Nas: ‘It sounded like a rhino’
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones grew up in Queensbridge, a rough part of New York City. His father left. He dropped out of school. The classic CV for a career as a drug dealer. Instead, he became Nas, and in 1994, released his debut album, Illmatic, aged 20. It was groundbreaking: no one had told the tough-life tales in such a poetic and musical way before.
The album is still lauded as a hip-hop touchstone by critics, fans and fellow musicians, and a 20th-birthday rerelease includes demos, remixes, and unreleased tracks. Nas took time out from the celebrations to remember the music that fired him up back then.