Nas recently caught up with NPR for a pretty candid and revealing interview. The Queensbridge rapper’s 10th album, Life Is Good, just dropped last week to critical praise; plenty of which is for its honesty in regards to his personal life. Mainly, his well publicized divorce from Kelis. NPR spared no punches in asking Nas about the work’s personal nature and content, and the “Hate Me Now” rapper was forthcoming with the answers.
I’m wondering why you decided to open up so much about your personal life on this record. You exposed yourself in ways that you haven’t in the past.
In the past I had to deal with issues that hit me as a younger man. As a man who wasn’t married who didn’t really have the experience that I have now. Today I’m a different guy. Obviously, I’m older. I’ve been through a lot more. The strongest subject matter that I was writing about was more about me and growing up.
If every rap album is about how you came up in the hood and how you had to make it out of the hood — I’m 38 now; this is my 10th album. I wouldn’t want to hear someone be around for a long time talking about the same thing. I want to get to know this person; I want to hear the artist. I want to hear them give me something that I can relate to, other than the fact that everything’s about bragging. So today, if I made an album just to sell you a story about how I’m the man, it really doesn’t show any human side to me. It’s good to talk about what’s real and what’s relevant.
I read that you spent a lot of time listening to a record by Marvin Gaye, a seminal record,Here, My Dear, which is about the breakup of his marriage.
Yes, I’m a big fan of Marvin, and I guess about 12 years ago I heard this album, Here, My Dear. And I thought it was crazy that entertainers — it’s hard to find that woman because there’s so many women being thrown at us and there’s that trust thing there, and of course we’re artists and we need someone with compatible wit and finding that is not always easy.
Marvin was married to Berry Gordy’s sister. She was older than him and she was sophisticated, she was fly. She had the diamonds, the pearls. She knew how to live and she taught him how to live. She was his love and it ended and he chose to do an album about that when other styles of music were becoming popular at the time. He could have took advantage of the new style of music that was hitting. Instead, what he had to do — he had his tax problems, all kinds of things — what he needed to do was give this record to her, the money from the record. But most of all, he turned the record into a record about her. I didn’t want to do that. He inspired me, so I wanted to do it my way.
Nas also discusses wanting to “sound like an instrument,” Illmatic, Amy Winehouse and more.
Read the rest of the in depth NPR interview here.
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Photo: USA Today