Rap veteran Nas has shared his insight on the never-ending “Greatest Of All Time” debate and why it is still too early for artists to distinctively decide who should be considered rap’s G.O.A.T.
From Nas’ perspective, hip-hop is too young to have its renowned all-time great.
“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)
Last year, rap vet Rakim shared his thoughts on Jay-Z being a candidate for “G.O.A.T.” honors.
“I think it’s only right that these new names and some of these other cats is gon’ get mentioned in that circle,” Rakim explained in an interview. “What I did and that feeling that I gave the game when I was at that forefront was then. The same feeling that I gave to certain people is a feeling that Jay is giving to certain people today. I gotta understand that the era calls for a different time where different people get the spotlight. My thing is, I just hope that what I did do is strong enough to last a few more years to keep my name in that loop for a few more years.” (BET)
Artists like Mos Def have questioned Hov’s “Greatest Rapper Alive” title in the past and compared him to Rakim’s lyrical talent.
“My response was to me seeing an article where Jay-Z was referred to, with trade marks following it, as the ‘Greatest Rapper Alive,'” Mos explained in an interview over the summer. “Now that don’t have nothin’ to do with me, but if you saying that, that’s a trade claim…If you saying that, you saying you better than Slick Rick, whose still very alive and well? You saying you better than Rakim? You saying you better than Black Thought? People making that claim have never been in a position to defend that in an open forum. I’m not talking about making a diss record or trying to go in on somebody’s girl…When people start coming out and making claims they’re gonna have to defend, like, who have you had to defend them against? It’s certainly been with people not on your level.” (“The Angie Martinez Show”)
Check out Nas’ interview below: