“We are talking about one of the greatest Hip Hop artists in American history,” declared Stephen A. Smith during his “Stephen A’s World” segment. The ESPN personality is known for his hot takes on sports, but now he is sharing his opinion on rap music.
Last week, Nas dropped his fourteenth studio LP King’s Disease II to near-universal critical acclaim. In celebration of the new project, Stephen A. Smith took time on the air to inform the world about his all-time favorite Nas records.
The First Take commentator’s Top 5 list of songs by the New York rap icon included tracks from the Illmatic, I Am…., and God’s Son albums. He named “N.Y. State of Mind” (#5), “Nas Is Like” (#4), “Made You Look” (#3), “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” (#2), and “Hate Me Now” (#1).
On his #1 pick, Stephen A. Smith, said, “That was one of my anthems, still is one of my anthems. Why? Because you know there’s gonna be haters out there. You know when you’re climbing and you’re ascending, there are people who want to take you down… songs like this motivate and inspire and emboldens you to accept every challenge that comes your way.”
“Hate Me Now” was released in 1999 and featured Bad Boy Entertainment founder Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. The collaboration became a Top 10 hit on Billboard‘s Hot Rap Songs chart and is widely considered a classic single of the era.
The Hype Williams-directed “Hate Me Now” music video depicted Nas being crucified like Jesus Christ. A scene showing Puff Daddy on a cross was supposed to be edited out the final cut, but the image somehow made it into the version that played on MTV. This led to a violent confrontation between Puffy and Nas’s then-manager Steve Stoute.
Sean “Diddy” Combs and Nas went on to work together on other tracks like “Everything I Love” and “Not for Radio.” As far as King’s Disease II, Nas recruited Eminem, EPMD, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, YG, Lauryn Hill, Charlie Wilson, Blxst, and Hit-Boy as guest features.