Nas reflects on his latest album in a new interview with NPR, where he discusses opening up about his personal life and more.
He talks about all the personal content on his new album and why he decided to open up, his record with Amy Winehouse, starting to rap and more. Check out some excerpts from the interview below.
I'm wondering why you decided to open up so much about your personal life on this record. You exposed yourself in ways that you haven't in the past.
In the past I had to deal with issues that hit me as a younger man. As a man who wasn't married who didn't really have the experience that I have now. Today I'm a different guy. Obviously, I'm older. I've been through a lot more. The strongest subject matter that I was writing about was more about me and growing up.
If every rap album is about how you came up in the hood and how you had to make it out of the hood — I'm 38 now; this is my 10th album. I wouldn't want to hear someone be around for a long time talking about the same thing. I want to get to know this person; I want to hear the artist. I want to hear them give me something that I can relate to, other than the fact that everything's about bragging. So today, if I made an album just to sell you a story about how I'm the man, it really doesn't show any human side to me. It's good to talk about what's real and what's relevant.
That song [with Amy Winehouse "Cherry Wine"] is about that elusive thing which is finding the perfect person, the perfect partner — something that has eluded you as well.
Well, I thought that I found one, and I don't know, bro. I'm messed up out here, man. I got the opportunity to meet people all over the world. Brilliant women, tall women, short women, slim women, thick women, you name it. But, I don't meet them. I have the opportunities to and it's a little bit — I'm a little shy, so I don't meet them and I don't know who's right for me. I looked at people like Harry Belafonte — he's been married like three times; Richard Pryor — he's been married like five times. So many affluent men are faced with finding love problems. I'm sure beautiful, affluent women are faced with the same things sometimes. Halle Berry can't seem to get a break, you know what I'm saying? So, it's just something that I don't know if we'll ever figure out. I hope I do while I'm here.
When did you sit down and put pen to paper and just start writing your ideas down?
Maybe around 9, 10.
Was that unusual? Did anybody in your family sort of say, "Oh there's Nasir again, sitting in his room writing words down?"
Yeah, all the time. I used to keep a dictionary and work with it and then I realized there are more words that exist in the English language than there are in this dictionary. I need a bigger dictionary. Why? How come they don't have every word? And then I was like, "Wait, it's impossible for one book to have every word." So that means you have to buy multiple dictionaries. I fell in love with words and I think that made my mom smile. I think that was cool for her.
When you sit down to think about rhyme schemes, how do you construct them?
I want to sound like an instrument. I want my voice and my words to marry the beat. I go with the rhythm of it and the words start to come to my mind and those words could be based on things that's been on my mind for the past year, the past month, the past week, whatever, I write it. And they just come. It comes to me.
Read the full interview here.