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Unpacking the Impact of Nas: The Greatest Storyteller in Hip-Hop History

Introduction to Nas

Hip-hop has been a genre of music that has undergone so many transformations since its inception in the 1970s. However, few hip-hop artists have made a significant impact on the game like the rap legend, Nas.

Nasir Jones, who goes by his stage name ‘Nas’, is one of the most influential and successful rappers of all time. He gained recognition in the early 1990s for his exceptional lyrical prowess and authentic storytelling skills that touched on social issues, cultural commentary, and personal struggles.

Nas’s Background and Influence on Hip-Hop

Nas was born on September 14, 1973, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Growing up in Queensbridge, Nas experienced firsthand the harsh realities of life in a low-income community in New York City.

As a result, he used his lyrics to reflect on the negative social, economic, and political conditions that threatened the prospects and well-being of young Black men. Nas first gained national recognition in 1991 when he appeared on the song “Live at the Barbeque” by Main Source.

His verse was one of the most memorable of the era, showcasing his raw lyricism and undeniably impressive rhyming ability. This led

to Nas receiving a record deal with Columbia Records, allowing him to release his debut album “Illmatic” in 1994.

Nas’s lyrical dexterity and storytelling skills set him apart from his peers in the mid-1990s, and over the years, he has proven to be a true thought-provoking poet. With his ability to paint vivid pictures of life in the ghetto, Nas’s music resonates with fans across the world.

He has influenced countless artists, including Jay-Z, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole, all of whom have openly acknowledged their admiration for him.

Nas’s Debut Album Illmatic and its Impact

“Illmatic” is arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, and it stands as a timeless classic that is a representation of an era forever gone. This album helped redefine what a hip-hop album should sound like, and it highlighted the struggles of young Black men in the inner-city in a way that was unapologetically raw and honest.

One of the tracks that stand out from the album is “N.Y. State of Mind.” The track begins with a haunting beat that sets the stage for Nas’s lyrical tour de force. He paints a grim picture of life in Queensbridge and the struggles that he and his peers dealt with on a daily basis.

“Life’s a Bitch” featuring AZ and “

The World Is Yours” are examples of other tracks that speak to the harsh realities of life in the ghetto, while also conveying a sense of hope and resilience. Nas’s Continued Success in the Industry

After the success of “Illmatic,” Nas continued to deliver outstanding albums.

Each album that followed had its own unique style, but all of them showcased his lyrical mastery. “It Was Written” (1996) was a commercial success that saw Nas switch to more radio-friendly sounds.

“Stillmatic” (2001) marked the return of the lyrical genius after a few missteps. Nas continued to release albums such as “Hip Hop Is Dead” (2006), which saw him tackling social issues head-on, and “Nasir” (2018), which he collaborated with Kanye West.

Nas has always been outspoken about social issues, and his music is more than just a reflection of the struggles of the inner city. He has been a voice for marginalized communities, and his music has served as a platform to highlight issues such as police brutality, racism, and economic inequality.

It Ain’t Hard to Tell

“It Ain’t Hard to Tell” is one of Nas’s most iconic tracks and is considered one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time. The song features a sample from Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and was produced by Large Professor.

It was the last single off his debut album, further solidifying his place in the pantheon of great hip-hop acts. The song’s musical elements are rich and varied, with a melody that bounces effortlessly off a jazzy beat.

Nas’s flow is soulful and poetic, with a masterful command of the language. “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” showcases Nas’s raw depiction of life, making him a master wordsmith and one of the greatest storytellers in hip-hop history.


Nas is a true icon of hip-hop music, with a talent that transcends time and all geographical boundaries. His influence continues to shape the sound and style of new artists as hip-hop continues to evolve.

The impact of “Illmatic” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” has cemented his place as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Nas’s style is lyrical and thought-provoking, and his music touches on topics that are socially relevant and culturally significant.

He has left an indelible mark in hip-hop history that will continue to inspire generations of fans and musicians alike.

The World Is Yours

If there is one thing that Nas does best, it’s painting vivid pictures with his lyrics and telling stories that draw the listener in. “

The World Is Yours” is a prime example of Nas’s unparalleled ability to craft a narrative and leave the listener mesmerized.

