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Nas Rapper


In 2002 Nas reflected, "I make money from what I do, and it's God's gift. I didn't get in the business just to make a million or two billion overnight. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't care. I just love the music and enjoying my life at the same time. I love rap more than being a star in rap." Since his landmark solo debut, 1994's Illmatic (recently reissued in a commemorative 10th anniversary 2 CD set), Nas has been a star, yet, more importantly, he's been a lyrical standard-setter and visionary. For over 10 years, Nas has steadfastly elevated his game, broadened his perspective and refused to allow success to mute his revolutionary message of faith, the streets, family, retribution, intelligence and rap's ultimate power. Now two years after the seminal God's Son, which Time magazine declared was "the best hip-hop album of the year," the Source gave "4 mics," and Vibe blessed with "four stars," Nas is back with an album that testifies once again to his singular impact, importance and growth. That album, the double CD Street's Disciple, is unflinching, potent, passionate, playful, reflective, loving, vengeful, seething, searing, spiritual and, fundamentally, proof of the sound, fury and purposefullness that rap music, and Nas, is capable of.
Helping Nas bring his vision to fruition are producers such as LES, Salaam Remi (who helmed the explosive single "Thief's Theme") and Nas. Also adding his creative spirit is Nas's father, the acclaimed jazz/blues artist Olu Dara (who also appeared on God's Son) Along with "Thief's Theme," which finds Nas imparting wisdom on top of 60's rock staple "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," standout cuts include the pulsating "Know My Style," which is already a mix tape favorite.
Nas knows about hard-hitting street savvy anthems. This lyrical maestro has been responsible for singles (i.e. "The World Is Yours," "One Mic," "Ether" and "Made You Look") that have served as definitive hip-hop moments, instantly making their mark on radio, in the clubs and among the fans who have looked to Nas to continuously push rap music to new heights. Born Nasir Jones, the son of Dara and the late Ann Jones, Nas came of age in the Queensbridge Houses, home to a litany of luminaries including Marley Marl and the Juice Crew. With beats and verbiage built virtually into QB's concrete walls, Nas had already soaked up sonic and syllabic influences by the time he was old enough to put pen to paper. It was only a matter of time before he made his own attempts to move the crowd. While still in his teens, Nas began crafting rhymes that blended his finely tuned sense of literacy and rhetoric with glamorized thug theatrics reflecting the harsh realities of his environment. That combination of poetics and danger exploded in 1991 when Nas was invited by Main Source to drop a verse on "Live At the Barbeque." Nas's contribution earned respect in the East Coast rap scene and soon after, 3rd Bass’ MC Serch approached Nas to contribute a track to the "Zebrahead" soundtrack. Nas delivered "Halftime," and it made such an impact that Serch made it the soundtrack's lead off single.

The industry started paying attention to what the underground already knew and Nas was quickly signed to Columbia Records. Numerous New York based producers clamored to work with him and eventually Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip, and DJ Premier entered the studio with Nas to create Illmatic. If the pre-album hype had been deafening, the post-album reaction was even more intense: in some quarters, Nas was anointed rap's savior. Cuts such as "N.Y. State of Mind" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell" provided a gritty yet thoughtful soundtrack to life on NY's mean streets and Illmatic became an instant classic.

Nas followed up that success with It Was Written (1996), containing the smashes "Street Dreams" and "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)." The videos for the songs became MTV staples and afforded Nas crossover success and street cred. During this juncture in his career, Nas lead the short-lived super group, The Firm, comprised of fellow New Yorkers Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature. In 1999, Nas hit a highpoint with the one-two punch of I Am and Nastradamus, both of which topped the charts and further broadened his appeal. In addition, he made his acting debut in the Hype Williams-directed "Belly." In 2000, Nas kept true to his artistic ambitions by assembling a cadre of his fellow Queensbridge rappers for the certified gold, debut release on Ill Will Records, QB Finest, yet kept a low profile as a solo performer.

That radically shifted in 2001 as Nas entered into an intensive phase of an already potent career. Publicly called out by Jay-Z, his long time rival and fellow contender for the King of New York Hip-Hop crown, on "Takeover," Nas fired back via mixtapes, the radio and most notably with the bruising "Ether." The song, which was the unofficial first single off Stillmatic, galvanized not only Nas but also the world of hip-hop. The mano y mano between the two platinum powerhouses became the talk of the streets and the industry as the airwaves in NYC were filled with the escalating hip-hop "he said/he said." During those charged months, Nas offered he was "at war" and as a soldier, shot with deadly aim, dropping not only "Ether," but the aggressive "Got Ur Self A…" (set to "The Sopranos" opening theme) as well as the moving "One Mic," the emotional video which earned a 2002 MTV Video Award nomination for Video Of The Year.

