You’d be surprised to know that Grammy Award Winning Rapper and Hip Hop Legend Nas doesn’t listen to music past the ’80s. “I don’t listen to anything past 1980. I listen to old shit. So, not that I don’t listen to rap and all that – I do, I listen to everything. But I mostly listen to the oldie’s stuff. But all my friends play the music that I listen to, I don’t have nothing, they play it [the rap music],” the Grammy Award Winning Rapper said during his conversation at The Clive Davis Grammy Museum on Tuesday night.
As the demand for R&B music continues to grow with acts like H.E.R. leading the way and shattering glass ceilings, Nas, whose music career has spanned 20 plus years told the audience that he would love to collaborate with Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and Al Green on future projects.
The rapper, who took home the Grammy for Best Rap Album earlier this year for his 13th studio album “Kings Disease” said, “we were the cool guys with no Grammy’s – that’s gone now.” Fifteen years ago, Naz received his first Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance for “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That}.” After revealing that he doesn’t watch TV, Nas went on to explain how he found out that he won his first Grammy.
“My business partner, my boy Anthony Saleh called me and he says are you watching it and I said Oh Naw. I don’t watch tv, I don’t even watch stuff and he started laughing. I said “what’s happening now?” because I was excited about it and he was like, you’re up next … and I was talking on the phone with my brother, he was in New York and he said ‘you won’ and I was like Bro. he just said “I Won” and there was silence. Then it was like this is real and we won and it was wow. We Won!,” said Nas.
Nas also shared that he believed what his younger self would be most proud of about him is that his name is known the way MC Lite and Chuck D’s name is known. The rapper went on to explain that “If I couldn’t get in and make a name cool – you reach for the stars and land on the moon I’ll be alright where I land. I managed to get a name where a lot of people can say I know him.”
With over 6.5 million followers on Instagram, the Hip Hop legend continues to resonate with fans through his music. His impact has only grown since he first reached international audiences when his track “Halftime” became the opening cut on the “Zebrahead” movie soundtrack back in 1992. He would follow up 2 years later with his highly anticipated debut album “Illmatic” in 1992 under Columbia Records, which was RIAA certified platinum. This proved to be only the beginning of a 20 plus year career that includes top albums like “Nastradamus,” “Stillmatic,” “God’s Son,” and “Street’s Disciple.”
In 2012, Nas earned 4 Grammy nominations for his RIAA gold-certified album “Life is Good.” His song “Daughters” was nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, “Cherry Wine’ was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and the album “Life is Good” was nominated for Best Rap Album.
The rapper sat humbly beneath the spotlight on the stage of the Clive Davis Grammy Theatre in downtown Los Angeles as fans and aspiring artists asked for advice about succeeding in the music business and in life.
“This generation is, they have so much opportunity that I didn’t have coming into the music business. There weren’t that many attorneys, there weren’t that many record companies, there weren’t that many ways to get exposure. There weren’t those many channels to get yourself heard or to reach somebody. If Michael was alive his DM’s would be crazy.”
“Take your opportunity, don’t rush to sign anything put in front of your face. Think about it, timing is everything. Work on your craft and stay out of trouble because you have to be around. If you know you gotta go home, go home. If the homies are hanging out too late and doing a little too much but you feel like you could be home writing, go home. If you can advise some of your friends to not do this, that, or the other, tell them don’t do it. They might not listen to you but at least you tried.”
“If you’re home, work on your craft. Listen to music. If you’re a writer you’re gonna go through all different types of styles. You might start off writing like Drake then you might try to write like J Cole – just keep evolving. These people inspire you – you can take what they are doing but find their own voice. We all have one so just keep doing that and stay true to the craft,” said Nas.