Nas is one of the greatest emcees to ever pick up a mic. With a career that spans over two decades, the Queensbridge rapper has continued to bring us classic track after classic track. Do you think you know all there is to know about Nas? Here are 15 facts you may (or may not) know.
1) Nas’ full name is Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. He’s named after his father, Olu Dara Jones. Olu Dara Jones is a jazz musician, born Charles Jones III. Jones was given the name Olu Dara by a Yoruba priest after traveling to Nigeria. Olu Dara means “God is good” in Yoruba. Some believe Nas’ God’s Son and Life is Good albums could be a play on his name.
2) Nas has a few acting credits to his name, including Belly and Black Nativity, but it’s a little-known fact that he turned down the lead role in Save the Last Dance.
3) Before being Nasty Nas, Esco or Escobar, Nas went by the rap moniker ‘Kid Wave’.
4) Nas serves as the narrator on Netflix’s hip hop drama The Get Down and voices adult Ezekiel Figuero, who becomes a successful rap star in 1996. Nas also wrote the rhymes for the show’s fictional rap group.
“Working with film is like has been one of the things I always wanted to do since I don’t know when,” Nas told Rolling Stone last year. “Maybe even before rap…. I don’t know if I’m an expert, but I’m just a super fan of the old school and the golden era, and so it just felt like I couldn’t have asked for a better project to be involved with.”
5) Nas was born in Brooklyn. Crown Heights to be exact. He moved to the Queensbridge Houses as a young child and that’s where he met his best friend and DJ, the late Will “Ill Will” Graham.
6) Nas listed his daughter Destiny as executive producer on his 2001 Stillmatic album. Destiny now runs her own cosmetics line, Lipmatic.
7) On the cover of Life is Good, Nas is wearing the suit he married Kelis in. He’s also holding Kelis’ actual green wedding dress. The two share a son, Knight Jones, who was born in July 2009.
8) Nas has a venture capital firm called QueensBridge Venture Partners that invests in technology companies. Some of the businesses he’s invested in are Lyft, Fan Duel, Tradesy, and Genius.
9) Nas recorded N.Y. State of Mind in one take. He wrote the original 60-bar verse in the studio the same day.
“If you listen to ‘N.Y. State of Mind’” DJ Premier told Complex. “You’ll hear him going, ‘I don’t know how to start this shit,’ because he literally just wrote it. Before he started the verse, I was signaling him going, ‘One, two, three,’ and he just goes in.”
10) Nas recorded the original version of Ether over a Swizz Beatz beat. Word has it, 50 Cent inspired the diss track and was present while part of it was recorded.
11) 50 Cent was originally part of the Firm, as well as Mary J. Blige. “Nas always wanted to get his crew together, so he had been calling it The Firm for a minute,” Tone of the Trackmasters says. “We had been trying different members out. We actually had 50 Cent in it for a little while. It just didn’t work out. We actually made a record too.”
12) Nas shares a birthday with Amy Winehouse. Her song Me & Mr. Jones is about Nas. Nas also has a track dedicated to Tammy titled Cherry Wine.
13) Russell Simmons passed on signing Nas to Def Jam in the 90’s saying the QB rapper sounded like Kool G Rap and he feared Nas’ debut album, Illmatic couldn’t hack it commercially.
14) Nas used to record his demos during Eric B and Rakim’s Let The Rhythm Hit Em studio sessions in 1990. Eric B says that Nas inadvertently inspired he and Rakim to go harder.
“I just remember we had did Paid in Full. We were working and I remember hearing Nas and Nas coming to the studio,” Eric B tells REVOLT. “Me and Rakim were listening to Nas and guys like that. We were fooling around, not finishing the records, not showing up to the studio. I remember Nas coming out and being so strong. Me and Rakim said you know what, we gonna get back on our bike and back on our game and I think Nas is one of the guys that pushed Eric B. And Rakim over the top to be great.”
15) Nas sold his first painting at Art Basel in 2011 for $14,000. He painted the piece of art while performing “Made You Look” at Spotify’s “Music Loves Art” party at Ricochet Lounge in Miami. Nas donated the proceeds to charity.
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