Like the album it referenced, Stillmatic marked Nas's commitment to taut, tough and thought-provoking hip-hop and garnered high praise and platinum plus sales. Stillmatic was widely viewed as not only a personal triumph but also a return to form, a sentiment magnified by 2002's Lost Tapes, which brings together all of Nas' unreleased underground gems and garnered critical acclaim --, and God's Son. Kicking off with the crackling park jam "Made You Look," God's Son proved to be more than just the follow-up to Stillmatic. Deeply delving into his heart and soul with tracks that spoke to turmoil and loss as well as overcoming adversity, God's Son was "really personal" and painted a portrait of a young man struggling with his demons, yet open to the possibility of angels. As he said at the time of God's Son release, "My goals are to live well and be at peace until I leave this raggedy mutha****. This is a beautiful-ass world…if you can deal with all the bull****, it's a beautiful world." Older. Wiser. More focused. More at peace. More fired up. Waging war. Making love. If Nas has symbolized anything throughout his soul-stirring run, it's been people's contradictory nature and the poetry that can arise from it. On the much-anticipated Street's Disciple, Nas rises to the challenge not only as an artist but also as a man.


Nas concert stopped after shots fired

A concert by U.S. rapper Nas was stopped after a gunman apparently opened fire in the London venue where he was performing, British police said Tuesday.

No one was injured in the incident at the Brixton Academy in south London late Monday, the city's Metropolitan Police force said.

The Evening Standard newspaper, however, reported that several people were hurt as panicked fans rushed to leave the concert, but didn't give any details.

Officers believe a gunman fired two shots at the ceiling, a police spokeswoman said, adding that Nas stopped performing immediately and organizers evacuated the venue. Police retrieved two bullets and two casings from the scene, she said.

No one was arrested in connection with the incident and the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident - which probes violence within the black community - will take over the investigation, the spokeswoman said.

Brixton Academy spokeswoman Louise Kovacs said the venue was evacuated following consultation with police. She said there is "a high level of security" at every event at the concert hall, which can hold about 2,500 fans.

More than 100 security staff were working at Monday's show and concertgoers passed through scanning and security checks at the entrance to the venue, Kovacs added.

Nas has been touring the UK to promote his double A-side single Just A Moment and No One Else In The Room.

Nas And Kelis Tie The Knot

Couple married Saturday in Atlanta. God's Son vowed to be Kelis' spouse on Saturday in Atlanta.

Nas and Kelis were married in a small ceremony attended by family and friends, according to a spokesperson for the Queens, New York, MC.

Unlike plenty of celebrity couples who choose to hide their relationship, the rapper and singer have been open about their courtship over the past couple of years, and Nas even rapped about what he thought their wedding day would be like on the track "Getting Married," which appears on his new double album, Street's Disciple.

Nas: A Fire Inside

The blue of Miami's skies is slowly being overtaken by a dark, billowing gray mass erupting from the city's northern skyline. The menacing cloud has already eclipsed the afternoon sun, casting a shadowy pall over the backyard of Circle Studios, where rapper Nas sits regally on a poolside chair.

As bits of white ash drift in from above, peppering the MC with remnants of the burning Everglades 60 miles away, Nas stirs up a fire of his own. He's admonishing his fellow music icons, but not in a game of lyrical comeuppance, as he did in past rhyming duels with Jay-Z and Mobb Deep. No, Nas is working an altogether different program.

"We need to educate ourselves about what is happening out there in politics so that we can start leading the kids in the right way," he proclaims. "People don't know what kind of sickness these [presidential] candidates have been into. They're the worst people you can imagine."

Nas has escaped the crisp, familiar air of New York's spring for the warmth of Miami to record a new album, Streets Disciple, which he'll release in September. The new, burning tropical surroundings provide the backdrop for the personal revolution Nas has undergone in recent years, one that finds him channeling the razor-sharp tongue and youthful vigor of his early rap career.
Except now that he's older and wiser, it's not the survivalist streets of Queensbridge in Nas' viewfinder, but hip-hop at large — the music, the culture, the business and the youth who fuel it all. It's a lively circus of art, commerce and politics and Nas wants to be the ringleader. With his rap rival Jay-Z now "retired," Nas finds himself in the perfect position to play that role.

