Nas speaks on the direction he's taking on his upcoming 11th studio album, as well as some of the rumored collaborations.
2012's Life Is Good was well-received by fans and critics alike, and despite being released almost 20 years after his classic debut, still stands as one of the rapper's strongest efforts. Following the success of the project, the anticipation has grown for its follow-up, though Nas has remained fairly tight-lipped about the record.
Read some choice excerpts from the sit-down below.
Next year will mark the 20-year anniversary of the release of "Illmatic." Are there any special plans underway to commemorate the milestone?
We’re putting together a concert. And I think we’re going to do something with the album and repackage it with special stuff. I think that’s in the works.
Earlier this year you initially planned to unveil the title to your next album. What has been the cause of the delay?
I got a little busy, and I wasn’t sure it was really a real fit for the record. It felt like I came up with it too easy. And I like that because “Life Is Good” came up on its own. It just popped in my head. So the next title came up in a similar way, but it was probably too early.
Thus far, how is the album shaping up in terms of its direction?
With “Life Is Good” it felt like hip hop needed an album to help steer the direction of the sound and the rest of the albums that were coming out that year. Or to re-encourage the ones that were working to say, “It’s ok to make a hip hop album.” And that was my goal with that. And I think I accomplished that. I think after that I saw a nice sharp turn for the better in rap albums. So that mission is completed.
With this record, ah man … It’s the next chapter in myself as a writer. I’m really excited about every new leaf I turn. Every new endeavor. I’m excited about that and all the potential that comes with everything new that I do. And all my ideas can come to fruition. And that excites me, because there’s no limits to what I can do, in terms of trying to be an inspiration. I just want to do well for the listeners out there. Do well for the whole genre. So I’m excited.
One particular track off the album that has piqued fans' interest is,“Sinatra In The Sands,” featuring Justin Timberlake and Jay Z. What was the recording process like?
Excitement... Excitement to work and be in the place that we’re all are at, musically. Those are the guys who lasted the test of time, and those guys are at the top of their game. They’re just company to be in. So that’s the whole vibe of that. And of course the title says it all.
Lyrically, where are you taking fans on the track?
More like from a musician’s stand point, someone who’ve been around. Because Sinatra has been around and he has a long, long standing with the stage and the audience for years. And he evolved. His talent got better just like wine. And I think that’s something a lot of people want to achieve. So that’s what this song is really about. Striving to be the best you, like Sinatra had become.
In recent weeks you’ve been photographed in the studio with Mariah Carey and Jermaine Dupri. Will the collaboration appear on your album?
That’s on her album, and it’s a banger! I was excited to get back in the studio with her. She’s one of the greatest voices of our generation. She’s on another level. Just working with an artist that big really shows me how much further I can go. I’ve been inspired just sitting there talking to her. She’s very smart and extremely talented. And I’m just happy to work with her again.