Hip-Hop veteran Nas has named his favorite ten rap lyricists, including the late Notorious B.I.G. and Lil Kim, and what song best illustrates their emcee skills.
Featured in Rolling Stone, Nas breaks down who makes his Top 10 list.
1. “My Downfall” – Notorious B.I.G., 1997 -The lyrics are about how he’s acing the shadows of death, despite all of his success, and he’s giving it to you in a way that makes it seem so real. 2. “If My Homie Calls” – 2Pac, 1991 -He’s just saying to his boys that he’s going to be a friend no matter how big he gets. 3. “Road To The Riches” – Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo, 1989 -The way we’re rhyming now? He was already doing it then. 4. “A Bird In The Hand” – Ice Cube, 1991 5. “Paid In Full” – Eric B. & Rakim, 1987 (Prefix Mag)
Nas also threw Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Slick Rick in the mix.
6. “I’m Single” – Lil Wayne, 2010 -I’m recently divorced, so I feel what he’s saying. 7. “Tears of Joy” – Rick Ross, 2010 -Ross is at the pulpit here. 8. “The Moment I Feared” – Slick Rick, 1988 -It’s cinematic. He’s at a hip-hop show and ices this girl who played him, then he’s in prison getting violated by some dude. This was unheard of. 9. “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z, 2009 -This song is huge. It sounds like Broadway. It’s New York’s modern anthem. 10. “Queen B*tch” – Lil’ Kim, 1996 -At the time, females rappers didn’t appeal to the street, but Kim came with the vulgarity, sexuality and gangster sh*t. (Prefix Mag)
Despite his list, Nas recently said there is no such thing as a “Greatest Of All Time” rapper.
“Somebody asked me who’s the greatest emcee of all-time,” Nas said in an interview. “It’s too premature. It doesn’t make any sense. Like, when you ask most singers who do they like, who they are inspired by, they might not say Usher, they might not say Trey Songz, they might not say Justin Timberlake. They might say Marvin Gaye, Steve Wonder because they had an opportunity to look at these guys’ whole body of work and greatest of all-time. And even if I may say LL Cool J as the greatest of all-time, no doubt he’s the greatest, at his moment, but when you put that title on yourself it’s almost like burying yourself. No diss to Cool J, he’s the king, I’m just saying when you put that title on yourself, you’re saying it’s over. So, it’s kind of early to tell. Our kids will have to say who was the greatest. Right now, you can say who’s hot this year. Definitely. There are some greatest of this year but who’s the greatest? Hip-Hop has never lived this long. This is the longest its ever lived. It’s too early for me to even think of legacy. It’s probably at its premature stages, still….” (Next 48 Hours)
Last May, Nas explained why the the “G.O.A.T.” title should be reserved.
“There is no best or greatest MC. Should never happen, doesn’t make sense,” he said in a blog post. “It makes sense temporarily when you’re striving to be number one. It makes sense for [the fans] to see that, but you have a long run to be the greatest. To me, people already felt like they were [the greatest] in more ways than they should have and I think that hurt them. There is no greatest of all time. We won’t know that until we’re 60 years old. I think there will be like four to five great ones at the end of the day, but there will be none that’s greater than the other. Impossible…[Jay-Z] is the one that smacks everybody in the face that’s out there and wanted to say what he wasn’t and what he couldn’t do. The challenge is that people always count you out and even when you have a hit record and put out a hit album, you’re gonna have people dissing you. I think he’s showing you: I won’t be stopped ever. And that’s motivation for everyone else.” (VIBE)
Check out some recent Nas footage below: