NAS LIFE BIOGRAPHY:
Nasir Jones, or to give his his full birth name, Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones, is more commonly referred to as 'Nas'. He was born on September 14, 1973 in Long Island City, and raised by his father, jazz musician Olu Dara, and his late mother Ann Jones. Nas came of age in the notoriously rough Queensbridge Projects, also hone to legends such as Marley Marl and The Juice Crew. With lyrics and beats virually built into the QB's concrete walls, Nas had soaked up his talents from such influences before he was old enough to put pen to paper. So it was only a matter of time before this young boy would ettempt to wow the crowds on his own!
Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets. Despite dropping out of school, Nas developed a high degree of literacy that would later characterize his rhymes. At the same time, though, he delved into street culture and flirted with danger, such experiences similarly characterizing his rhymes.
His synthesis of well-crafted rhetoric and street-glamorous imagery blossomed in 1991 when he connected with Main Source and laid down a fiery verse on "Live at the Barbeque" that earned him instant respect among the East Coast rap scene. Not long afterward, MC Serch of 3rd Bass approached Nas about contributing a track to the Zebrahead soundtrack. Serch was the soundtrack's executive producer and, like much of New York, had been impressed by "Live at the Barbeque." Nas submitted "Halftime," and the song so stunned Serch that he made it the soundtrack's leadoff track.
The music industry started to pay attention to what the underground scene already knew, and Nas was quickly signed up to Columbia Records on a major-label contract, and many of New York's finest producers offered their support. DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, and Pete Rock (NY's top producers in the early '90s) entered the studio with the young rapper and began work on his first solo effort, 'Illmatic'. When Columbia finally released the album in April 1994, it faced high expectations; Illmatic regardless proved just as astounding as it had been billed. It sold very well, spawned multiple hits, and earned unanimous acclaim. Nas was been anointed as rap's savior. With cuts form the album including "N.Y. State Of Mind", and "It Aint Hard To Tell", providing the gritty but thoughtful soundtrack to the life on NY's mean streets. 'Illmatic' became on instant classic.
Nas handled nearly every rhyme and never seemed short on lyrics. Years later, Illmatic is still seen as featuring some of the best lyrics hip-hop ever produced. To call Nas a street poet wasn't an overstatement, but rather a matter of fact. Even if the album didn't storm up the Billboard charts, it garnered the respect of every hip-hop devotee in New York and that was quite an accomplishment, particularly for someone just having reached his twenties. Following up Illmatic wouldn't be an easy task and rather than try and top that album, Nas expanded his approach for his next release.
Nas was also gaining attention from Hip Hop's biggest artists at that time, most notalby, Tupac Shakur, aka 2pac, but for all the wrong reasons. Tupac believed Nas was rapping about his life and not his own, form what he'd read or seen on the media, and that Nas was profiting of Tupac's life, which labelled Nas a fake. Tupac also lyrically denounched Nas on various tracks. But, Nas carried on and the two years leading up to Nas' follow-up, "It Was Written" (released in 1996), brought another wave of enormous anticipation. The ambitious rapper, who had begun working closely with industry heavyweight Steve Stoute, and also Dre Dre, responded with a significantly different approach than he had taken with "Illmatic": where that album had been a straightforward hip-hop album with few pop concessions, the largely Trackmaster-produced "It Was Written" made numerous concessions to the pop crossover market, most notably on the two hit singles, "Street Dreams" and "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)." These singles -- both of which drew from well-known songs, Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and Kurtis Blow's "If I Ruled the World," respectively -- broadened Nas' appeal greatly and awarded him the MTV-sanctioned crossover success he sought.
Around this point in the late '90s, Nas nonetheless reigned atop the rap scene alongside few contemporaries in the wake of the assassinations of Tupac Shakur, and Notorious B.I.G. currently the undisputed kings of Hip Hop. Nas the took anopther huge step, this time into acting, popularly co-starring in the Hype Williams-directed film "Belly" (1998) alongside fellow rapper DMX and contributed to the soundtrack.
1999 saw Nas hit another high point of his career with the one-two punch of the "I Am" and "Nastradamus" albums, both both of which topped the charts and broadened his appeal, due to a crossover to 'pop-rap' of an even further extent than the previous album "It Was Written". During this time in his career Nas was also leading the short-lived rap group, 'The Firm', comprised of fellow New Yorkers, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature. The group looked invinsible on paper with producers Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters), and assembled a broad coalition of fellow Queensbridge rappers for the QB Finest compilation (2000). Surprisingly, the much-heralded album flopped. Listening to the album, it's fairly apparent why. Not only is it an incredibly conceited and brash album, it's also horribly calculated.
Amid all of this publicity, though, criticism began to mount. For every crossover fan Nas won with his dramatic MTV-aired videos, he lost support in the streets, where many initial supporters felt he had sold out and abandoned hip-hop ideals in favor of commercial success. Nas' sales reflected this fading support, as each subsequent album sold less than its predecessor despite the consistent hitmaking.
A series of incidents in 2001 provided a key turning point for Nas' declining career. The rapper's personal life became increasingly conflicted, as his mother began suffering from cancer and his woman betrayed him. To make matters worse, longtime rival Jay-Z pointedly dissed and called out Nas on "Takeover," the much-discussed leadoff song from his universally acclaimed Blueprint album (2001). Jay-Z called out Nas for not having put out a "hot" album since Illmatic, among other reasons, and also made demeaning comments about Nas' woman. And it didn't help that Jay-Z had indeed rose atop the New York rap scene, giving him ample justification to call out Nas, who had fallen from favor and receded from the public eye while he dealt with his personal issues. Nas fired back at Jay-Z's diss via mixtapes, radio, and also the now legendary diss track "Ether".
