iHeartRadio LIVE and Verizon sent the PlayStation Theater in Times Square on a journey to Queensbridge Park to honor a legend, Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones. This is one of many shows coming from the Verizon concert series taking place in NYC through Fall, so be on the lookout for free tickets. Their partners include iHeart, Spotify, and Pandora so you know it is going to be good.
With nearly three decades under his belt, Nas’ latest LP, Nasir dropped after a time that proved to be both turbulent and triumphant for the hip-hop mainstay. While headlines of a child custody battle and alleged physical abuse towards his ex-wife Kelis swarmed the internet, the emcee reemerged with a 7-track Kanye-West produced offering. Withal, his fan’s allegiance endured, as a Big Apple assemblage stretched for blocks in anticipation of the Nasir listening (July 26).
To the scratches and spins of DJ Whutever, the voice of New York, Angie Martinez, strolled out sporting a track jacket, and Gucci kicks causing hysteria below center stage. And in his likeness, Martinez’s cultural impact ranks beside her reference to Nas — among the “illest of all-time in the game.” DJ Green Lantern was suddenly spotlighted behind turntables while The-Dream-assisted earworm, “Adam and Eve” thronged through the venue. Donning a Michael Jordan Space Jam throwback Tune Squad jersey, Nas ran on the scene. His lyricism finessed concert-goers with ease.
The Diddy-featured Nasir album introduction, “Not For Radio” brought the crowd his “Escobar season begins” reminder and undeniable swagger. But, with the ’94 Illmatic verses of “The World Is Yours” and “N.Y. State of Mind,” it was clear what #iHeartNas cherished most, the classics. Nas’ loyalist seamlessly followed up reciting his It Was Written gems, “The Message,” and “Street Dreams.” Still, the iconic vocals of Ms. Lauryn Hill on, “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),” jolted his showmanship — before a Frank Sinatra sample looped into the song “Bonjour.”
In an effort to catapult the evening, the musical mélange of “Hate Me Now,” “Cops Shot the Kid,” “Got Ur Self A…,” and “Made You Look,” further substantiated how the rapper’s lyrical content has habitually reflected the political climate and experience from which he was birthed. Beyond braggadocious bars of wealth, the 44-year-old luminary’s staying power is credited to his intelligent wordplay, not gimmicks. Making “One Mic,” the appropriate expression which transitioned into his intimate interview with Martinez on behalf of Verizon and iHeartRadio.
These are a few takeaways from their live sit-down.
Nas on the most significant difference between his mindset during Illmatic versus Nasir…
“It’s like a blur, but it is a good feeling at the same time. That is why I play Frank Sinatra [during my set]. Some of the kids probably don’t know it. It is what I listen to. My subject [matter] has changed. I am not where I was then, [now]. So, elevation.”
Nas on his protégé Dave East…
“I shouted him out [on the Angie Martinez show] which could’ve started a whole frenzy of people trying to sign him. I did not think about that. [Laughs] But, he is a solid dude. I am glad we’re business partners.”
Nas on collaborating with Kanye West for Nasir…
“Man, he is one of the greatest. I want to work with the greatest producers in hip-hop. I had the opportunity to work with everybody from DJ Premier to Dr. Dre. We just have a mutual respect. I wanted to have an album by him. [I am] the only one that is not on his label to have an album produced by him. Creatively, on a music side, we can do whatever we want. That like a once-in-lifetime kind of thing. For years, we have been talking about doing this [LP].”
Nas on the entrepreneurial motivations behind his entertainment company, Mass Appeal, corporate investments and the bi-coastal restaurant chain Sweet Chick…
“Yeah! Y’all know Sweet Chick? I made more than one hundred investments. Our thing is to invest in people versus ideas. A smart person can turn a bad idea into a business, but the opposite can turn a good idea into a disaster. So, that is kind of the philosophy we roll with. Queensbridge Venture Partners was perfect.
I’ve done music for so long… I’ve been on a record company for forever, so, it is time I am on my own label, Mass Appeal Records. This is what it is all about, ownership. [As a businessman I am most proud of] meeting people that want to change the world. When I meet somebody, and I can see that the energy is like, they believe, and they’re confident in what they want — [it’s motivating].
[These collaborative creatives] have a vision for what they want that’s outside of the box, that is not what everybody else is thinking — I like people like that. They inspire me. I want to talk to that person. I want to spend time and learn… building businesses up. I like watching that.
God is good. ‘Cause it was a trying [time]. It was crazy. I don’t know how I made it sometimes. I remember [thinking], “How did I not hit that wall?” Someone was there.”
Nas on his children…
“She don’t have no time for me. [My daughter] is a businesswoman. She has a cosmetic line called Lipmatic. My son, he just turned nine [years old]. So, he wants to build tents and go camping, fishing, and dig up dinosaur bones. [Laughs] He’s a cool cat.”
Nas on his forthcoming album…
“Yes, there is another album that I had already been working on before [Nasir with] Kanye. Since I did this, I have to do something [sonically] that goes in another direction. I am finishing up the next one. It’s not going to be that long [of a wait until it’s release] because half of it was already there.”
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