Nas Says He Changed The Game, Details "Time Is Illmatic" Reluctance In "Charlie Rose" Interview

Nas says that he initially "wanted nothing to do" with the "Time Is Illmatic" documentary.

In preparation for the release of his documentary, Time Is Illmatic, which is slated for October, Nas recently sat down with Charlie Rose on PBS to talk about his past, the documentary and more.

During the interview, the two talked about who the Queensbridge native's biggest influences are and among them were Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra, two people outside of the genre.

"I like when [Sinatra] said, 'I did it my way,'" Nas explained. "I didn't know Frank Sinatra's name. I heard about his name when I was a kid, but the song 'My Way' stood out to me, as a kid."

During the interview, Nas also called Queensbridge "school" and made the point that not enough is said positively about the community when neighborhoods are mentioned in Rap lyrics.

"[It meant] everything," he said. "It was school. The real school. It was survival of the fittest. It was beautiful. A lot of times when you hear rap artists talk about, we don't get a chance to talk about the beauty of the community also."

Regarding the documentary, Nas said he wanted "nothing to do with" it until he met with the film's directors and was impressed with their work.

"This was a couple years in the making by two cool guys," he said. "One9 and Eric Parker, they put this together and I had, I wanted nothing to do with it. Something about them, they kept at it and they was really so determined to get it done that, I thought it had gone away and just last year we had sat down and they showed me how much they'd done and I just had to take my hat off and finally sit down and do an interview and let them in and I'm glad I did."

Time Is Illmatic was recently purchased by Tribeca Film, which includes the U.S. distribution rights to the documentary.

Nas Says He Changed The Game

During the interview, Nas spoke about the state of Hip Hop and how it compares to his early days in the genre. 

"Today it's a lot easier to get into the Rap game but, back then in '94, it was a lot harder," he says.

When asked by Charlie Rose whether or not he changed Hip Hop Nas replied: "Yes. Yes I did and it was my point to. I was a new voice and being a new voice, automatically it was beyond my control."

Nas also spoke about his impact and the influences that he was inspired by. 

"I've influenced [a few artists] for sure and I've been influenced by a lot of artists as well... Slick Rick, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Eric B and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra. [It's a] wide list.

Watch the interview here.

RELATED: Nas' "Time Is Illmatic" Documentary Lands Global Distribution Deal

70 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Changed the game??? He ruined it with his boring metaphors and shitty beats.

  • Lu Chin CHen

    Anyone who says Illmatic is overrated wasn't alive or old enough to understand it when it came out. If you were at least Jr. High and up when it dropped...you know exactly what I mean.Anything that could be said about the greatness already has been said. This album was a game changer along with 36 CHambers and Ready to Die at that time. But Nas as a solo artist was more visual,diverse,lyrical and talented as a writer than anyone at that time.I wish the people who are talking shit could have been there to live in that era and feel the difference between then and now when it comes to music. Night and Day...for sure.

  • Anonymous

    Don't get me wrong, Illmatic is a great album but it's a lil bit overrated when you keep in kind how many other FANTASTIC rap albums were released before and well after it. There's so many classics from the 90's alone that it's just impossible to name ONE album as the undisputable GOAT to ever be released.

    • Getitgetit

      Those albums were never celebrated across the world like illmatic. We all know how great the 90 's was with great rap albums and music. It was the best era for rap but when illmatic dropped big homie not only did New York stop breathing for a second, it was in very major city! I lived it! It was the only thing being played for a while. Nas put that shit on a mantel! No other rapper did that with an album. Per lyrical flow of rap music in 10 tracks! It was a story album about New York gutters and projects. Nas made politicians and people abroad know how he lived! Simply amazing! Sorry but that album affected the whole rap era! Just plain nasty on every single track. It was unheard of at that time and now! Nas was the King then and now! No one has ever reached that level on an album. No one rapper! No album. Sorry but Nas is that dude period!