"Ether", the song which was unofficially the first single off Nas' "Stillmatic" album released in Dec 2001, was a hard hitting and very direct diss at Jay-Z, (featuring the chants "fuck Jay-Z" and "I will not lose", among others). "Ether" was then followed by perhaps Nas' most aggressive single ever, "Get Ur Self A...." These two songs in particular rallied the streets while the moving video for the single "One Mic", received heavy support from MTV. So Nas had concured the streets again, as well as the 'commercialized Hip Hop' fans of MTV. Throughout 2002, Nas continued his comeback with a number of guest appearances, among them Brandy's "What About Us?," J-Lo's "I'm Gonna Be Alright," and Ja Rule's "The Pledge," as well as yet more headline-worthy controversy, this time involving his no-show at popular radio station Hot 97's annual Summer Jam.
Amid all of the drama, Nas managed to salvage his esteemed reputation and reclaim his lofty status atop the New York scene. Stillmatic earned immediate wide acclaim from fans and critics alike and sold impressively, while Columbia furthered the comeback fervor with two archival releases, one of remixes (From Illmatic to Stillmatic ), the other of outtakes (The Lost Tapes ). Then at the end of the year Columbia released a new studio album, "God's Son", and Nas once again basked in widespread acclaim as the album sold well, spawned sizable hits ("Thugz Mansion," "Made You Look," "I Can"), and received rampant media support. "Gods Son" was also rated a '4 mic' album by "The Source" magazine, critics went as far enough to say that it picked up where Illmatic left off. God's Son shows the painful side of Nas through song's like, "Dance" and "Heaven", dedicated to his deceased mother, Ann Jones. He takes it further to the streets with "Made You Look" the album's lead single, produced by Salaam Remi. Agressive and new yet with an old school vibe it makes the perfect lead single. He also has something for the kids! Instead of having a gangsta or playa cliche type song for the second single, the much inspiring, "I Can", teaches kids, adolcents, and adults lessons on how to live a succesful life.
Two years later Nas returned with Street's Disciple (2004), a sprawling double album that delved deeply into various issues, most notably politics and his impending marriage to Kelis Rogers. The two-sided "Thief's Theme"/"You Know My Style" single dropped in summer 2004, several months before the album's release, and was followed that fall by the proper lead single, "Bridging the Gap" featuribg his father Olu Dara.
Since this release Nas has again been dissed by another 'top' artist, this time in the form of the disrespected 50 Cent, of Shady/Aftermath Records roster. At a free concert in Central Park, New York, Nas made a statement regarding the quality of 50 Cent's music. "this is the real shit, not that 50 Cent shit!" So, 50 Cent responded to that taunt in track 'Piggy Bank' by speaking negatively of Nas' wife Kelis, implying that Kelis was promiscuous and calling Nas a "sucker for love." Nas was quoted as saying that he feels no obligation to retaliate, remarking "[50 has] got a good five to six more albums before I can really respond to him." Nas eventually decided to retaliate, and in July 2005 released "Don't Body Ya Self (MC Burial)", a song which taunts 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew, stating that 50 was "a sucka for death if I'm a sucka for love." However, despite all of this, Nas still claims to "have a lot of love towards 50," claiming 50 didn't understand his moves when they both were together at Columbia Records.
In January 2006, Nas signed a label deal with Def Jam, further emphasizing the Jay-Z/Nas truce, and raising expectations for a collaboration even higher. After some time, Nas and Def Jam agreed on an official title, Hip Hop Is Dead...The N, which was shortened to Hip Hop Is Dead, though the UK release features a bonus track at the end called "The N." The album featured production from will.i.am, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Scott Storch, as well as longtime Nas collaborators L.E.S. and Salaam Remi. A street single named "Where Y'all At" was released in June of 2006. It was produced by Salaam Remi, and contained a sample from Nas' "Made You Look," but it did not make Hip Hop Is Dead's final cut.
The 'Hip Hop Is Dead' album was released on Def Jam and Nas' new imprint, The Jones Experience, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 355,000 copies. This made the album Nas's 3rd number one album, along with 1996's 'It Was Written' and 1999's 'I Am...'. A music video for "Can't Forget About You" has been made the world premiere came out on February 5, 2007, while "Hustlers" and "Black Republican" are being considered for future video shootings. "Can't Forget About You" featuring Chrisette Michele boasts a sample from Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."
The title has had a major impact in the hip hop world, especially for Southern hip hop, whose artists have been blamed for cheapening the quality of hip-hop with crunk and snap music. Southern rapper Young Jeezy had made statements against the title of Nas' album, and also furthered his comments by questioning Nas' street credibility. They have since reconciled. Many other Southern rappers such as Ludacris, Trick Daddy, Lil Wayne and Big Boi have also attacked Nas' album title claiming that it is targeted at Southern hip hop. Nas also has a fair share of supporters such as New York rapper KRS-One and Ghostface Killah, another rapper who blames hip hop's death on Snap music.
Nas also worked on a song called "Shine On 'Em" for the film 'Blood Diamond' starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, which opened in US theatres on December 8, 2006. Also his song "Thief's Theme" was featured in one of the scenes in the Academy Award-winning movie 'The Departed' directed by Martin Scorsese.
Nas has recently mentioned a new album in the works this year. According to an MTV interview he is quoted of saying,"New album is in the making right now," outside the set of his new video for "Can't Forget About You."
Nas also is making a shoe called The Disciples with 310 Motoring, the same shoe maker that made the Hurricanes (which are The Game's shoes.) Nas, upon signing with Def Jam, will be releasing a further 3 albums under the label as part of his contract.
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