On the UK leg of NaS‘ recent tour, SoulCulture TV took a road trip up to Manchester to speak to the legendary emcee about his latest album, Life Is Good; out today (in the UK) through Def Jam. After performing for the Academy crowd, Nas discussed the energy behind the album and his hopes for it to inspire artists, shared his thoughts on commercial distractions in the rap game, Damian Marley‘s influence on his live shows and more.
Life Is Good
“I feel good about life so everything I do is feeling right,” Nas says. “The music, the album – it’s all about feeling good, feeling life and expressing yourself. I didn’t have to think… Life Is Good just flowed out of me the way it wanted to come out.”
“I’ve been in the record game so long I feel like I had to tap back into my foundation – the sound that represents me – and that sound is not the sound you hear around you… ‘Nasty’ was to let you know, get ready for the sound to feel like when you first started hearing me – get ready for that feeling.”
We don’t chase pop, pop chases us
“I just don’t understand when you get commercial success and then you think that’s all you are. When you come from something else, at first that’s a great sound too – bring it to that, don’t go backwards. But go forward and remind yourself; go back to your ABCs. Because this thing is bigger than us as individuals, so go back to the individual in you that loved this thing.”
“I can’t listen to a lot of stuff today because I know there’s a goal behind it, to tell me to be a popstar. Why do you care? We don’t chase pop, pop chases us. And when you do it like that you can shift the game. So I’m here to inspire.”
“I want to inspire all artists with this new album. Somebody that’s great at what they do in this game can hold on to what they do and then still balance the commercial side. That’s greatness… Some people can do it by making the sound easier for fans to listen to everywhere, without losing themselves. And some people can do it without changing anything – just stay them, sorta like Adele did – some people can just stay them and still become ‘the biggest thing’. That’s what I mean by ‘make pop chase you’.
“I listen to the rap business and everybody’s claiming to be a real emcee, or they this or they that, but then they doing stuff that people from our community don’t listen to. I understand that; I’ll probably do a commercial record on the next album, I might make the whole damn thing commercial [but] in my way – but this album, I feel good to be here. I have to respect that and celebrate that.”
“I’ve been it doing for years so obviously there’s people that’s gonna feel like I’ve affected their life with the music… I’m just a vessel, and it just flows. I don’t want all the credit.”
He adds, “I want some credit – but I don’t want all the credit. It comes from a different place and I’m just happy to be that vessel and live my life. It’s an incredible thing when you’re able to make music – and that’s the only blessing I’m happy about right now; just the fact that I’m even able to make music. I thank God for that.”
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