In an interview with VIBE, the two emcees spoke about what the comparison mean to them.
Nas explained that he didn’t pay too much attention to the comparisons. “I wanted to make my own opinion,” he said. “I was like, let’s hear what he’s saying. He’s his own man, and I listened to it from that point of view. I wasn’t looking for me in him.”
“I been inspired by tons of people; he’s been inspired by tons of people,” continued the New York emcee. “When we do what we do, we sound like us. To me, Cole sounds like Cole. There can be some things I listen to and I wonder if I inspired that or if it’s something I would’ve thought of or would’ve tried to rhyme or whatever, but that’s him. That’s a great compliment that there’s someone who likes what I do—because this dude is nice, so you’re bigging me up.”
Cole admitted that Nas was a huge influence for him, but added that Nas wasn’t his only Rap blueprint. “Shit, it’s like of course you’re gonna see hints because that shit in my DNA. I studied him so much, it’s always gonna spill out some way. But it’s a lotta niggas in my DNA, just like there’s a lot in him. You see Kobe do a fade-away and you be like, ‘Okay, that’s Jordan.’ There’s hints of everybody in these guys’ game, but what makes me my own man, what makes him his own man is that we develop. You gravitate towards what you like. I studied Eminem; he wasn’t studying Eminem. He was studying niggas that Eminem was studying, so he already had his DNA settled.”
The interview also addressed lyricism in 2013, and whether it is experiencing a “renaissance” period.
“It’s heading into another golden era,” claimed Cole, who compared the difference between the current Hip Hop landscape and that of 2006, when Nas released a controversial album. “It might not be there just yet, but it’s getting there. Look at the options you got right now. I remember around the time Hip Hop Is Dead was coming out, I knew why you was saying it. Rap was a fucking joke. It was a singles-driven market. But even when I was unsigned, I knew with what I was doing that this was gon’ turn around.”
“I didn’t know at the same time that Kendrick was somewhere studying, going hard,” said Cole of K. Dot, a contemporary who released a verse going at a slew of emcees (including Cole) on Big Sean’s “Control.” “Drake was somewhere studying, going hard. Niggas is getting back to caring about rapping again. And really taking this shit seriously, clowning niggas that’s wack. There’s a real divided line of niggas that can rap and niggas that just can’t. And you can get your money and it’s all good. We still respect you and we gon’ play your song. But when you look at these guys, way different.”