Nas Recalls Working With DJ Premier & Q-Tip On "Illmatic"

Nasir Jones reminisces on working in the studio with the veteran producers for his classic 1994 debut.

Nas is currently gearing up to perform his 1994 classic Illmatic on the Rock the Bells 2011 tour with DJ Premier and AZ. In preparation for his performances, he spoke with Fuse (via RR) about working with Primo in the studio and how the two clicked during the recording process.

“Premier brought to the table someone who I felt like was like myself. Premier was more like my guys, we related like that. Premier spoke my language all day, 24/7,” he recalled. “We sat down and he played records. He opened up his crates to me. He showed me records, he let me play them on the turntable, listen to things that I like. He was open, easy. Just real chill. So we’d just go through records for hours. He had ideas, beat ideas, he would lay down one thing and I’d lay down a rhyme to it and then he’d come back and [say,] ‘Change it up. Change that.’ Or I’d say, ‘I think this would sound better with this sound in it.’ He was just easy to work with.”

He also explained how he came up with the concept for the Q-Tip-produced “One Love,” which addresses an incarcerated friend and what’s happened in the streets since he turned himself in to do a bid.

“Just the story of ‘One Love,’ just writing a letter to someone in prison... I thought that it was what everyone of us, what everyone I knew, knew about. I didn’t understand there was no record like that before. And then the message being ‘one love’ was not a new saying, but it was new in the hood, kind of. It was just a positive thing to promote strength, even though you’re going through something serious in your bid. We still out here in the street and we still connected. You never die like that.”

Nas also recalled how Q-Tip presented him with the beat for “One Love” and had the intention to call it “My Summer Vacation.” After he laid his verses to the track, he showed the A Tribe Called Quest member what he wanted to convey.

“When Q-Tip first gave me the beat, he had this idea, it was called ‘My Summer Vacation.’ It was funny he said that, because it was like a student off for the summer and then comes back and tells the class what he did. It’s funny he said that because I already had the first two verses written, and I couldn’t wait to show him the different kind of letter i had. It wasn’t summer vacation, but it was about something else that Q-Tip could relate to. And when he heard it, he was like, ‘Wow, that’s it. That’s it!’”

RELATED: DJ Premier And Pete Rock Speak On Their Production On 'Illmatic'

31 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Elmatic was better than Illmatic, so he has nothing anymore. Poor Nas.

  • Real2Real

    Really, who cares about the opinions of today’s rap fans? Today’s generation are full of dick riding yes men, they’ll co-sign anything as long as it has a good beat, a bubblegum hook, and a techno like beat, don’t get shit twisted, I’m a young dude, but I really despise my generation, and the one below mine, our generation and theirs are full of idiots, who think they’re worthless two cents are valuable,, who’ll also sell their souls just to fit in. No one likes being themselves anymore, nor have any depth in their personalities, it’s all about what someone else is doing or wearing. Everything’s “swag this, swag that” hopefully as we age my generation and the one under us will mature, until then we’re fucked.

  • insanemacbeth

    NAS is heavy, but got his blueprint off THE GOD RAKIM.

  • haha

    This guy is overrated only on hiphopdx website, hes irrelevant now. Call him GOAT all you want, he still isn't. sweating over an album from ages ago LOL

    • Anonymous

      Get off my dick. It's pathetic now.

    • comachonvargas

      ^^^^ Clearly EUROJAY fans Godson >> Vol1/Vol2/Vol3/BP2/BP3/WTT Stillmatic > Blueprint IWW > Reasonable Doubt/Black Album Illmatic > Jay's entire discography 'Stillmatic still eye for an eye You wanna be god? You just the next rapper to die Fucking with Nas' ONE

    • Anonymous

      Because NOBODY cares about his other albums. This dude will only be remembered for Illmatic. Yes, that's right, because those fools think Nas is ''real'' Hip Hop. Hahahahaha, only artit they listen to. That next album will be garbage, exactly like the ones before.

  • KELIS

    HE FVCKED ME SO GOOD..........................

  • EscoHOST

    Nas is part of the Holy Trinity of Hip Hop right now that includes Nas Jay and Em

  • Anonymous

    the greatest rapper of all time noone can fuck with this man lyrically, and has thegreatest hip hop album of all time.

  • Vince

    My favorite album of all time.

  • Anonymous

    he's got such presence about him. GOAT.

    • Anonymous

      To those two jackasses who said Nas is irrelevant. I'm gonna assume you are between the ages of 15 to 18 years old. Nas is a beast on the mic and has several very good albums. You crack heads betta take the d*cks out yo mouth and ears. GTFOH with that bullshit. Buncha herbs!

  • Nuno Andrade

    nasir jones the king of new york....

  • Sensaye252

    I'm proud of my son Esco. When I first heard Nas, it was on a tape my homeboy played for me in the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I'm 29 now and he's still the nicest MC.

  • BIG MIKE

    em & nas are staying true to HIP HOP best in the game right now

    • meezy

      nas is but eminem, really? he is probably the best lyricist, but his music overall isn't the best. Let it be known that Alex da Kid beats take emphasis away from the lyrics and place them primarily on the hook. Songs like lighters, i need a doctor, and love the way you lie are all examples of this. I miss the old eminem, who had most of his beats produced by himself and dr dre. Beats are important dont act like they're not

  • Phil House

    memory lane my favorite song on that whole album cant wait to see him perform that at rtb in ny sept3 boyeeee!

  • 4real

    One Love was 1 of those videos that came on & you saw then looked forward to... it was 1 of those videos we recorded with the VHS tapes and its definitely a certified classic. If I had 2 pick a song & video to sum up his career this would definitely be the track because it lasted the test of time - even the beat is still hard.

  • Killmatic

    Nas doesn't age at all,lol. G.O.A.T.

  • Anonymous

    Nas look like Master P in this pic lol.

  • yesss

    Greatest of all time, after Pac.

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