It seems hard to fathom that Nas has been in the Hip-Hop game for a quarter of a century, and still has more to offer the genre and culture as a visionary label head. The Mass Appeal Records boss sat down with Billboard for a wide-ranging discussion about the upcoming docu-series Rapture, almost signing Rapsody, and how he’s aiding Dave East in his continued come up.
In that same episode, you praised Killer Mike, who I think is — while he’s known for by new listeners for his part in Run the Jewels — he’s very much an underappreciated and underrated MC. Do you remember the first time you got hip to Killer Mike? Was it a record or an album that he had?
Something Outkast-related. I always knew Killer Mike was a lyricist, and I knew he had something to say outside of his music. That stood out to me the most. That’s what made me want to work with him, because not only is he extremely talented as a lyricist, he’s political. He’s for the people, he’s for freedom, he’s for education, he’s for building. I’m drawn to people like that. And I think he’s a smart guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s an example of someone who has drive. I use that word a lot. That’s the difference between men and the boys.
How important was it to try to showcase different backgrounds that have been able to thrive and succeed in hip-hop with acts like Rapsody, 2 Chainz, and Logic representing different sides of the genre?
I’ve known Rapsody for a while, and we were talking about signing her for a while. Very interested in her whole thing, so it was an honor to have her — a female hip-hop artist who could spit better than most of the hip-hop artists right now. It was important that we showcase that, especially right now with the season of Netflix and the Roxanne Roxanne movie about a hip-hop pioneer. Someone who comes from my neighborhood Queens, a big inspiration for me.
I’ve been a supporter of all rap, male and female, since the beginning. Antoinette, MC Lyte — Rapsody, to me, comes from that lineage, so it’s important right now and we are so timely and so on point with this Rapture piece. She was just nominated for a Grammy. She just dropped a great album. It’s just her time.
Check out the full interview by following this link.