Nas: Hip-Hop’s Eulogy Part Two

AllHipHop.com: In 2002 you told AllHipHop “I want to build bigger alliances throughout Hip-Hop. It’s time for unity among the whole Hip-Hop world.” Sounds like aligning with Def Jam was always in the cards.

Nas: Absolutely. This is New York. This is the house that Russell Simmons built. This is a house where you got Jay-Z as a president. You got LA Reid as a chairman. It’s the black oasis. You can’t have that without Nas. The timing, the stars are aligned, everything will be right.

AllHipHop.com: Earlier this year, there were artists on Def Jam expressing dissatisfaction with how their projects were handled, at any moment did you get nervous with regards to your situation?

Nas: If you look at the history of Def Jam or any record company there’s been ups and down. I think there’s been more focus on the downs now [because] it is a black oasis right here, where there are rappers running the show. Where, if it was a lot of non-rappers running the show, you wouldn’t hear about the situations as much. I think it’s a time in the business where everything’s changed. A lot of us are caught in a business where there’s only been one or two platinum rap albums this whole year, so far, so we’re all going through something. Not just rappers, the whole music industry is going through a complete change with [low] record sales and downloading.

I don’t know these artists’ personal situations. I know with mine, I was supposed to drop my record in September or I lead with a single to give this record company enough time to get behind my record. So I can’t blame anybody for my record coming out the end of the year but me. It’s just how I move. There’s no, “Oh, put it out now.” It was like, “Yo what’s up with September?” I’m like, “Nah, it ain’t ready.” Then I wanted Halloween with a Thriller kind of video for “Hip Hop is Dead”, then I didn’t want to do “Hip Hop is Dead” so I missed Halloween. Then I decided November 7th, I didn’t want to do that either. I kept wanting to change the theme of my album because of the title. So I knew when Jay was coming, our plan was to come at least a month apart. So this is why my joint is coming December 19th. As for other artists up here, I don’t know their situations, how their records are done, or how they maneuver, or anything like that. This is my first release on Def Jam, so we’ll see how it goes.

AllHipHop.com: A lot of artists in your category are starting to go the indie route, is that something your considering?

Nas: I think we have no choice but to do that. You don’t always want the pressures of a major distributor behind you. You want to be able to see what it feels like to do it on your own. I think every artist in the game would want to feel like what it feels like to do it independently, at least once if anything.

AllHipHop.com: Carmen’s book is kind of explicit, what did you think of it?

Nas: I mean she told me a while ago what she was doing. So a while ago I was like, “Ya know what this means? Ya know what you saying? You got a kid, ya know.” I can’t honestly remember all her answers. Her answers were just all about, “This is what I’m doing, and this is why I’m doing it.” I don’t know what it is; I don’t want to read it. Some people read it and tell me certain things about it, but it doesn’t really surprise me. In this game, ya moms can come out and write a rhyme about you. It is what it is, what can you do? People are going to write books. I hope it’s a best seller. I hope she can buy twelve Bentleys off of it. Get out of my pockets and do her thing. I don’t respect when people jump out of their shirt; lose their shirt to cause controversy and stuff like that. That’s a different world. I’m staying out of it.

AllHipHop.com: What kind of damage control are you taking being that your daughter might know what’s going on?

Nas: We don’t even have to. Her world is sheltered from it thank God. Her mom says she can’t read her book until she becomes an adult. She’s not allowed to look at any of the stuff. She listens to Z100 by choice, not by force. Actually, she told me if I wanted kids to hear my records, they gotta be played on Z100. I said I don’t even think I want urban kids up on my s**t that much anymore, let alone Z100. My records, I put them out there and wherever they go, they go. If alternative radio says, “Nas we want to rock ‘Hip Hop is Dead’ ‘cause of the sample or cause of the Rock vibe and what the song said,” then yeah, let’s do it. If HOT97 want’s to go, “Yeah, let’s go.” Other than that, I exist in the middle. I’m between the keys in the piano. I’m not competing with Puffy’s single, I’m not competing with Jay-Z’s single or 50; I’m not doing what they do on this album. My daughter is cool. She’s not caught up, she doesn’t even know half of the s**t that’s going on. She’s still confused about me and Tupac, that’s honestly her favorite rapper. All this other stuff to her is make believe.

AllHipHop.com: Have you ever considered putting your life and times in a biography?

Nas: Yeah, definitely, because I read autobiographies a lot. I got Gordon Parks’ book and his story is insane. It’s some ill s**t, all the s**t he filmed and all the s**t he brought to the light in America. I definitely would. I like Cool J’s book, I like Miles Davis’ book, Richard Pryor’s book, I love Ava Gardner, all these people. It’s good to see the behind the scenes, so I definitely thought about it.

AllHipHop.com: Are “The N” and “Blood Diamonds” going to be on the album?

Nas: “Blood Diamonds” is for the Blood Diamond movie, it’s called “Shine”. “The N”, we leaked, and we’re sequencing the record this week so I don’t know right now if that’s on the album or not. We put it out there. Like this record company and I, we are totally different. The way they do things, the way I do things are totally different. They’re getting to know me and getting to see how I do things is not so calculated, it’s not as Hollywood. I go off of feelings. If I feel it, “Yeah.” If I don’t feel it, “Nah.” I’ll have my cousin do my photo shoot. I’ll direct my video on this one if I don’t get none of these guys. I don’t do as much promotion and marketing as their artists do. I never had to. I trust the people more than I trust millions and millions on marketing. Sometimes I need it. But most of the times, I don’t, which is a great [position] for me to be in, other than other artists. You have a Lloyd Banks bragging about record sales last year, but then don’t sell records this year, it just shows you, you shouldn’t base your s**t off of what your last album did. This is a funny business. Fans, they turn, so you just gotta do what you like to do and try to grow.

AllHipHop.com: Is Columbia involved at all?

Nas: As much as I would let them be. The fact of the matter is I made this happen because of the unity side of it. The paper side of it, what I could make happen. Other than that, it’s a Def Jam movement. But I still got catalog with Sony. This new album was supposed to be on Sony, but I fixed it so it would be both labels facilitating this movement right here. But it’s really all about Def Jam.

Related Stories