Nas Recalls First Hip Hop Concert, Making "Illmatic"

Nas reminisces about seeing MC Shan live and the effort that went into making "Illmatic."

A person's first live concert can be a life-changing experience, and none more so than for Nas. Now, in a recent mini-documentary titled "BECOMING" with director Jamie Patricof via Soul Culture, the Queensbridge emcee recalls his first live show featuring MC Shan.

Nas remembered going to a Shan performance in his native Queensbridge projects as child along with his brother. He said that while the show was shut down early due to gunfire, watching Shan perform made him realize his desire to pursue music.

"Maybe the first Hip Hop show that I went to was in Queensbridge Park," he said. "I was young, and my brother was young, and it eventually got shot up. But before the mayhem, earlier that evening, MC Shan performed. When Shan touched the stage, it was serious. I never heard anything like that in my life. We had great aspirations to get into something that would change our lives. I knew that [Hip Hop] was the life for me."

Nas also recalled the making of his seminal debut LP Illmatic. He explained that in the '90s, an artist's album wasn't meant to portray the lavish lifestyle of a super-star emcee; rather, it was intended to depict the real struggles of the man behind the mic.

"My era was the era of breaking it all down to what's the real," he recalled. "It wasn’t about the star, it was about the man. They say this album changed hip hop because it was the first hip hop album with multiple big producers – it hadn’t been done. Those four - Pete Rock, Large Professor, [DJ] Premier, Q-Tip were the greatest – and are the greatest."

Check out the full interview below.

RELATED: Nas Launches Online Lifestyle Company 12Society

25 Comments

  • Anonymous

    "Bet he wishes he could do an album without Kanye executing producing the whole thing" Oh yeah. I'm sure Jay stays up nights worrying about that. BTW... R u Kris Humpries, cause you sound very bitter.

    • Anonymous

      You know how they say, one hot album every ten year average. BTW, I've NEVER heard somebody bigging up that supposed "classic" offline. Fuck it, you won't even see anyone online talking about that forgettable ass disc anymore. Besides dudes like you who think Nas is the be all and end all of Hip Hop, of course. But your opinion holds the same weight as that of a white guys who thinks Hip Hop started with Pac and Biggie, who has Eminem as the GOAT on his list.

    • YOUNGFOREVERAHHHH!!

      Kris Humphries got no reason to feel bitter he stepped his career up once Kim dropped him and now Kanye jumped on that train wreck and has been putting out shit music ever since Meanwhile... check Ye production credits on Blueprint, Black Album, BP2, BP3, Watch the Throne... Jay seems to have a hard time crafting decent material without Ye's influence or contribution 'Your little homie Jungle is a garden to me' 'Oh its international Hov... call him Euro Jay' You Jay stans are pathetic... prob salty cause Nas just dropped another classic and had the best verse of the year on Hip Hip

  • Anonymous

    Nas recalls the first time he heard a Ja Rule album.

  • Lilworm

    nas and eminem, can't decide who's the goat!

  • Anonymous

    nice recalls the first time he went on a roller coaster

  • Anonymous

    nas recalls his first ice cream

  • Anonymous

    nas recalls the first time he smoke a blunt

  • Anonymous

    nas recalls his first tattoo

  • KJ

    Nas is the Greatest Emcee Fuck you if you if you disagree

  • anonymous

    Nas recalls his hit last year...oh wait, he didn't have one.

    • Anonymous

      he didn't have one last year because he didn't put out an album last year. but this year, he had a #1 album - life is good.

  • anonymous

    Nas recalls the first time he wet the bed

  • Anonymous

    I bet Nas gets tired of talking about how Jay bodied him.

    • @OHBEHAVE!!!!

      ahah very true

    • K-I-SS-I-N-G

      Bet Nas gets tired of watching that I Declare War concert that saved his career Bet Nas regrets signing to his arch enemy, but you gotta bow down to superior artists right? Bet Nas gets tired of getting outshined by pop singers on his big singles... Hero? Make The World Go Round? Nas snaked another hit formula and got worked hard by his female/male vocalist... bet he thinks he owned both those tracks Bet Nas would trade the superior half of his discography for getting ONE album that would be produced by Kanye Bet he wishes he could do an album without being outshined by foreign artists but mainstream trends defined his sound a long time ago (when he needed Jay to remind him of his older self) with his mainstream albums and he needed Damian Marley to beat a bit of musical sense into his fucking deaf ass Bet he doesn't mind getting cash from manipulated dickriders who overrate the shit out of at least half of his discography, who think he's a real artist when he can't drop one single album without at least two horrible sellout attempts that throw off his album concepts

    • OHBEHAVE!!!!!!

      ^^^^^^^^^^^ Bet Jay gets tired of watching that hot 97 sobfest he put on when asked about Ether... Bet Jay regrets the 'OH BEHAVE' wackness that was Blueprint 2... but you gotta to learn to live with regrets right? Bet Jay gets tired of getting outshined by R&B singers on his big singles... Run this town? Empire state of mind? Jay snaked another classic nas title and got worked hard by his female vocalist... bet he thinks he owned both those tracks Bet he wishes he could do an album without Kanye executing producing the whole thing... but Kanye defined his sound a long time ago with Blueprint and now Ye is carrying his washed up ass Bet he doesn't mind getting cash from glorified dickriders who overrate the shit out of at least half of his discography

  • anon

    Nas recalls the first time he picked a good beat

  • RC

    It may get a little tedious for Nas to always discuss Illmatic and every little detail that went into the recording. But the legacy of that record will no doubt outlive him and possibly us God willing if Hip-Hop is still around in a recognizable form 70 years from now. College professors will be discussing this album in music lectures like people talk about Coltrane and Miles Davis, and that in itself is a blessing & a honor in the utmost degree.

  • Anonymous

    i bet nas gets tired of talking about illmatic.

    • Anonymous

      "that fact he's made the greatest hip hop album ever" fuck outta here ! doggystyle was waaaay better than illmatic. even though i prefer nas than snoop dogg and i consider snoop being a huge mothafuckin sellout since he left death row i have to admit that doggystyle was way better than illmatic from a distance ! dont get me wrong though. illmatic is a good album. but as far as the best album ever it is easily arguable.

    • Anonymous

      I bet he still loves talking about it! that fact he's made the greatest hip hop album ever, as well as an impressive cataloge since makes him the GOAT. (Em & Pac on par imo)

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