Life lessons from hip-hop’s biggest wildcard EVER, Nas.
Nas’ immortal Illmatic turns 20 this April, and to celebrate, the prophet is releasing a special anniversary edition of the classic, complete with rare and unreleased material.
Also, Nas was asked to play the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. From Queensbridge to the capital with a live orchestra. It’s been a long, strange ride for Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. Let’s look at five lessons from his life that reverberate across humanity.
“Planets in orbit, line ‘em up with the stars / Tarot cards, you can see the pharaoh Nas”
This is the depth and magnitude of knowledge you’re dealing with here. You’re literally keeping the universe in place by following this advice.
1. Eternal relevance is achieved through immortal skill.
No matter how old you get or how many miles are stuck on your lifedometer, it matters not. As Nas has shown throughout his timelessness, all you need is to master one skill, and you will be relevant forever.
The world could be populated by rapbots with advanced technological flows that make Eminem sound like Too Short, and it wouldn’t matter. Nas would still be a revered master of the craft.
It’s all about process, and never results. From his parents’ porch popping shit to tropical continents, Nas kept one thing constant: rhyming. While his style and success have changed drastically throughout his career, his passion and pursuit of rap perfection have never wavered.
2. If you go at the king, you best not miss.
At the turn of the century, Nas and Jay Z began feuding, in part due to natural selection, in part due to their respective accomplices, Prodigy and Memphis Bleek. On Jay’s first album he’d sampled Nas’ voice, because he was using it wrong. What at one point might have been a collaborative relationship soured, and quickly became a war for control of NYC.
The winner is still argued over, but the results can’t be. Jay went on to become an artistic and commercial juggernaut, and Nas went through a long period of struggles in both his personal and professional life.
When you try to dominate your competition, you run the risk of backlash, which Nas got in a big way.
3. Rise from the ashes.
Permanent defeat is something you decide to give into. Nas was dealt crushing blows financially, professionally and through his much publicized divorce from Kelis.
But he never let it get him down, and he never stopped striving to achieve greatness. Two of his best records in a rich, incredible career are 2006′s Hip Hop is Dead and 2012′s Life is Good. They show an evolved, mature leader still capable of saying things that no one else can.
Nas isn’t just a pharaoh, he is a phoenix of truth, justice and rap wisdom.
4. Invest in the future.
Nas is an investor in Rap Genius, the startup that is attempting to annotate all texts in human history. They utilize real rappers to do some of the annotations, because who would know their meanings better?
Nas’ ability to recognize the potential in a company like Rap Genius shows his foresight and breadth of skill. He’s not just a rapper, he’s a business impresario. You can, too, if you do what it do.
5. Wait for the world to embrace you.
Through years of flirting with obscurity, label issues and the misconception that he was a lost genius and no longer one of the greatest, Nas persevered.
Now he’s being honored at Harvard, Kennedy Center, Citi Field and around the globe. Not even former rival Jay Z can deny his greatness, and the two collaborate and take comfort in each others’ companionship.
Not many people know what it’s like to be the best at what they do, so their appreciation for each others’ work has aged like a fine Bordeaux.
Learn from this, and internalize it. It might just save your life.
Originally appeared at Elite Daily
Photo Elite Daily
About the author: Doran Miller-Rosenberg. Doran is a Brooklyn native and a graduate of SUNY Purchase. As a journalist with musical omnipotence, he has covered rap, politics, sports and pop culture for a wide variety of outlets including Lost Lettermen, Brooklyn Fans, Société Perrier, USA Today and now Elite Daily.