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We’ll see a lot more of Nas in the weeks leading up to Illmatic‘s 20th anniversary. Google Play debuted a tribute to the Queensbridge poet, featuring additional commentary from TDE’s Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Jay Rock, as well as Tech N9ne, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, and more.

“I rap from that perspective of a human being,” said Nas. “And in rap, that wasn’t really the thing.” During a time when MCs were either street or the total opposite, Nasty Nas provided a blueprint for how to effectively tread the line between the two. Live from his project window, the then young wordsmith waxed poetics in a way never before seen.

“I did mine my way,” Nas explained. “And in me doing mine my way, I think it encouraged a lot more people and the state of rap at that time —and now even— to feel free to speak about whatever you feeling without feeling like they gonna come down on you ’cause you not tough. Even a gangster cries.”

Hear more from Nas in the clip below.

Photo: YouTube