A Biography of the Rapper Nas

Nas live

Born: Nasir Jones

Birthday: September 14, 1973

Hometown: Queensbridge, New York

Interesting Facts About Nas

  • Nas first rap name was Kid Wave. He later dropped it and picked up the moniker Nasty Nas.
  • His first collaboration with Kanye West, "We Major," became Jay-Z's favorite song on Late Registration.

Nas' Early Life

As a kid, Nas wanted to be an instrumentalist. His father is jazz/blues musician Olu Dara, and Nas sometimes practiced with his dad's trumpet. Nas was also into comics. But, he immersed himself in the hip-hop culture shortly after his parents Olu Dara and Ann Jones separated. That was when young Nasir Jones began to write short stories and poetry.

The Making of Illmatic: The Hip-Hop Bible

Nas made his hip-hop debut on "Halftime," which was featured on MC Serch's soundtrack to Zebrahead. In mid-1992, MC Serch helped Nas secure a deal with Columbia Records. The initial concern was that Columbia, a major label, would dilute Nas' raw rap style. In 1994, Illmatic was released and its grimy feel allayed all fears. The album featured production by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, and Q-Tip, and a relatively unknown emcee named AZ. It was lauded as a masterpiece.

Nas Vs Jay Z: A Classic Hip-Hop Feud

Following the competitive nature of east coast rap, one of Brooklyn's most prolific rhyme-slingers, Jay-Z, found himself in a wax war with QB's No. 1 draft pick, Nas. Most rap fans will tell you that Nas won the battle with "Ether," his esoteric, yet wittily ferocious response to Jay-Z's "Takeover." Both rappers claimed victory in a BET interview.

50 Cent Versus Nas

Long before Nas even squashed his beef with Jay-Z, fellow Queens, NY native 50 Cent blatantly called him out on the diss song "Piggy Bank." Nas fired right back with the subliminal track "MC Burial (Don't Body Ya'self)." Nas vowed to finish off the counter-attack with an "Ether"-esque haymaker later on.

Def Jam: A New Home

Nas married R&B diva Kelis, but their marriage eventually hit the rocks and ended in a divorce. The couple has a son named Knight. Nas has a daughter, Destiny, with ex-girlfriend Carmen Bryant.

Perhaps the most notable sign of change and maturity was his new alliance with former nemesis Jay-Z. Nas is currently signed to Jay-Z's Def Jam Records, where he dropped the fiercely titled Hip-Hop Is Dead on December 19, 2006.

In 2008, Nas released his 2nd Def Jam album, Untitled. In 2010, he teamed up with reggae star Damian Marley on the collaborative album Distant Relatives. He returned to the studio after that to work on what would later become known as Life Is Good

Nas Says

"How am I window shopping? I showed him his first Bentley, his first real diamond ring because you know he couldn't afford no real stuff back then. I was showing him the way to go. The G-Unit spinning chain is a replica of the QB chain. I was showing him that. If anybody is window shopping, it ain't me." (Responding to 50 Cent's "Window Shopper" in an MTV interview.)

Nas' Discography

  • 1994 - Illmatic 
  • 1996 - It Was Written
  • 1999 - I Am...(The Autobiography)
  • 1999 - Nastradamus
  • 2001 - Stillmatic
  • 2002 - God's Son
  • 2004 - Street's Disciple
  • 2006 - Hip-Hop Is Dead
  • 2008 - Untitled
  • 2010 - Distant Relatives
  • 2012 - Life Is Good