Throughout the years, rappers have battled for the mic to see who could be named the king of rap and competing to see who’s the best in the game through their tough lyrical rhymes. Rap is recognized worldwide and has had a huge influence on the music that exists today, guiding different genres through a path and paving the way to what they are today. Today, many people believe that all rap kings such as Biggie, Tupac, and Eazy-e, are gone but in reality, people are too blind to recognize that a king still stands to hold on to the throne. This king goes by the name of Nas, This king first started with his debut album, Illmatic. His distinctive lyrics and stories are heavily slept on; they’ve never received enough recognition and clout. Illmatic is an album packed with some of the best lyrics and storytelling to ever hit a studio, and they scarcely thump on speakers throughout the east and west coast.
But he doesn’t just rhyme and tell stories: he uses unique intellectual vocabulary to join some of the greatest and most intriguing rhymes ever created, he talks about struggles, and about the violence that happened during this period. For instance in It Was Written, another album by him, he speaks on the pain and violence that guns cause on his track “I Gave You Power”.
On his debut album, Illmatic, the song “One Love,” which is one of the most famous tracks on this album, skews onto a different, yet unique direction as Nas writes his rhymes in the form of letters to friends serving time in prison. As the beat goes on, the letters are read and are transformed into mellow raps. This song takes you into the life of Lakey da kid and Born as they read the letters from inside prison and are caught up in circumstances that are going on while their inside. In the last verse of this song, you are transported into the song and live in the moment of Nas and Shorty Doo-Wop conversing, while smoking at the park, leaving a stained illustration of this scene in your mind. This last chorus makes you feel like you stepped through a time machine and into a different —the 90’s hip-hop— era.
Nas is one of the few artists that can truly make you feel like you are in the scene being described in the song and living in that moment. In addition to his mesmerizing lyrics and transfixing storytelling, Nas also raps about his past life by spitting rhymes about it in his song “Memory lane.”In this song he sings, “My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses, live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real,” explaining events that he has seen and his troubled life without any peace.
On top of that, Nas also raps about an issue that occurs in most neighborhoods and still stands today, gun violence. In track #2, Nas addresses how firearms have become a problem. “Got younger n****s pulling the triggers, bringing fame to their name, and claim some corners, crews without guns are goners,” Nas says, this comes to show that he is speaking up on a problem that has evolved to be a life or death situation, where guns are essential for survival.
Aside from all his different type of rapping, he also has deep lyrics that he tries to relate to the young audience he has, that have lived or live a life in the hood. In his song “Life’s A B****,” Nas expresses the struggle of life in the hood and being broke. He relates to the demographics of his listeners who have been in the same situation through this music. Nas exclaims “That buck that bought a bottle could have struck the lotto, Once I stood on the block. Loose cracks produce stacks,” reaching out to people who have lived on the block hustling and sharing a relatable story.
Throughout the rest of his songs on the Illmatic album Nas spits freely and just flows through beats giving off a chill vibe. For these very reasons Nas still holds the throne of rap til this day. Throughout many of his singles such as “Deja Vu” and, and other albums like life is good, Nas continues to relate, reach, or intrigue his audience in one way or another and that is the exact reason why he is the most underrated king that still stands to rule the rap game.