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Nasir Jones, performing under the pseudonym Nas, was born in Brooklyn in 1973. He has been familiar with the music since the very childhood: his father is a famous jazz musician Olu Dara. Nasir played the trumpet when he was only four and he started to rhyme at age nine. In the late 1970s Nasir’s family moved to Queens, and Nas became interested in hip-hop due to his friend and neighbor Willy 'Ill Will' Graham, who played him different records. In 1985 Nasir’s parents divorced and he quitted the middle school. However, he did not stop learning: he read a lot about the African culture and he paid a lot of attention to religion.
As a teenager, Nas performed with his friend Willy Graham, and at that time the rapper used the pseudonym Kid Wave. He changed it into more familiar Nas later. Due to the show of 1991, Nasir managed to get the reputation of a wonder kid, so the next year MC Serch from 3rd Bass became his manager and helped him to sign the contract with Columbia Records. Nas’ debut single Halftime was released in 1992, and his lyrics and rhymes attracted attention in the hip-hop community. Nas was even entitled new Rakim.
The rapper’s debut album Illmatic was released in 1994 and it is considered to be one of the best hip-hop albums ever. The Source gave a fair review to the record, which had been created with the help of Q-Tip, L.E.S and Nasir’s father Olu Dara. Musical critics acclaimed Illmatic, and the lyrics was described as highly literate. Indeed, in his songs Nas talks about serious things, nevertheless the despair is not the key word: there is always hope for the best. In 1994 Nas performed the song One on One, which was included into Street Fighter soundtrack. That year the musician also participated in the creation of Mobb Deep, AZ и Kool G Rap albums. In 1994 Nas’ ex-fiancée gave birth to their daughter, who was named Destiny.
Nas’ second album It Was Written was released in 1996. Due to the new sound and such songs as If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) and Street Dreams Nas became a part of the mainstream hip-hop. About this time Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown and Cormega organized the super-band The Firm. They signed the contract with Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment and started working on their debut album. Later Cormega quitted the band, and his place was taken by Nature. In 1997 the record titled Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album was issued. That album was certified platinum, however the musicians decided to split and to work on their solo projects. In 1998 Nas co-wrote and starred in the movie Belly, directed by Harold Williams. A year later the musician released his album I Am... The Autobiography (1999), with every track describing some part of his life. By 2001 Nas and Jay-Z had an intense relationship, and everybody found out about their feud after the songs, in which both rappers mocked each other. Jay-Z’s Takeover was replied with Nas’ song Ether, which was later included into his album Stillmatic (2001). The conflict was settled by 2005, and rappers even performed on one stage with Jay-Z’s song Dead Presidents, sampled from Nas’ composition The World Is Yours. In 2005 Nasir married rhythm and blues singer Kelis. On April, 2009 Kelis filed for divorce, and on July she gave birth to their son, Knight.
The musician’s new record Distant Relatives was released in 2010, only two years after the album Untitled (2008). Distant Relatives already attracted a lot of attention: the famous rapper recorded it with Damian Marley, who is hardly less famous. The mix of their lyrics and their music is twice more interesting. Reggae gives some new shades, richening the hip-hop beats. The quality of the text is traditionally high, due to the collaboration of two professionals. There is no doubt that the new sound will be enjoyed both by reggae and hip-hop music lovers.