In honor of Esco’s 39th Birthday, we reflect on 39 random facts you possibly didn’t know about Nas
39. Although Nas was recently falsely accused of using a ghostwriter, he has been credited for writing rhymes for others in the past, most notably Will Smith for the huge hits “Gettin Jiggy with It and “Miami”
38. Nas reps QB, but he was born in Crown Heights Brooklyn.
37. In an interview with XXL Magazine back in 2003, Nas admitted that he cried when he heard Tupac dissing him on ‘Against All Odds’, in which Tupac raps “This little nigga name Nas think he live like me?”.
36. 2pac mistakenly believed Nas’ song ‘The Message’ was aimed at him. Nas has continuously denied those allegations, in-fact Nas has claimed some of the shots were directed at Biggie Smalls, not 2pac. Example: “There’s only one life, one love, so there can only be 1 King”
35. Legendary producer ‘Larger Professor’ helped Nas edit some songs off Illmatic. “He helped me because I only knew half of what was going on,” said Nas, to Mass Appeal back in 2002. “I knew about the pen touching the paper. Paul knew that too, but he also knew to tell me, ‘Don’t say this. Take that out. Why would you say this? That makes you look crazy! This word don’t make no sense.’” He taught me everything.”
34. Nas originally wanted 15 tracks on Illmatic, but once Columbia Records found over 60,000 bootleg copies of the album on the streets, they were forced to release Illmatic in April of 1994 with only 9 full songs and 1 Intro.
33. Nas first rap moniker was “Kid Wave’ before adopting his more commonly known alias of Nasty Nas.
32. The original cover of Illmatic was an artwork of Nas holding Jesus in a choke-hold, but for obvious reasons Columbia Records scrapped that idea and Nas went with a childhood picture for the album cover.
31. On the 2002 track “I Can” Nas was taking shots at Whitney Houston when he rapped ” I met a woman who’s becoming a star, She was very beautiful, leaving people in awe,Singing songs, Lena Horne, but the younger version, Hung with the wrong person, Got her strung off the heroin, Cocaine, sniffing up drugs, all in her nose Could’ve die So young, no, looks ugly and old”
30. When 2pac and Death Row were rumored to be in New York City at the 1996 MTV Awards, Nas called his childhood friend ‘Lakey The Kid’ for protection and over 100 people from Queensbridge accompanied Nas during his infamous showdown with Tupac at Bryant Park in NYC.
29. Nas was originally slated to release a double album in 1999 titled “I AM The Autobiography”, but the songs were heavily bootlegged and the album was sliced in half to form a solo album called “I Am”. Some tracks were on an album he released months later called “Nastradamus”. A few others were released in 2002 as part of the “Lost Tapes” album.
28. Nas Wanted To Sample “Juicy Fruit” Before Biggie, but his producer L.E.S. didn’t have that song at the time so he brought The Gap Band’s “Yearning for Your Love” and looped that up instead. That tracked turned out to be “Life’s a Bitch”
27. Many believed Nas subliminally dissed Fabolous on his 2003 unreleased track “One Never Knows” in which Nas raps “I’m the rebel to America , less is the nasal voice Chipped tooth bastard, What your hearing is a Replica, I never had a Clue , that all you dudes should be in dresses”. Fabolous was introduced to the game by DJ Clue, was known to rock jerseys and had a chipped tooth.
26. Busta Rhymes once told XXL that Large Professor made the beat that would later become “Halftime” in front of him. Busta eventually declined the beat but told XXL “I heard it on ‘Halftime,’ and I was like, Goddamn, I was a stupid ass for not touching this beat!”
25. In 1999 Nas threw shots at Jay Z on his Biggie Smalls tribute track ‘We Will Survive’ in which he raps “These niggas is wrong using your name in vein and they claim to be New York’s King, it ain’t about that”
24. ‘Stretch’, the Queens rapper who was a member of the ‘Live Squad’ and former friend of 2pac produced the legendary track “The Message” that appeared on Nas’ album It Was Written’.