    • Anonymous

      it's so ill I can say illmatic GOAT and still like IWW better

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  • Anonymous

    studio gangster unlike lil durk

  • STONER

    if you ask me Nas is way too old for da rap game and he used to be a fake nigga!!! no criminal activity!!! ya understand nigga? diz nigga is a straight clown.... feel me ? he never went platinum!!! ops..... yougn niggas Wayne, Rozay, Drake all platium selling artists. old nigga should retire!!!! damn it

    • Anonymous

      Stoner, please leave this site immediately and head back to school. Go straight to the library and pick up every textbook you can find. Then, after you've educated yourself go do some research and realize that Nas has multiple platinum albums. Then, go do more research and realize that Ross is not young. To say that someone should quit putting out music because of their age is stupid. As long as one is still passionate about the art that they put out, why should they give up? Why should they fade away because people like you are too caught up in their age to miss the messages they have carefully placed into their music? The sheer ignorance from your post simply baffles me. Sincerely, a young brother who completely disagrees.

    • Anonymous

      So Icy Boi's new troll name >STONER

    • blah uno

      rick ross aint young bruh

    • Anonymous

      1. Nas has already went platinum. 2. If Nas is too old, then so is Ross and Wayne who are not young. 3. Ross has never went platinum.

    • Anonymous

      Broh just because someone sell a lot records does not mean that they are a greater rapper or artist. You feel me! It doe not mean shit. If you would have a vote today on who is the greatest MC against Nas I guarantee you nas would beat your list that you just mention easily! The guys that you are mentioning are just grade school rappers. Anyone can write their rhymes. I do mean anyone. Cat goes with Hat! As I said before after 20 years no one will mention your dudes. None of there albums are classics! No one hailed their albums as the greatest. Can you understand that? It is bubble gum rap!!! So GTFOOH!

  • SumItUp

    Nas has the greatest rap album in history! Nas is the greatest rapper of all time, period! Nas is the real King! Shit is proven!

  • Anonymous

    LOL, whos checking for ol' ass Nasty Nas in 2014? No one! Nigga fell of hard, this is a new era of rap. #CHIRAQ

    • Anonymous

      I would say anyone interested in a real emcee or who truly likes the sound of real unfiltered and watered down hip hop. This isn't tyga/ young money type of music young blood. As big krit said on Mt. Olympus "I ain't got time to watch out for children, stay out of my kitchen - The shit that i'm cookin' ain't meant for your kind." And in the case of a real emcee like Nas, his lyrics are above your head right now.

    • PowerofLove

      You must be a little girl! 13 or 14 maybe! Ha! Hah! Nas is the greatest of all time! His 20 year rap run in rap history speaks for itself and by the time you grow up your favorite rapper won't even be mention! Now that is tough isn't it!!!

  • Drake runs rap

    hahahahahahah irrelevent old geezer. Rap started when drake made music. Drake created and founded real rap. Drake made rap popular and universal. Before drake started rapping only virgins and loser nerds and fake gangsters listened to rap. Jay z made fake gangster rap. Nas made boring rap songs that put people to sleep. Eminem made pop rap. 50 cent made club rap. Drake on the other hand made real rap and he is the face of rap today. Drake runs this rap shit.

    • this kid

      Drake Got Bodied by eminem on forever Eminem is the highest selling hip hop artist of all time Nasty Nas illmatic shits on drakes discography period Drake sucks ass he has not made one classic album at all

    • Anonymous

      Take Drake's dick out your mouth and realize that none of that bullshit you say is true. Nas influenced every rapper after him and Drake hasn't influenced anyone good. Drake is not hip-hop at all, he's a pop act pandering to the mainstream and your groupie ass is buying into his shit.

    • Drake runs rap

      who did nas influence besides a bunch of boring underground rappers that will amount to nothing. Rappers that are sucessfull adapt drakes style of rap. If you want to make bedtime snoozefest songs then you can make songs like nas. Drake had more sucess in 5 years than nas had his entire carreer. Drake is the king of this rap shit and its hard for these virgins to accept reality. Get it through your thick skulls in 2014 all that maters in hiphop is drake everyone else is irrelevent.