So he speaks out, knowing that after 12 years in hip-hop, his voice will be heard. Nas looks around at the current state of the music business and doesn't just see the tumult, he sees the opportunity — just as when he looked at the dilapidated projects described on his debut album, Illmatic, and saw the humanity.

"Everyone is affected by these mergers in the music industry. Thousands of people getting fired. Companies are going out of business. Everything is changing," he says. "Who will be those new controllers and owners of the industry? Is it going to be us? Is it going to be some 80-year-old? We have to take control of [the industry], because too many people are making millions and billions off of us and they are not giving anything back to our communities. We have the power, it's up to us to take control."

The persona Nas will present on Streets Disciple is part mysterious sage, part ribald street poet and part outspoken social critic. It's an identity two years in the making, first spawned when he called out New York's two biggest radio stations — media outlets on which he depends to play his records — for being corporate pawns that brainwash the youth. Months later, in his infamous XXL magazine cover story, he took hip-hop magazines to task for the same offense.

"I saw a lot of castrated MCs walking around just obeying the rules," Nas explains now. His behavior back then illuminates his motivation for his current work, he says. "I'm that stone in your shoe sometimes. I just can't be walked on. I put my blood, sweat and tears in my music and someone else dictates to me if it's gonna be a hit or not?

"At the time, it was really just me giving the finger to everybody," he continues. "F--- radio, f--- your magazines, f--- everybody. None of y'all got love for the street n---as coming up out of the 'hood into this billion-dollar industry with poetry that's influencing kids. None of y'all really got love for us."

Those who know Nas understand that Streets Disciple will not conform to a prescribed archetype. That's never been Nas' style; during the course of his career he's always steered away from people's expectations. Right now, he says, the same is true.

"People are dying for something original now," he states. "When I made my last album [God's Son], everybody was doing the sing-songy thing and I brought it back to the streets with 'Made You Look.' That was really risky but that's what it's about — taking risks. It's about doing something to inspire the next musician to be creative and original. It's artist time."

Nas is almost apologetic when asked about the fan demand for his new album, which is also an unspoken demand for a style of hip-hop that puts a premium on the realism he's cultivated from his career's inception. "That was never the plan. It was the plan to be real with it and put my emotion in it so people could relate. I didn't realize how much of my work was personal until recently," he says.
As much as Nas would like to cast himself as a man of the people now with Streets Disciple, many fans approach his music cautiously. They remember how Nas followed up the grittiness of Illmatic with a series of albums — It Was Written, I Am ..., Nastradamus — and a side project, the Firm, that favored rhymes about materialism and luxury instead of modesty and hardship.

"I felt like when Illmatic came, it opened the door for a lot of other MCs to come in with the whole street thing. And I knew what was happening and I just didn't want to be one of them anymore," Nas says, reflecting on his own transformation. "[I want to be] the king of the hill. Million-dollar videos. I had to be bigger than those dudes, you know? It's competitive."

Nas understands how he can be an enigma to his fans — but only to a point. "I think it's the frustration from people who don't know how to characterize me, how to title me, how to label me," Nas surmises. And that's what he promises on his new work: the unexpected. "You shouldn't be able to label me and categorize my music. I make black music. I make universal music. I make world music."

Nas has fashioned Streets Disciple as a return to his authentic 'hood tales, beginning with the name itself. The album's title is the first phrase Nas ever spoke on wax, from the first line of his first guest appearance on "Live at the Barbeque," a classic posse cut from Main Source recorded in 1990.

Even the sonic properties of the LP, he says, have an old-school feel. "We used old production techniques, chopping and sampling," he says. "Sounds, tracks, beats and flow — it's old vintage and it's risky to do."

Does the risk pay off? An early sampling of Nas' music reveals that it does. On "Thief's Theme," over the luring bass line of the classic 1968 Iron Butterfly track "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," Nas spits his rhymes with the cool disposition and lyrical precision of his best work. On "I Am Somebody," with P. Diddy at his side, he conjures up the communal energy of old-school party jams, saying, "It ain't about me/ It's about us / I wanna fit the whole world on the tour bus." Nas doesn't forgo the hustler's mentality he perfected in the mid-1990s, like on the song "Play on Playa," which urges his fellow 'hood rats to keep yearning for their money. But over the spare, tapping drumsticks of "Get Married," a devotional paean to his fiancée, Kelis, Nas demonstrates he's not afraid to tackle mature subject matter in an engaging, clever way that will still resonate with his street fans.

