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Nas talks recording “Stillmatic” and “Hip Hop is Dead”

By The Hip Hop Writer
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer

December has proven to be a good month for Nas, over the years. Ten years ago, in December, Nas released his classic comeback album, Stillmatic. Five years ago, also in December, Nas released another comeback album, Hip Hop is Dead. Through the release of his 2006 album, Nas began to turn heads. The quality of hip hop music had been on a rapid decline, but no one commented until Nas did. From there, a discussion was started which still continues to this day.

During his interview with XXL, Nas discussed his 2001 and 2006 albums, respectively. When asked about Stillmatic, Nas revealed he did not pay attention to the hip hop terms he brought to life. On his Jay-Z-diss, “Ether,” Nas calls Jay-Z a “Stan,” after the Eminem song. “Ether” gave birth to two terms, both “ethered,” when a rapper is severely dissed, and “Stan,” an obscessed hip hop fan.

A year before the release of Hip Hop is Dead, Nas and Jay-Z made history when they decided to end their feud, publicly. On Nas’ 2006 album, he featured a collaboration with Jay-Z and signed to Def Jam, while his former rival was running the label. Even after Jay-Z left Def Jam, he and Nas have continued to work together. When asked about their feud, Nas said he and Jay-Z have never discussed it. Nas said people who have been in the game as long as he and Jay-Z do not focus on things such as beef, they are instead grateful to still be relevant in the game.

Hip Hop is Dead was one of Nas’ most-important albums for various reasons. The song opens with the same sample of “Thief’s Theme,” from his previous album. When asked about using the same sample, Nas said it was a part of his joke properly saying “hip hop is dead” and he proved it by using the same sample. The album also featured Game rapping over a Dr. Dre beat after he had been ousted from Aftermath Entertainment. Nas and Dr. Dre worked together on The Firm project, in 1996, and had not worked together since. The Queens rapper said he had to basically hound Dr. Dre to make the collaboration happen, but once it did, things turned out fantastic.

Both Stillmatic and Hip Hop is Dead are received as classic albums from Nas, both helping to redefine hip hop as it was known at the time. Nas is planning on releasing his tenth studio album, Life is Good, next year. This summer, Nas released the first single from the album, “Nasty.”

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