Nas On Writing Disses, Squeezing Asses, and the Future of Rap

We got to chat with the infamous rapper after his performance at Lollapalooza in São Paulo, Brazil.

We got to chat with the infamous rapper after his performance at Lollapalooza in São Paulo, Brazil.

As the Hennessy spokesperson, do you usually drink before your shows or after? 

Every time before a show I have something. I have to have some drink, something. I need a shot, at least.

How does a real man drink Hennessy? In a cocktail or straight?

I drink it straight. I’m drinking it straight right now. 

Speaking of drinking it straight, what was the most fun you had in the last year?

Was it my birthday? Was it New Year’s? One of the holidays. It was either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s. I had a lot of fun. I have a lot of friends and family, and those are the moments that I get to enjoy myself—like really shut everything else down and have a good time. 

Photo Courtesy of Kirill Was Here

What does it mean to be a rapper in 2013 versus 1991?

Wow. Well in 1991 I was really having the experience getting in this huge rap world, dipping my toe in the ocean. I wasn’t a scuba diver at that point, you know what I’m saying? But that feeling was surreal. That was a surreal moment. It was magical, I was living in a dream in ’91. It was amazing and I just saw all this potential. It was like canvas and I had magic paint. And magic paint brushes. And I could paint whatever I wanted. That’s a feeling you can only get at the beginning stages. There’s a part of that that I still have in me now, but in 2013, it’s more of “a been there, done that/what’s the next new, big yet-to-be-done thing?” I’m excited about finding what’s in me in 2013.

Do you think the popularity of rap and hip-hop now versus then is a good thing or a bad thing?

It’s good and bad. It’s good because it’s global now. It means more audience, more work, more money, more everything. But now it’s lost its sacredness.

What influence do you think social media and the Internet has had on rap and music in general?

At a point, I looked at the Internet as the devil. But new things always scare people, and it’s just evolvement. It’s here and you have to be involved with it, there’s no way around it. You can use it for good, so I’ll just be positive about the Internet. 

Photo Courtesy of Kirill Was Here

In your Stephen Colbert interview last year, you said you want to be the Mick Jagger of rap and just keep on going as you age. So what do you think you’ll continue rapping about in your old age?

I can’t tell you that now because it’s too soon. I have no idea, and that’s the exciting part: you don’t know. It hasn’t been done yet in hip-hop by anyone. There’s no one around who’s relevant. It’s new territory for hip-hop artists, so we’ll see.

You’re regarded as one of the greatest rap artists of all times, and CNN even said you are the greatest lyricist of all time, but you have never won a Grammy. Do you even pay attention to that anymore? 

The Grammys is one of my favorite fashion shows, and I love to see other artists and what they’re wearing. Rockers wear wild stuff, country singers wear their stuff. That’s their style that represents Memphis and stuff and the rappers come in there now looking really crazy and some of them look really dapper. I love that part of it. I love to see music recognized. Whether I win or lose, I love that there’s a celebration of music. Whether it be good or bad, or whatever you want to say about it. It’s a fun time.

Can you give me some tips on writing a really good diss?

Here are three tips. 1. Always know that you’re the better person and approach it that way. Have the right attitude. 2. Do your research on the person you’re dissing. 3. Keep it fun.

Photo Courtesy of Kirill Was Here

Who is the future of hip-hop?

Everyone’s talking about Kendrick Lamar, he has it right now. Drake is a current star now, but I think he’s the future also. I like Iggy Azaela, Azealia Banks, and another new rapper I like, I forgot her name.

What do you want to to do in São Paulo before you leave?

I’d like to go around squeezing asses in Brazil. In my mind I would like to do that, but I’m not going to. It’s all about the nightlife here since there aren’t any beaches. Since people here don’t recognize me, I’ll take in the atmosphere and get informed about the city. There’s so much potential and business here, but at the same time, there’s a ton of poverty. 

Photos by Kirill Was Here