The song is a testament to his upbringing in Queens, New York, and his experiences growing up in the inner-city. The opening lyrics, “I sip the Dom P watching Gandhi till I’m charged,” set the tone for the song and showcase Nas’s storytelling ability.

Drawing inspiration from the movie Scarface, Nas uses the line “The world is yours” as a way of conveying that anything is possible, no matter how dire your situation might be. He uses descriptive language and imagery to transport the listener to the vivid landscape of Queensbridge, and the hustle and vibrant street life that Nas and his friends were a part of.

The impact of “

The World Is Yours” has been felt far beyond hip-hop. It has become synonymous with ambition and success, inspiring people from all walks of life to strive for greatness.

Jay-Z famously sampled the song on his classic track “Dead Presidents II,” showcasing the enduring influence of Nas and the timeless nature of his music.

One Mic

One Mic” is a song that encapsulates Nas’s raw, introspective, and rallying style. The song begins with a chilling intro that sets the tone for what’s to come.

Nas’s lyrics highlight the struggles of the inner-city and the violence that occurs every day on the streets. The message of the song is simple: you don’t need a lot of noise to make yourself heard; sometimes, the most impactful messages come from the smallest of details.

The delivery of Nas’s lyrics, coupled with the haunting instrumental, creates a sense of urgency and power that is hard to ignore. He spits his lyrics with such ferocity that you can almost feel the pain and frustration he is trying to communicate.

As the song progresses, Nas’s rallying cry becomes more apparent, urging his listeners to rise up and become the agents of change in their communities. The impact of “

One Mic” has been long-lasting, and it continues to be one of Nas’s most iconic songs.

The song’s message and delivery have inspired countless young people to rise up and fight for their beliefs. At its core, “

One Mic” is a song about taking ownership of one’s life, standing up to oppression, and taking action to effect change.

It remains a timeless masterpiece that will continue to inspire generations to come.


Nas’s impact on hip-hop music is undeniable, and his unique style has helped shape the genre as we know it today. From his unparalleled storytelling ability to his raw lyrics and introspective messages, Nas’s music has inspired and touched the lives of many.

The World Is Yours” and “

One Mic” are just two examples of Nas’s timeless classics that continue to resonate with fans across the world. Through his unique perspective on life in the inner-city, Nas has shone a light on the hard realities of the ghetto, highlighting the social ills that continue to plague marginalized communities.

His ability to communicate complex ideas with devastating simplicity is a testament to the power of hip-hop as an art form. Whether he’s talking about social justice, love, or loss, Nas has a way of making the listener feel seen and heard.

In conclusion, Nas remains an iconic figure in hip-hop, and his influence will continue to shape the genre for years to come. His music is an enduring legacy that serves as a reminder of the power of storytelling and the impact of one person’s voice.


When it comes to innovation and creativity in hip-hop music, few artists come close

to Nas. With his track “

Rewind,” Nas proved that he was a master of the craft and that he wasn’t afraid to experiment with new concepts.

The song tells the story of a drug deal gone wrong, with Nas rapping the narrative backward, starting at the end and working his way to the beginning. Nas’s lyrical craftsmanship on “

Rewind” is unparalleled.

The song’s backward narrative adds a unique layer to the already creative storytelling, making it stand out as one of Nas’s most memorable tracks. He takes the listener on a journey through his childhood memories, painting a vivid picture of every detail.

In interviews, Nas has spoken about his creative process for the song. According to him, he committed the entire song to memory before he even wrote it down.

Once he had it memorized, he started writing it backward and then rehearsed it until it was perfect. This attention to detail and commitment to excellence is one of the reasons why Nas remains one of the greatest rappers of all time.

Got Ur Self A

Got Ur Self A” is a hard-hitting track that speaks to the harsh realities of life as a New York hustler. The song’s main theme is about survival and the lengths that these hustlers go through to make it happen.

Nas’s delivery on the track is unapologetic, showcasing the wittiness and gritty realness that he is known for. The song’s production is also noteworthy, with a sample from the classic 1971 film and soundtrack, “Shaft in Africa,” notable for its horn section and driving bassline.