Nas is coming full circle on his new album and he hopes his fans — those who heralded Illmatic as the pinnacle album of hip-hop as well as those attracted to his champagne tales — will follow.

"I wanna make the music that I would like to hear," he says. "It's all based on the kind of music I grew up listening to — Melle Mel, Rakim, Kool G Rap, all the great pioneers of hip-hop. If it's not anything with respect to what I grew up listening to, then it ain't right. When I watch [what's going on in hip-hop], I think a lot of people are having fun making music and speaking their life, and that's beautiful. But what I do is my thing."

"It's amazing to me to see what I've become," he adds, "[and] I can't wait to see the next thing that I'm going to do musically, you know?"

Nas Has Seen 'The Future Of Hip-Hop,' And Its Name Is Quan

MC appears on two tracks from rap vet's latest double album. A little over 10 years ago, Nas stepped on the scene, spoke his first lines on wax — "Street's disciple, my raps are trifle/ I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle" — and was instantly considered next in line to be hip-hop's overlord. Given the response of fans and critics, most would say he lived up to hype.

Now Nas says he's finally found the perfect person to pass the baton to: Quan.

"He's the future of hip-hop, he's the future of world expression, youth expression!" Nas boasted recently while taking a break from taping an MTV special. "He's the next level of ... of ... of the new renaissance of dynamic explosions and expression. It's beyond hip-hop."

Quan, the latest MC signed to Nas' Ill Will imprint, is a 25-year-old from Newport News, Virginia, who appears twice on his mentor's double album Street's Disciple.

"[My DJ and producer] LES let me hear him," Nas said. "LES was working with him. L kept telling me about him but never played me nothing. When L played it for me, I was caught off guard. 'Cause L likes everything. When he says something is hot, I think he's just showing love to somebody. I don't know how serious he is, 'cause I heard a lot of dudes [he's recommended]. When he played me Quan's joints, I knew it was serious. I knew it was not the normal thing. You just know. When you know, you know — it's just instant."

Under the direction of Ben Mor, Nas and Quan shot a video for their joint track "Just a Moment" in New York on December 23 and 24. In the song, both talk about loved ones, prison inmates, soldiers at war, and people in the community whose lives are in jeopardy or who have already passed on and left them to mourn.

"Can we please have a moment for children?" raps Quan, who also sings the chorus. "For those who got raped or murdered or trapped in the system/ Who never knew their father, never learned to dream/ But was guided by drug dealers, killers and crack fiends/ For single mothers that's forced to play mom and dad/ Bustin' her ass to give her kids sh-- she never had."

In the video, the duo perform their piercing lyrics while Mor depicts some of the losses they rhyme about through abstract imagery, according to Nas' label. "Just a Moment" looks like it's just going to be the beginning of Nas and Quan's collaborations. The Queensbridge rap veteran says he's going to devote plenty of energy to making sure the young upstart's project comes out in 2005 and is every bit the classic Illmatic was in 1994.

"Hopefully if everything goes according to plan, we can drop this summer," Quan said. "All I know is I'm gonna give it my best. I'm gonna give them the real. I'm gonna represent my whole squad. I'm gonna represent Ill Will and shine light on VA — n---as ain't doing it right — and give the youth the truth, uncut and raw."

Nas Decries The 'CB4 Gangstas' Making The Rap Game Look Bad

Will we be hearing a song the caliber of 'Ether' coming soon from the Queensbridge MC?

Fat Joe and Jadakiss have sent warning shots through the media to 50 Cent that they will be responding to his "Piggy Bank" dis record. One person hip-hop fans have been wondering about as well is Nas; on "Piggy Bank," 50 makes fun of Nas for tattooing a picture of his wife, Kelis, on his arm.

Of course Nas is an expert in battle rapping, so will we be hearing a song the caliber of "Ether" coming soon from the Queensbridge MC?

