Last night I had the honor and privilege to witness one of my personal heroes be interviewed by another hero of mine. Hip-hop legend and current four time Grammy nominee Nas was interviewed by Grammy winning writer and author Anthony DeCurtis at 92nd Street Y in the upper east side of Manhattan. The venue was beautifully lit and designed for an intimate gathering, with about two hundred people in the audience, one being myself. By the end of the event I got to understand Nas from a different angle yet my feelings for him still remained the same as if I never went- he is humble, aware, funny, friendly and above all an amazing guy and an awesome interview. Nas covered so many aspects of his life, from his beginnings, to his long and illustrious career, his work with Amy Winehouse and what he seems for his future. It all started with Anthony looking at him and saying, “Life is Good” to thunderous laughter and applause. Here is some excerpts from the event.
On his new record “Life Is Good”.
“Working on this record, it was important to remember where I started from and also important to touch on that make it the place I started from which is New York. I had to let producers and everybody know this has to sound authentically me. I tapped into that, and I felt like how could you lose at this point? I just honed in on it.”
On his writing throughout the years.
“I don't know any other way. Only way to do it is to talk about what is really happening, otherwise it becomes a gimmick or the same thing. If have have been around as long as I have, you have the thought of doing what is current or what is hot in that particular year. That's the easier route, and that's not me.
On his two time Grammy nominated song “Daughters”.
“Daughters” was one of the first tracks I wrote for the record. I didn't really even think about putting it out. I played it for some people, and it was actually a girl in the studio that night that heard the track and started crying. She told me this song was her life story, and that's when I realized that I may have something, and people might like this after all.
On his time spent with Amy Winehouse.
“We were introduced by a producer of mine through Skype. The funny thing is that we only hung out for one weekend, but we would talk on the phone for hours. She had this witty British humor and would say to me “Tell your friend to go back to being a janitor (huge laughter from audience)”. We would talk about movies, how crazy the paparazzi were and everything else. I later found out that she wrote “Cherry Wine” just for me. What's crazy too is that I started talking about this at 9:14 and that is our birthday!”
On who his greatest influences are.
“There are so many. It dates back to LL Cool J's “Radio” album, when Ice Cube went solo, Rakim's “Paid In Full” and several others like De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest.”
On who he thinks the new Nas is.
“I don't want to be called anyone else, so I can't really answer that question. I believe everyone should do their own thing”.
His favorite lyric he ever wrote.
From his song “Stay”- “Even though I don't like you, next Friday night can't wait to fight you”.