    • SeeMe

      Nas is the GOAT! Name a rapper that he did not influence.

    • OneLoveNi$$a

      Don't understand your writing little boy! Please try to learn how to write well. Anyway, you know nothing about rap music because you are just rambling with your writing. Secondly, how can Drake be mention in the same breath as a Nas! Are you kidding us right now? Are you? The dude is yellow and you never seen a yellow dude do anything hard. The shit he "sings" about is weak as dish water! You can come better than that little homie! Nas is a heavyweight! The GOAT! Google Nas! Need I say more! Now google Drake! End of story, fake a$$ want to be a rap artist. By the way listening to Drake so call rap music with your girl, you will not have her long! You are a sad case little homie!!! Watch your girl!

    • drake runs rap

      truth hurts huh fan boy. Lets face it no1 checking for nas besides a couple of nerds and 40 year old virgins. When your out with your girl you aint playing this lame ass boring music from nas. You play that new drake shit which is what everyone wants to hear.

    • das

      You must be trolling! please tell me you're trolling. you can't be for real.

  • Anonymous

    Shit's def way overrated. People on here just mention it because they saw everyone do it. Nobody Carey about this album when it came out.

    • HappyLove

      Illmatic is so "F" hard it scares me. How can you be a high school drop out dude at the age 16 and write something like illmatic? Nas and this album is cemented forever little homie. No other rapper will come even close. Possible Jay but he never had an album like illmatic. That shit was praised and freaked 2PAC and Biggie out, you feel me little homie! You can't go no higher than those two when they love your shit. Nas is way out of this rap league! Just sat down and listen to this shit about three times. Shit is remarkable! Nas is a genius! By the way, I am listening to illmatic now! It scares me!

    • real rap

      wrong bro on so many level

  • nikkawhut?

    36 Chambers > Illmatic

    • SwayMyWay

      Are you kidding? Illmatic no features but on 36 chambers you had about 100 ni$$as. You feel me! Nas rap album is number 1. No other rap album come even close. Sorry no one is celebrating no other rap album. I do like 36 chambers and shit is banging. Wu is the shit!

  • Time Is Illmatic

    Without doubt over the marshall mathers lp, all eyes on me, life after death, stankonia, southerplayisticalddicalskdmwjfndksdkfa, over gkmc, over the blueprint, over the reasonable doubt, over albums after 2002, Illmatic is so graceful and beautiful it eclipses all these albums in only ten songs. But you did change the game bro.

    • SassyDog

      I agree! You can't just compare another rap album like Nas's illmatic. We are still talking about the album after 20 years. A rap album! On the change by Nas, I agree with him because at that time everyone had to step up there lyrical game because of illmatic and nas's flow! 94 was all about skillful story telling rhyming over any beat. Bad or good beat! Your rhyming skills had to be accepted by greater rappers at that time and nas made it even worst after illmatic. That is why Nas's illmatic received the 5 star treatment! Dude just went in too hard and now no one can reach it! It is celebrated across the world for it! Nas did change the game for Jay, Biggie and 2Pac. They knew it! Those guys are heavyweights! We just don't have albums or rap guys around like this anymore. We are still waiting! I am still banking on Kendrick Lamar though...

  • WhoMe

    Nas will always be the King! The other rappers just kiss the "F" ring and follow.

  • WWYD?

    I agree with the post below. Illmatic is overrated. 808s and heartbreak takes GOAT. 808s created legends like Drake and whoever is in the game post 08 #THETRUTH

  • Not Impressed

    The only ones who think Illmatic is "overated" are teenage kids who just started listening to hiphop and people in their early 20's. Illmatic doesn't have the pop-ish sounding beats and hooks that you've grown used to, so you say it's rated too high...It's really not, you're just too young and stupid to get it. I'm not impressed

  • Fuck Queensbridge

    He should be reluctant to live after reading the book "Nas Lost: A Tribute To The Little Homie".

