*Hip-hop star Nas “shares his philosophy as a lyricist, breaking down how he used his life experiences and emotions to create incredibly raw yet cinematic lyrics with a message to inspire MasterClass members to do the same,” a press release states.
Complex spoke with the rapper about MasterClass and why he is sharing some tools of the trade in his new workshop, which begins Oct. 14. Check out excerpts from the interview below as well as the trailer for the artist’s MasterClass.
Nas, you’re doing a MasterClass on hip-hop storytelling. How did the project come together and what were your first impressions of the opportunity?
Nas: MasterClass is a great thing for people to get the inside scoop on what’s going on with artists, producers, actors, and people. I think it’s dope that we take time out of our lives to sit down and think about what it took for us to get here, and think about our journey and share it with people in a way that’s different than we ever did before. I think the whole thing is a great concept.
Have you ever had the idea to do something educational before?
Nas: Yeah, as a music fan, I’m always trying to learn something different about music. Since I was a kid, I was looking up Motown. Berry Gordy owns Motown. What type of person is he? What makes him tick? I wanted to know how a lot of things work in music—not just the business side, it was definitely the music side, too. I wanted to be in the music business and also be able to help people who are trying to get in.
How did working with MasterClass help further the idea of knowledge-sharing for future generations of rap artists?
Nas: I feel like everybody has their own technique. If you take a look at mine, it’s really too much to say in one MasterClass. If you take my technique, I think you’ll find that it might be real similar to yours if you’re a writer. You might see things that you do that are similar or that you didn’t see before in yourself. You might find that I gave you something that could add to what you’re doing, and I think that’s important. I think that’s where we’re at in the business: it’s to share.
There are 12 video lessons on the course. What was the decision-making process, as far as organizing the curriculum and layout?
Nas: It’s all about giving you what you need in chapters, increments, and giving you the vibe. It’s sort of hard to break it down, so those different classes and different steps make the most sense to me. That’s how I would like to receive it from an artist, so I thought that that’s the way for the person that’s watching it to give them the time to soak it in, each one piece-by-piece. I break it down piece-by-piece, and each piece is different. Each piece gives you more of my life. A lot of it is about my life journey.
Nas, you’ve been open about your inspirations, like Rakim, MC Shan, Kool G Rap, and more. Who are some of the first people who helped you hone your craft as a lyricist and help you learn your first rhyme techniques?
Nas: It was all of those guys. It was all of those guys who were showing me where to go with it until I found my voice. When I came up, I was listening to everything that was out, and I had to find my voice because I knew if you don’t add nothing new to the game, you’re not even going to last more than one year, more than one song, more than one single, or more than one album. I knew that was coming, and that’s what kept my energy up for writing songs, because I was hearing it on each thing I wrote. I was hearing more of me, and by the time that I got into the business, I was ready to go. From there, I found myself in new territory where I’m the new sound, and I’m the new vibe. I’m the new wave, and I had to figure out how to complete albums at that point, because I hadn’t seen me before. It was all fresh from the heart, so I was just going and going and got to a place where I was good.
Read the full conversation here.