Two decades after Illmatic, Nas sat down with Microphone Check for a conversation that moved from his love for Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s group, A Tribe Called Quest, to music journalism (“If you’re Sade, it doesn’t matter. She does what she does. But for all of us, journalism is a huge deal.”) hearing himself on the radio for the first time and his audience.
20 years ago today, arguably the Greatest Hip-Hop album of all-time was released. The near flawless production was handled by Nas himself, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., and DJ Premier. On this record, Nas uses different lyrical patterns and rhyme schemes to paint a picture of life through his own eyes while growing up in the borough of Queensbridge, New York.
ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: Do you think there’s enough of a connection for the youth or the younger ones that’s coming out now to really know where it all came from?
NAS: I think it’s there, but I think the young have their own young story to tell us. It’s such a story that — it’s new to them that — they’re just excited to tell their story that we need to hear. And then there’s a side where they just lazy. They don’t want to go — they don’t know that it’s beneficial for them to really know what they’re talking about and know what they’re doing. So some of this stuff may come out a little limited. Some of their creativities could be a little limited because of that.