  • Anonymous

    illmatic is a good album but it's fuckin overrated probably the most overrated album of all time

    • Anonymous

      To the guy that said "Nas did not change the game." That is completely false. There are plenty of artists that were influenced by Nas from newer artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, to Kanye West, to even Jay Z who sampled Nas' voice on dead presidents. People were certainly listening and are still listening to what he has to say and are basing their rap styles on his influence. So nice try there, but fail. (Note: The people you named are pioneers of the game, so they certainly changed the game, but to try and deny Nas' impact on the game is crazy.) Your thought of illmatic being overrated and "Reasonable Doubt, Enter the Wu Tang, Doggystyle, The Chronic, etc. [being] far ahead from Illmatic" is merely your opinion. In my own opinion, I feel that the album is not outshined by any of the ones you mentioned or that you can think of. Pretty much all of the people that have constructed those albums have commented and spoke on Nas' great artistry. You just have to go through and watch some interviews. Just because others and myself feel that the album is classic and one of the best, if not, the best rap albums of all time - That is our opinion! You can't generalize and say that everyone is sheep because their opinion differs from yours, that's just foolish.

    • Anonymous

      ^ You would be doing the same thing if someone was dissing your favorite rapper. Don't front.

    • Anonymous

      once again, when you do not agree with the stans, they pull the hate card

    • Anonymous

      Nas did not change the game Rakim, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap and Krs One change the game Nas just took from each one of these dudes and mixed it. Fuck outta here with Nas being the goat

    • Anonymous

      "Can't be overrated when it is celebrated across the World" you must confuse illmatic so called "20th celebration album" with the new year's eve, cause i did not see anyone in Europe celebrating this album 'just google Nas and learn! Dude shit is studied in colleges" Pac's lyrics are studied in college too so are Charles Manson criminal behavior Just because people act like fuckin sheep and say illmatic is the best album ever made does not mean they right. Once again, it's a good album, but it's fuckin OVERRATED. Reasonable Doubt, Enter the Wu Tang, Doggystyle, The Chronic, etc. are far ahead from Illmatic

    • Anonymous

      stans everywhere

    • Millie

      Can't be overrated when it is celebrated across the World. It means it stood the test of time like no other rap album. Illmatic is the greatest rap album. No other rap album will come close. Sorry but now that PAC and Big is gone and Jay has gone to pop it is a done deal. Sorry but crown the man's album and his lyrical ability. It is like no other rapper. Dude pen game is unheard of!

    • WhoMe

      You guys must be kids! I am done. Just google Nas and learn! Dude shit is studied in colleges. Now how can you "F" with that! Oh I forgot you guys never went to college! Freakin' retards! And the post about Drake below, really, you would listen to Drake with your girl. Sad! He is the yellow Keith Sweat of this era. GTFOOH! Rap music is called rap music not the singing of R&B! GTFOOH retard!

    • insanemacbeth

      "illmatic is a good album but it's fuckin overrated": is is that ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ prefer RAKIM's 'FOLLOW THE LEADER' album.

    • Anonymous

      enter the wu tang (36th chambers) > illmatic

    • Anonymous

      doggystyle and the chronic are waaaaaay better than illmatic

    • 3rdstreets

      some of the comments jus way damn..Clearly we have kids who think thy kno and understand rap without mentionin Nas..the knowledge.the politics,the religion is his music..i believe its college dropouts we havin here..Nas will make u pick that book and get the puzzle together,,

    • Anonymous

      Wtf u talking about ain't no one here mentioned Soulja Boy

    • MatFat

      Give us an album that is better Soulja Boy! Illmatic is gold plated. No album would stand a chance.

    • Anonymous

      This nigga said Maino LMAO

    • Janice Dickherson

      My fav Nas albums are Stillmatic, God's Son and It Was Written. Illmatic was a dope debut and definitely a dope album, but I find those 3 albums better than his first.

    • nasirjones

      definitely over rated..

    • Anonymous

      Lol for real, Maino THE KING OF BK could rap circles around Nas

    • NaS

      ...said no ever.

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