Nas On Joining Hip-Hop’s New Frontier: Podcasting

Do you feel like you’re filling some sort of educational void in a way? Are you preserving something that you think is being lost?

Yeah, of course. And also just really respecting this thing that changed my life, changed my family’s life, and changed so many people’s lives. So, it’s so important to just give back to it and put a light on it and celebrate it.

You’ve already had several amazing guests on the show, but are there any grail guests for you?

Some of the names I would come up with are probably names that most people don’t know about, like Joeski Love, who made the “Pee Wee Herman,” which was a hit record, and there was a big dance to it. There was an era [in the ‘80s] of dances. There was a song, “Do the James” by Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud, big hit record on the hip-hop scene. There was ”The Wop”, by this cat named B-Fats. So, maybe there’s an episode about just those hit records and those dances.

Does it feel odd to be a part of the media now? To have the tables turned a little bit?

I can’t say that I’m part of the media yet. The media is a big thing. I’m just a guy, a rap dude asking other rap dudes and women questions about rap.

So, you’re not looking for your Pulitzer?

Oh, no, I can’t. I mean, if they give it to you for being raw, I want the raw Pulitzer, the Pulitzer for being as raw as possible. But I don’t know about the other stuff.

You’re not alone, though. A lot of your ’90s hip-hop compatriots are becoming podcasters or media entrepreneurs. What do you think is driving this movement?

It seems like it’s a lot of fun. And we’ve always wanted to hear from our own community, so it’s finally happening. It’s very exciting to see artists do more than just be on the stage and make records. It’s exciting to see them in a new space where it’s more personable. It’s more open. It’s the real deal.

[In the past] we would have to wait for a publication to put out an article on A Tribe Called Quest, and it would probably happen once a year. And now you can hear these guys talking in raw form. They’re not trying to be politically correct, necessarily.. So to hear the raw energy from artists asking and answering questions together, it’s sort of like, I wish I could hear conversations between Stevie Wonder and Sade.

In a 2006 Pitchfork interview, you said going global hurt hip-hop because “no one knows where it comes from, and no one knows who is doing it right.” Hip-hop’s bigger than it’s ever been now. Do you still think that that’s hurting hip-hop in some way?

It actually caught up. So at the time, I’m first seeing it like that, you get a little nervous–people might not understand what this shit is all about. Language barriers, whatever. But now, it’s proven to beat that fear. It became the opposite. By becoming bigger, it didn’t lose its soul. So, the soul is still there. The knowledge is still there. Information age, internet, you can figure out anything. So, nothing’s gotten lost.

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