I’m new to New York. I’ve lived here four months (as of today). As a “new” New Yorker, I find myself trying to do New York stuff. I go to old hip-hop spots, I say ‘dead ass, B.’ a lot, I have mastered the art of walking fast and riding the trains.
One of the things I find myself doing a lot lately is listening to New York Hip-Hop.
Now, I was always a Jay Z fan. I mean a die-hard, bet not nobody say nothin’ bad about Jay Z rabid superfan. I still am. In my mind, he is my Godfather and I use the lessons in his music and his life to inspire me every day. That’s one of the biggest gifts that Jay has ever given hip-hop, lyrics that can help you pull yourself up by the straps of your Timberland boots.
Nas is not in my Top 5. I’ll share that list with you later, but ya mans ain’t on it. I like his music, but there were so many other storytellers who moved me much more.
But, lately. As I walk the streets of New York, Apple Music constantly blaring in my ears. I have been listening to a lot of DJ Premier beats which always eventually leads back to Nas. I saw him in concert recently, and was moved by the fact that he came out to an instrumental version of “Lift Ev’ry Voice.” Nas’ music sounds incredible on the subway, his music IS the sound of the New York. And I am coming to appreciate him a lot more.
I have three other reasons that Nas is my new favorite rapper.
- He’s finer than ever. At 42, Nas has aged incredibly well. Always handsome, with his caramel skin and brooding eyes. His signature mole and smile made him a sex symbol in rap before it was popular to be. On his Instagram he looks happy which only adds to his beauty. While other rappers seem to be aging at a fast rate (with the help of drugs and alcohol), Nas looks healthy which makes him seem even more powerful.
- The Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship. When Harvard University chose to make a real investment in the archiving, education, and study of hip-hop music and culture, they turned to Nas. The architect of one of the most important albums in hip-hop, Illmatic, his place in this culture has been even further solidified and memorialized at the most elite institution in the United States. The Nasir Jones Hip Hop Fellowship is the most elite study opportunity in the culture. It is a personal goal of mine to be able to earn and complete the fellowship next year.
- He’s a business, man. For years, Jay Z was seen as the hip-hop business archetype (along with Diddy.) However, in the last 5 years. Nas has quietly been making amazing business moves. Queensbridge Venture Partners has investments in over 40 tech startups. Nas is the Executive Producer of a new film, The Land. He is also the Executive Producer of a new series on Netflix, The Get Down (and he wrote all the raps.) His entrepreneurial prowess is even larger than that. He has, as you would expect, quietly and humbly amassed wealth and prestige that has reinvigorated and reinvented his place in hip-hop.
What do you think? Is Nas your new favorite rapper again?