Nas

Nas, Rap Artist , NYC


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Nasir Jones (born September 14, 1973), known simply as Nas and formerly Nasty Nas, is an American rapper.

Son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas is well known for his 1994 debut album Illmatic, which many consider to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. This album established Nas as one of hip-hop's most profound lyricists, introducing his signature poetic style. Raised in the notorious Queensbridge housing projects in New York City, he represents a continuation of a hip-hop tradition in Queensbridge that has spanned through early hip-hop, including the Juice Crew, Marley Marl, and MC Shan.

Following Illmatic with It Was Written, Nas pursued a more mainstream direction, which resulted in wider success but decreased artistic credibility among critics and hip-hop purists. Furthermore, Nas' increased commercial success was accompanied by stylistic changes that fostered accusations of giving in to corporate wishes and compromising the style that had enamored his fans of him. Nevertheless, the album Stillmatic is often credited for restoring Nas' credibility among fans. Since the success of Stillmatic, Nas has continued to maintain a high profile within the hip-hop community, and has pursued a decidedly personal aesthetic. He remains one of the most respected and acclaimed contemporary rappers with audiences and critics alike.

Biography

Nas, whose given name Nasir means "helper and protector" in Arabic, spent the first years of his life in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. His father, Olu Dara was a jazz trumpeter and his mother Fannie Ann Jones was a Postal Service worker. He has one sibling, a brother named Jabari who assumed the alias "Jungle" because he was born in Congo. While in Brooklyn, Nas would listen to his father's trumpet on his house's stoop at age four. The family soon after moved to the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing project in the United States. Olu Dara left the household in 1986, when Nas was 13, and Ann Jones raised her two boys on her own. Nas soon dropped out of school in the eighth grade. He educated himself, reading about African culture and civilization, the Bible and the Quran . He also studied the origin of hip hop music, taping records that played on his local radio station. Nas' interests moved away from playing the trumpet as a child to being a comic book hero artist.

By his golden years, he had settled on pursuing a career as a rapper, and as a teenager enlisted his best friend and upstairs neighbor Willie "Ill Will" Graham as his DJ. Nas first went by the nickname Kid Wave before adopting his more commonly known alias of Nasty Nas. Nas and Graham soon met hip-hop producer and Queens resident Large Professor (William Mitchell), who introduced Nas to his Toronto-based group, Main Source. In 1991, Nas made his on-record debut with a verse on "Live at the Barbeque", from Main Source's LP Breaking Atoms. Despite the substantial buzz for Nas in the underground scene, the rapper was rejected by major labels and was not signed to a recording deal. Nas and Graham continued to work together, but their partnership was cut short when Graham was shot and killed by a gunman in Queensbridge on May 23, 1992.



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