"I need a good opponent to go after, then it's all good," Nas said with a smile on Friday in New York (see "Fat Joe On 50 Cent's 'Piggy Bank': 'Them Steroids Is Getting To Him' "). "The game is looking terrible. It's a lot of guys out here, 'CB4' gangstas, making the rap game look bad. Fourteen-year-olds might be believing in these guys, and a lot of these guys that are here are walking train wrecks and they're miserable. I pray for the upliftment of hip-hop, so I'm working on this next album, NASDAQ Dow Jones, coming to y'all real soon."

Nas doesn't have a solid release date for the project, but hinted it may be out as early as this summer.

Nas Takes Aim At O.J., Tiger And Kobe On 'These Are Our Heroes'

He wants to release the track but doesn't know if radio is ready for it. On his new album, Street's Disciple, Nas commands your attention: He forces you to hit the rewind button a few times before his verses are finished, then makes you ask the person nearest to you, "Did you hear that?" There's plenty of fodder or discussion stored within his double-disc set, which came out on Tuesday.

A track that has everyone talking is disc one's "These Are Our Heroes" (released to the streets with the title "Coon Picnic") on which Nas raps, "Let's hear it, one for the coons on UPN 9 and WB who 'yes massa' on TV/ Whatever happened to Weezy, the Red Foxxes who never got Emmys but were real to me?"

O.J. Simpson, Taye Diggs and Tiger Woods are among those he lashes out at. NBA star Kobe Bryant, however, catches most of the heat on the record, being called out by name and compared to Toby from the miniseries "Roots."

"You can't do better than that?/ The hotel clerk who adjusts the bathroom mat?" Nas says in his verses, referencing Bryant's much-publicized criminal charge for sexual assault in Colorado. "You beat the rap, jiggaboo, fake n---a you, you turn around then you sh-- on Shaq."

Nas recently said he was contemplating releasing the song as a single but did not know if media outlets would be able to embrace it.

"It's a fun record," Nas insisted. "I pick out certain guys that's heavy in the media who — whether they're athletes, rappers, whatever — I think [they're] cooning. I don't know if radio and TV are ready for those images, but they should be, because that's what hip-hop is."

A song that Nas is almost sure he will release in the near future is "Virgo," with Ludacris and Doug E. Fresh. The song has already made its way onto mixtapes (see "Mixtape Monday: Young Buck Gets Shine On G-Unit City, Luda Talks Birth Of 'Virgo' ").

"That joint was fun," he said. "Doug E. Fresh is one of the greatest entertainers and one of the guys I looked up to. Ludacris is witty, fun and one of the tightest lyricists out there. All of us are cool, and one of the main reasons is we share the same sign.

"Doug does the beat box on the record," he continued, "so it reminds you of a Slick Rick, 'La Di Da Di'-style [song]. On 'La Di Da Di,' Slick Rick was having fun talking about this girl he bumped into. It's vulgar, it's funny, and Ludacris brings that effect to it. Being a fan of Slick Rick, I bring that Slick Rick/ New York vibe to it."

Nas said he and Fresh originally did the song together but decided to ask Ludacris to join the collaboration because he and Luda had been talking about working on another song (the two first rapped together on Nas' "Made You Look" remix) — and because Cris is a Virgo.

"Our birthdays are close to each other," Nas said. "We've been talking about doing a birthday party together, and this song is like a party on wax."

Another major collaborator on Street's Disciple is Busta Rhymes. He laid down the chorus for "Suicide Bounce," a song which also features newcomer Quan (Quan, an MC from VA, is the man Nas says he's passing the baton to as the new hot MC on "Just a Moment").

" 'Suicide Bounce' is based off when you feel pressured and you feel like you can't take it, but you're not dumb enough to take your life," Nas said. "You feel like you want to do something to somebody, you just wanna go off. The energy of the record is to keep you going, push you forward, keep you bouncing instead of calling it quits. Busta Rhymes is on the hook, and he brings the energy. It felt like 'Hate Me Now.' "

Love and hate are the themes of "War," which Nas calls his most personal record on the double opus.

" 'War' is [about] my baby-mama drama," he said. " 'War' talks about when my daughter was born and me first being on the scene with stardom. It kinda went to my head. Me and her mom were young. It just shows what happens to the household when we run and speed into things. I don't really wanna blame anybody, even though I did go through extra-crazy scenarios. I still don't point the finger; I'm the bigger man. I think everything is an experience, and I feel you learn from everything. That record got personal because I named the years and dates from where I'm at."

Believe it or not, Nas says it's that style of record that makes him second-guess himself.

