well-known acts from the New York city borough is Run-DMC and Jones has always had a deep respect for the trio and the music they created.
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 “‘Rebel Without a Pause’ by Public Enemy.” After a short ponder, he then decided he also loved “Eric B. and Rakim, ‘Eric B. for President.’” Very sure of his affinity for the 1980s, the rapper happily picked out his third choice, ‘It Takes Two’ by Rob Base and E-Z Rock. Rest in Peace E-Z Rock.”
After praising Slick Rick, the It Was Written artist named the one song that was of utmost importance to him growing up, as he deliberated, “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.” The Queens rapper even went as far to say “That’s one of the most important records. Ever. Ever. Ever.” From his Mass Appeal interview it’s evident that Nas has a lot of love for 1980s New York hip-hop but particularly loves his Queens counterparts Run-DMC. You can listen to ‘Sucker MCs’ in the video below.