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CNN Says Nas Is “The Greatest Lyricist Of All Time”


Nas is good, but CNN thinks Nas is damn good. In a story titled “A case for Nas, hip-hop’s finest MC” the news outlet defends its stance that the man born Nasir Jones is “the greatest lyricist of all time.”

The story cites Nas’ longevity, he turns 40 next summer—and the the gift of rhyme, of course—as one of the main reasons for the lofty praise, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

With “Life is Good,” Nas dropped his ninth No. 1 hip-hop album since 1994. Seven of those have gone platinum, which places him second among rappers only to Jay-Z with 11. (We’re not counting compilations or collaborations here, only original solo efforts, and yes, Tupac Shakur had nine, but five were posthumous releases.)

It also ties Nas with Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion or whatever his name is, and it puts the Queens native one plaque ahead of Eminem, Too Short, OutKast and LL Cool J, all of whom belong in the greatest-ever discussion, as well.

As for the inevitable, “What about Tupac and Biggie?” question, Nas acknowledge the greatness of the late rap icons. “I just think Biggie was something else. He was the Hitchcock of this thing, man,” Nas told CNN. “He told you a story. There was a seriousness that came with it that can’t compare with nothing.”

The “Cherry Wine” rapper added, “I’d probably be better if they were still around. I think I’d be a lot better.”

If you’re a true rap fans you’ve already thought of that line from Jay-Z’s “Where I’m From”: “I from where ni–as pull your card, and argue all day about who’s the best MC’s, Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas.”

And as for Hova in this debate, according to CNN writer Eliott C. McLaughlin, the Brooklyn MC is most definitely skilled, but only has the edge on Nas when it comes to business side of the game:

Here is where that “lyricist” v. “hip-hop artist” distinction becomes important.

Jay-Z said it best himself: He’s not a businessman; he’s a business, man. When you consider 11 of his albums have sold at least a million copies — seven of those 2 million or more — as have his four collaborations, two with R. Kelly and one each with Linkin Park and Kanye West, it’s as if Hova is King Midas, but with platinum.

He’s a hit maker extraordinaire, maybe the world’s best, but that doesn’t translate to best lyricist. Jay-Z acknowledged as much on “Moment of Clarity” when he rhymed, “If skills sold, truth be told/I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.”

Even in dissing Nas on “Takeover,” he explained why he had sampled Nas’ lyrics on “Dead Presidents”: “So yeah, I sampled your voice; you was using it wrong/you made it a hot line; I made it a hot song.”

Not a bad argument at all. Let us know who you think is the “greatest lyricist of all time” in the comments.

Photo: Def Jam


Comment Comments: 34 Tags Tags: jay-z, nas, cnn

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  • sam

    Nas deserve the award.

  • Finally, Nas is getting the respect he deserves.

  • Hi

    Agreed. He deserves this ten times over

  • nikki

    Yes about time

  • Cathy

    Nas deserved that respect !! if biggie and pac were still here.. he would be better we all would be in some way but he definately deserves it

  • kevin uk

    Nas son!!! Thats whats up!!!

  • god son, one of nas most slep on cds ever!!! Luv him..

    • Rita

      @facebook-1142882132:disqus….Pretty Much.

    • Legendary Trolly

      Nah Streets Disciple was BRILLIANT double disc, and THAT was slept on! People still forget about that one, nothing but hits.

  • champhf

    1000% agree yes….. Nas is hands down the best lyricist in hip hop… one love Nas.

  • Melech

    Glad to see Nas getting that respect. Unquestionably the best lyricist ever.

  • FaRoc

    No question!

  • dy

    CNN got it right. The best hands down

  • kwills_30

    Something true hip-hop heads have known for years! Glad he’s getting the acknowledgment he deserves!

  • Hip

    Nas deserves that respect especially by CNN. Dude been putting in work for years.

  • Native1

    Word! I’ve loved Nas since Illmatic! CNN stay reporting the truth

  • Dred Whitehead

    Theres A Difference Between Someone Who Do It For The Money
    And Someone Who Do It For The Love….. Jay Z LilWayne 50 and them
    Do It For The Money THA GOD N A S DO IT FOR THE LOVE <3

  • Al

    Well deserved. He IS the best. No questions about it!

  • TiteyWhitey

    Undoubtedly, he deserves this title. Makes me glad to see him getting props at this level from a mainstream media outlet.

  • Prfxshun

    Not! Of All Time?! Not! – Lets see KRS1/Scarface/Rakim/MosDef/ Twalib/ Man this list could go on and on but Nas the greatest of all Time – Not! (All Time) Nas is good but the Greatest of all Time – Not!

    • illamatic IV life

      you know nothing about hip-hop, Nas was the second coming of R. the 18 letter. Scaface +Twalib worked with him & everyone respects him

  • irene

    Yes yes ya’ll

  • Ronald Daughtry

    Nas is a great, but Rakim is the best ever lyrically.

    • Rakim is the best

      …even Nas would agree!

  • Makavelireturns

    EMINEM Still don’t get his RESPECT Tho!

  • Makavelireturns

    Nas is good, Eminem is way better tho!

  • Makavelireturns

    Nas your whole damn style was bitten – 2pac

  • Nas is the greatest lyricist of all time. If Biggie was still alive it would be him.

  • mistermike

    X-Raided is the best lyricist.

  • omg you mean to tell me they arent giving it to lil wayne? i thought he was the greatest of all time lmao hahahahhahahahahhahahahah. thank god someone with some actual skill gets some credit with what we have now on the radio.

  • Calikid805

    Lil Wayne’s gotta be up there too and can’t forget about the late great Mac Dre aka Al Boo Boo the genie of the lamp

  • Charles

    The R RAKIM then NAS

  • victor kwena

    eminem is the best

  • critikal

    go nas