In more ways than one, Hip Hop falls under the influence of the Sun, Moon and Stars. And like those planets that rotate around our central Sun, the stars in Hip Hop go through seasons and cycles.
On Earth those seasons and cycles are divided into four units: Summer, Spring, Fall and Winter. For artists, that translates into Hot to Death, Lukewarm (so-so), Suspect and Cold as Ice!
In the span of Nasir Jones illustrious career, fans have argued hes passed through all of these phases, only to arrive back at the point of origin: as HOT as Gods Sun (360 degrees of rotation). On the dawn of the release of Nas seventh album, Gods Son, we invite you to take a journey into the world of one of Hip-Hops most illuminating stars.
PM: By listening to your music, one can tell that you draw from a number of musical influences. Who do you credit with shaping your sound?
Nas: Out of rappers or music in general?
PM: Music in general.
Nas: It would have to be my pops playing the jazz shit. Michael Jackson records, Rick James. Stevie, all the shit I grew up listening to, all up until the street shit. Lisa Lisa, Afrika Bambatta, Melle Mel, Jekyll and Hyde all up to Run and Rakim and G. Rap, to Kane and Slick and all them niggas.
PM: Now is that blend of musical influences responsible for your diverse outlook on life?
Nas: It was part of it.
PM: Throughout your vocal career, you have touched on numerous schools of thought, whether it be Islam, Five Percent or Christianity. Is that by coincidence or is it reflective of your full range of Knowledge and Understanding?
Nas: When I was about ten years old I got some lessons, so it right there just opened me up. I just been intrigued by the Five Percent Nation, Islam since I was a kid then I started to see the difference between what the Nation of Islam and Islam as a whole was, so I seen the difference. And I just choose my own way.
PM: Would you like to clarify what that way is?
Nas: To me, the Sun is God.
Nas: Yeah, Amen-Ra is a part of God. The whole universe, I’m into the whole galaxy now.
PM: Being that you’re a product of when Hip-Hop was set out in the park, do you feel battles should be toe-to-toe and eye-to-eye?
Nas: They can be. I grew up watching it like that. Right now, its a different game then back then. In a billion dollar industry where cats are superstars, a lot of dudes are superstars. A lot of dudes got money and armies and cant take disrespect, so it can lead to violence.
PM: So the game somewhat changed for the better or worse, as far as battles are concerned?
Nas: No doubt, because when the nigga Shaka Zulu was a young warrior, the nigga would do what he had to do to survive. When he became the King Shaka, he had soldiers to do what he did; it was out of his place to just go hand-to-hand combat. But he would if he had to, but it ain’t got to that point with me yet.
PM: As an artist labeled conscious do you feel that it pigeonholes you from exploring your duality as a man? [talking about things material as well as spiritual.]
Nas: With music to me, you gotta be creative; you know you cant think about it when you go into it as much as like saying you want to be labeled as something. You gotta really with me I have freedom to do what I want to do, write what I want to write and that’s the best freedom I have. It takes a while for you to get that, but once you learn what you’re doing and you master your craft and you get your core audience that’s fucking with you and if that core audience is respecting you through the years, watching you experiment, do all kinds of shit they ready for whatever you ready to do. They ready to take that journey with you and I think they can see the bravery in you when you just do the songs that you want to do as opposed to doing shit that gets played by the radio all day. Your fans respect you more, the creative people that’s thinking, they want to hear the more real shit.
PM: Do you feel music is a viable tool to lift the consciousness and vibration of a people?
Nas: Some of it is.
PM: When all else fails what spiritual/conscious foundation do you fall on?
Nas: First one that we all know is Christianity, whether we with it or not. In the back of your mind that’s whats embedded in your head, growing up here (America).
So that comes to your head, honestly the first thing you think of is Jesus Christ and God. But in reality, you come up with your ideas about life and God, but the foundation that’s been instilled in us since we were kids from our parents is Christianity, whether we like it or not. That’s the earliest thing about God that we learn unless you growing up where your parents is Muslims or something else and they teach you otherwise, but the majority of us are taught Christianity, so whether we like it or not that’s what we fall on in the back of our minds. We might not stay there when we fall there but that’s definitely a foundation.