Throughout the history of Hip Hop, few lyricists have offered more intricacy, honesty and skill than Nasir Jones. It should come as no surprise that Harvard University now offers a fellowship in the Queensboro legend’s name, and has begun working with the rapper to break down his lyrics.

In conversation with poetry professor Elisa New, Nas discussed the lyrics of his track “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” from his revered 1994 debut album Illmatic, which is one of the first albums selected for the Hip Hop archive at Harvard’s library. Professor New was particularly interested in lines such as “Wisdom leaks from my grapefruit, troop,” and “I dominate break loops.”

Explaining the origins of his style, Nas spoke on the nature of different language emerging from the different neighborhoods of New York City.

HipHopDX | Rap & Hip Hop News | Ad Placeholder



“Before there was rap music, there was this different way of using the English language. Certain neighborhoods spin the words around different than others. Italian say different things, Irish say different things, Jamaicans, forget about it. They’ve got a whole different way of spinning words around.”

“Everything is rhythm, everything is always moving everything. The world’s always rotating, nothing ain’t still. So, you know, I talk from that point of view. That language around my neighborhood…”

Watch the conversation in full below: