The 25 Best Nas Quotes

The Queens, New York-born rapper Nas is authenticity incarnate. He is what you get when you distill the essence of an emcee: lyricism, insight and snarl. Boasting perhaps the greatest rap record of all time his debut, Illmatic, Nas has gone on to become one of the biggest names in rap and one of its iconic forefathers.

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Known for songs like “New York State of Mind” and, later, his well-publicized beef with Jay Z, Nas has since grown to become a walking-talking man of wisdom.

But with all that experience and history to his name, one might wonder what the now-49-year-old artist has to say about his career, about life and love and the world at large. Here are the best 25 Nas quotes.

1. “There was a side of me that knew I was gonna change the game, but I didn’t know how many people would respect it.”

2. “Hip-hop artists, especially the older ones, are the ones who knew hip-hop was a worldwide phenomenon before the mainstream caught on, so hip-hop artists are forward thinkers. We want to stay with the new.”

3. “Hip-hop lasted and survived all these years that you have to give it credit. Even though it’s not up to people’s expectations anymore, it’s still here, and that says a lot.”

4. “Rap is sort of like a form of talking, right? So it’s like you can hear the slaves doing it. You can hear Africans and Jamaicans doing it as, like, a rhythmic, poetic conversation to a rhythm.”

5. “I think hip-hop could help rebuild America, once hip-hoppers own hip-hop… We are our own politicians, our own government, we have something to say. We’re warriors. Soldiers.”

6. “Marley is someone before his time, man. He’s—he’s almost—he’s like a deity. I talk about what’s going on, but of course Bob, before rappers, was already laying that kind of thing down.”

7. “Gaga is one of my favorites. Her voice is incredible and she’s fearless and she’s ahead of the game. She’s ahead of the entire game, and I admire that.”

8. “My record company had to beg me to stop filmin’ music videos in the projects. No matter what the song was about, I had ’em out there.”

9. “It’s never been seen that a street artist go as far as I’ve gone—keep consistent without wanting to do a bunch of ventures outside of music to keep my face out there.”

10. “I’m not talking about Russia in my music. I’ve never been to Russia. I’m not talking about Africa, Switzerland, China. I’m talking about me being American and growing up in a crazy world and helping to reflect all different sides of life.”

11. “Unfortunately, man, a lot of places in America have to deal with unnecessary violence. Somebody like me who knows it firsthand and could relate… I had a best friend killed, plenty other friends killed. I been through it. I seen it.”

12. “I want to have fun. It’s a beautiful life. You learn, you win, you lose, but you get up.”

13. “Once you make it to your point of making it, you’ll appreciate the struggle.”

14. “I don’t have time for the news clippings. I got my own mission.”

15. “I don’t want any title. I just say what I say, and hopefully, somebody gets it, man. I’m not perfect, and I’m just here and trying to make a dollar, and being real at the same time.”

16. Calling Michelle ‘Barack Obama’s baby mama?’ Tell me, is that acceptable? But the Obamas aren’t the only targets. Fox’s pattern of race-baiting and fear-mongering regularly focuses on Black leaders, Black institutions and ordinary Black people.

17. “All fatherhood is very important because single mothers shouldn’t have to raise sons or daughters; they need that help.”

18. “When I say ‘hip-hop is dead,’ basically, America is dead. There is no political voice. Music is dead.”

19. “Africa has been going through so much for so many years; it’s time that it stands up the way other nations are standing up.”

20. “The things that I have said when I was young and curious about whatever the subject matter was, I respect those—those are growing pains. Even if you make mistakes, I go back to those things, my not-so-great moments because those are my truest moments; those are my human moments. I’m not even mad at the things I said that were a little dicey.”

21. “Man, me and Biggie were the biggest artists in New York. When he passed, I was so messed up. My attitude was messed up about him dying. There was an East-West thing back then, and I was in war mode.”

22. “Anybody I’m dating, I don’t want them to talk about my music. I don’t talk about my music to them.”

23. “We’re all Africans, everyone—black, white, yellow.”

24. “I want to sound like an instrument. I want my voice and my words to marry the beat. I go with the rhythm of it and the words start to come to my mind and those words could be based on things that’s been on my mind for the past year, the past month, the past week, whatever; I write it.”

25. “The flaws, the mistakes I make—that’s the real me.”

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