"You lay the record down, and then you don't want nobody to hear it," he said. "[You ask], 'Are they going to judge me?' After it's laid, I'm scared, and I don't want the record to come out. I'm like, 'Let's change it.' It's too late by then. But I say forget it and just let it be out."

Nas admits he's a little weird. Luckily he has two soul mates, his fiancee, Kelis, and his child, Destiny, to help keep him sane.

"They're my therapists," he said. "I'm a tortured, torn, insane guy. They make me feel great."

Kelis, who appears twice on the album (see "Nas Salutes The Ladies, Past And Present, On Upcoming LP"), acted as muse for some of his rhymes. "She was there for a lot of it," Nas said. "She helped me out on two songs — just [her] talking to me inspired me."

Nas Salutes The Ladies, Past And Present, On Upcoming LP

Street's Disciple also pays homage to his father and Rakim.

Few men would have the courage to recall their past sexual exploits with their fiancee, let alone record it for mass consumption. But that's just one of the many topics Nas touches on with his forthcoming album, Street's Disciple.

"Remember the Times," Nas chronicles many a sexual exploit with vivid detail to a vintage R&B sample from Carol Douglas' "We Do It." The song is preceded by an intro on which Nas' fiancee, Kelis, asks him: "So you can't think of anybody in your past, your dirty, dark past, who, if I gave you a free pass, you wouldn't want to do them one last time?"

While Nas relishes in those memories, they appear to be just that, as he also crafts tracks like the romantic "Getting Married" on which he narrates their future wedding nuptials to a Chucky Thompson track that features a sample of Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Mood 1."

Due November 30, Street's Disciple isn't just about Nas' love for the ladies. The double-disc set also tackles social issues, his bond with his father, and MCs who've influenced him.

On "American Way," Nas rails against not only President Bush and his administration, but also Senator John Kerry, newly politically active hip-hop artists, and bigots with stereotypical views on hip-hoppers. The song, which also features Kelis, is built on a Q-Tip track that samples George Clinton.

Nas shows his softer side with his current single, "Bridging the Gap," which features his father, jazz musician Olu Dara, and pays homage to both Dara and their relationship.

He also pays tribute to hip-hop legend Rakim on the old-schooled-flavored "U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)." Starting with the birth of the veteran MC, Nas takes us through Rakim's rise with great detail, even listing his discography. The song ends with Nas promising more in his "unauthorized biography" series: "Next book, KRS-One."

The old-school vibe continues on "Virgo." Featuring Ludacris and Doug E. Fresh, the astrology-themed track finds Nas and 'Cris doing their best Slick Rick imitation — a la "La-Di-Da-Di" — over beatboxing by Fresh.

Other highlights include "Rest of My Life," "Suicide Bounce" featuring Busta Rhymes, and "Coon Picnic (These Are Our Heroes)."

Nas vs Jay-Z: Grade-a-beef

Last month New York radio station Hot 97 set up a battle-of-the-beats showdown between Nasir "Nas" Jones and Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z. In one corner was Jay, boasting of an affair with Nas' baby's mother and threatening to come to Queens to hem up his adversary over the musical backdrops of Nas' "Got Ur Self A ..." and Dr. Dre's "Bad Intentions" on a freestyle he calls "Super Ugly."

In the other corner was "Ether," Nas' reply to another Jay dis, called "Takeover." On "Ether," Nas interjects, among other things, innuendo about who is really behind Jigga's stabbing of Lance "Un" Rivera and what he calls a striking resemblance between Hova and "Good Times" character J.J. Evans.

Even before Nas' 52 to 48 percent victory, which was decided by listeners calling up and faxing in their choice for the most scathing barb record, it was apparent that the streets were leaning toward the former Mr. Escobar.

"How does it fit?" a smiling male fan recently asked Nas as Queensbridge's General tried to make his way to his car in midtown Manhattan.

Visibly perplexed, Nas hollered back, "How does what fit?"

"The crown, man," the fan answered, garnering chuckles from the rapper and his small entourage.

"Nah, I'm not trying to be the king."

Nas doesn't want the pressure.

"The animosity thing has always been about somebody wanting to be the king of New York," he explained later that day, referring to the origins of his and Jay's war of words. "Me, myself, I never wanted that crown. That crown's a big responsibility. Ask [former New York Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani."

And ask Jay-Z, who to many people's surprise seems to be the loser in the back-and-forth with Nas.


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