*In a new interview, hip-hop icon Nas dished with NME about his new album “King’s Disease,’ hanging with the late Amy Winehouse and possibly reuniting with Jay-Z on a new track.
The publication caught up with Nas on a Zoom call, during which he got candid about fighting systemic racism and Nipsey Hussle’s plans for a Nas documentary. There’s also the possibility of a Nas biopic.
“There’s been talk about me doing my life story, like a TV series. [Producer] Brian Grazer called me into his office years ago to discuss doing something like that. I think it’ll happen if it’s supposed to happen, and when it’s time,” the rapper explained. “It could be too soon right now, I don’t know. But it has to feel right. It has to come together in a way that makes me go: ’This will make a difference. This will be what I think it should be. I don’t wanna just do it just to see my life story. It has to be right.”
Check out excerpts from his conversation with NME below.
Built this love for you…you can never Replace Me ️ video out now https://t.co/vDrAC6vcxJ
— Nasir Jones (@Nas) October 22, 2020
‘King’s Disease’ is a very complex album with a lot for the listener to digest…
“I wanted to put together a bunch of music that represents Nasir in 2020. Me and [rapper and producer] Hit-Boy started working on it before COVID hit but then the quarantine stopped us and I decided I didn’t wanna release it anymore. But then I got the call from him and he woke me up, telling me that we gotta finish it. So it’s just a piece of work around what I was thinking this year.”
There’s a moment where you refer to King’s Disease as “rich man disease” – have you ever suffered from believing your own hype?
“I wanna say probably, because everybody gets caught up for at least five minutes in their life, where you’re just in love with the moment that you’re in. The moment of achievement, the moment of success, you know? But I’m not the guy that dwells on anything that’s not feeding me either. So I can’t say that I’ve let anything get the best of me, but I’m human. So perhaps maybe somewhere down the line I have, yeah.”
The album’s lead single, ‘Ultra Black’, is a beautiful celebration of Black excellence. Sadly, there are still white people in the world who think that being pro-Black means being anti-white…
“I think people don’t realise there’s a reason for records like James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud’. They weren’t recorded because everything was OK and we wanted to say, ‘Hey man, I’m better than you white people.’ The reason for them is the foot on our necks. We’re in a world right now where we’re facing some really terrible racist practices and there are people who don’t realise it’s happening. So these records were made to remind us that we are God’s creation just like every white man, every Asian brother, and everyone else.
“We’re trying to tell you that we’ve been told that we’re nothing so much that we’re breaking down the ignorance. We’re breaking down the hatred, we’re breaking down the lies. We’re removing the chokehold of systemic racism from our throats. Systemic racism kills our spirit. It kills our drive. It kills our souls. It kills our dreams and it kills our body with bullets, you know, by the people that were supposed to protect us. So ‘Ultra Black’ represents love.”
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A few months back you posted a pic of you and Nipsey Hussle to celebrate what would have been his 35th birthday. You captioned it: “We had plans my brother.” What were you guys talking about doing?
“It was more to do with business and investment business. One thing he wanted to talk to me about was putting together a documentary on ‘I Am’ [the 1999 album that was originally intended as a live album]. Once it got bootlegged, I didn’t even want to hear it again. I didn’t want to hear those songs again. I was just upset, you know? Nipsey was really serious about doing a documentary about it and he was working on it. Not as far as like gathering footage, but I gave him my blessing to do it.”
You were good friends with Amy Winehouse. You recorded a couple of records together – 2012’s ‘Cherry Wine’ and 2011’s ‘Like Smoke’ – but were there any more planned?
“We discussed a song for her next album, which was a ‘Me & Mr. Jones’ part two in a way. I forget the name, but it was something like ‘The Fuckery’. But yeah, we talked about doing another song together and just working together. More than anything, we just talked and joked around. We shared the same birthday and we liked the same type of humour. She had jokes so we’d just sit there and joke on the phone for hours.”
Last year, New York rapper Dave East told NME about a Timbaland beat he has with a Jay-Z verse on it. He said he wants to get you on it alongside him and Jay . Has he asked you about it?
“He told me about it. I was just waiting on a phone call.”
So you’re open to the idea?
“Yeah. I haven’t heard the song yet, but all East has to do is tell me when it’s a go, and if it’s a go I’m there.”
Nas’ ‘King’s Disease’ is out now on all streaming platforms.
Read his full NME interview here.