It creates an atmosphere of intensity and urgency, adding to the song’s overall message of hustle and survival. Nas’s uniqueness on the track lies in his unyielding and raw delivery.

He speaks to the streets in a way that few artists can, and his powerful voice commands attention. Once again, Nas highlights his talent as a storyteller, taking the listener on a journey through his world and leaving no detail out.


Nas remains a one-of-a-kind artist, and his music continues to inspire and impact people across the world. With songs like “

Rewind” and “

Got Ur Self A,” Nas has showcased his unmatched skills as a storyteller, displaying his commitment to innovation and unique style.

His storytelling ability shines through in every track, from his vivid descriptions of life in the ghetto to his unyielding opposition to social injustice. Nas’s unique delivery, powerful voice, and wittiness have earned him a place as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

His music is an anthem for the struggles of young African Americans in the inner-city. Through his lyrics, he portrays the harsh realities of street life, but he also offers hope and inspiration to those who want to make a better life for themselves.

In conclusion, Nas is a legend in hip-hop, and his contributions to the genre have helped shape it into what we know today. His music is a testament to the power of storytelling, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of musicians to come.


With “

Daughters,” Nas showcases a personal vulnerability rarely seen in hip-hop. The song recounts the complexities of fatherhood and the struggles of raising a daughter in a world that seems to constantly bring up new challenges.

Nas draws upon his personal experiences as a father to convey a poignancy and honesty that few artists in any genre can match. The song starts with Nas recounting his experiences as a father, reflecting on the times when he wasn’t there for his daughter.

He talks about the challenges of raising a daughter, and how societal pressures can sometimes make it difficult for fathers to connect with their children. He also takes a critical look at societal issues such as domestic violence and harmful beauty standards perpetuated by social media.

The importance of the song’s message lies in Nas’s willingness to be vulnerable and honest about the struggles that come with fatherhood. He doesn’t shy away from the difficulties but instead offers a message of hope and encouragement to other fathers.

He reminds them that although fatherhood may be challenging, there is no greater reward than nurturing and supporting their children. N.Y. State Of Mind

“I don’t know how to start this shit,” Nas begins on “N.Y. State of Mind,” one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time.

From that moment on, he takes the listener on a journey through the gritty streets of New York City, painting a vivid and haunting portrait of the city’s unforgiving reality. In just five minutes, Nas displays his unmatched storytelling skills, making him one of the greatest storytellers in the history of hip-hop.

The song’s stark imagery and storytelling set it apart from other hip-hop tracks of the era. Nas captures the essence of the inner-city youths and the challenges that they face every day.

His depiction of the New York street life is raw and unflinching, showcasing the darker side of urban existence. The haunting sample and ominous production only add to the song’s grittiness and foreboding nature.

Nas’s legacy in hip-hop is deeply rooted in his ability to tell compelling stories that touch upon important issues. “N.Y. State of Mind” epitomizes Nas’s style and has garnered critical acclaim from fans and critics alike.

The song has become a cultural touchstone, with many citing it as one of the greatest hip-hop tracks of all time.


Nas is a rare talent in hip-hop, known for his powerful storytelling and unmatched lyrical ability. With songs like “

Daughters” and “N.Y. State of Mind,” he has captured the complexities of fatherhood and painted vivid pictures of the harsh realities of urban life.

His music is a testament to the power of storytelling and how it can be used to bring attention to important societal issues. In “

Daughters,” Nas showcases his vulnerability and deals with societal pressures that many fathers face every day.

His willingness to be honest about the complexities of fatherhood is refreshing and offers a message of hope to fathers everywhere. “N.Y. State of Mind,” on the other hand, showcases Nas’s ability to transport the listener to the gritty streets of New York City.

The song stands as a testament

to Nas’s legacy as one of hip-hop’s greatest storytellers. In conclusion, Nas’s impact on hip-hop cannot be overstated.

He has left an indelible mark on the genre through his powerful storytelling abilities and unique style. As a result, his influence will continue to shape hip-hop for generations to come.

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