23. The beef with 50 Cent began when Irv Gotti pressured Columbia Records to replace 50 Cent with Nas on the 2002 collaboration track with Jennifer Lopez called “Gonna Be Alright”. 50 who appeared on the original version took offense to the fact that Nas didn’t notify him ahead of time about getting replaced.
22. Camron dissed Nas on his 2002 “Hate Me Now’ freestyle, but what got Nas’ attention was the fact that Camron insulted his mother, who had passed away from cancer just weeks prior. Camron rapped “your Mom’s a whip wop head, and you claim to be a hip-hop head? Camron apologized a few weeks later on Hot 97 claiming he didn’t know Nas’ mother had passed.
21. Biggie Smalls also aimed some shots at Nas on his song “Kick In The Door” in which Biggie raps “Your reign on top was short like Leprechauns”. Nas confirmed the diss on his 2002 track “Last Real Nigga Alive” in which Nas raps “Who you thought ‘Kick In The Door’ was for?”
20. Ghostface Killah accused Biggie Smalls of jacking Nas’ album cover for Illmatic on the 1995 skit “Shark Niggas” but Nas wasn’t fazed by it.
19. In 2002, Nas called Black Thought and the Roots ‘Sambos, Porch Monkeys and confused rap artists during an interview with Angie Martinez of Hot 97. Nas also took offense to the fact that the Roots played the instrumentals for the diss track “Takeover” by Jay Z for his MTV Unplugged performance.
18. Nas originally ghostwrote the song “Hate Me Now” for Foxy Brown, but she declined the track and Nas re-wrote a few lines and kept the song for himself.
17. Nas has never won a Grammy, MTV, American Music, BET, or World Music Award.
16. Nas recorded a track with the Dogg Pound back in 1995 for their album ‘Dogg Food’, but Suge Knight for unknown reasons refused to release the song. The song “Don’t Stop, Keep Goin’ was eventually released in 2004 on the “Last of the Pound album by the Dogg Pound.
15. Although Nas claimed he dropped out of Cooley High on his legendary track “Memory Lane”, Nas never actually got the chance, as he dropped out of School in the 8th grade.
14. P.Diddy was upset when he heard his name on Nas’ song “Purple” in which Nas rapped “I don’t like the way P.Diddy did Shyne with different lawyers”. Although Diddy was upset, Nas laughed it off, according to his 2004 interview with XXL.
13. The name “Nasir” in Arabic translates to “helper” or “one who gives victory”
12. The original version for ‘It Ain’t Hard to Tell’ was called “Nas Will Prevail”
11. From 1996 up to their battle in 2001, Jay Z had name dropped Nas over 10 times in his songs, Nas felt Jay Z had an unhealthy borderline obsession with him.
10. Rakim wasn’t thrilled when he heard Nas’ tribute song “The Unauthorized Biography of Rakim” (Watch Below)
9. It took Nas only 1 take to finish his classic song ‘New York State of Mind’
8. Nas penned the majority of Illmatic when he was just 17 to 18 years old.
7. Tupac’s crew The Outlawz took offense to Mobb Deep & Nas 1999 song “It’s Mine”, in which they rap “Yall need to give it up, cuz we don’t give a fuck, Thug Life is Mine”. That song triggered E.D.I. Mean of the Outlawz to say “Oh Thug Life is Yours?, We gonna see about that” on an episode of BET’s Rap City.
6. Nas co-owns the popular ‘Rock The Bells’ concert series.
5. Nas was the first Non-Wu affiliate to appear on a Wu Tang album. Nas appeared on the legendary 1995 track “Verbal Intercourse” off Raekwon’s album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”
4. Nas co-wrote the screenplay for the 1998 movie ‘Belly’ in which he starred in alongside DMX.
3. Nas was the first New York rapper to appear on a track with Dr Dre, for his 1996 song “Nas is Coming
2. Russell Simmons passed on signing Nas to Def Jam back in 1993 because he feared Nas would be a commercial flop. Nas later rhymed about the encounter on the song “Surviving The Times” where he said he was compared to Kool G Rap, “Russell said I sounded like G, the nigga fronted.”
1. Nas is the first, and only solo artist to receive two 5 Mic ratings from the Source Magazine, for his albums “Illmatic and Stillmatic”