Nas is one of the most established rappers in the game, having been active since 1991, but where did it all begin for him?
Nas was born in Brooklyn, New York, and spent the majority of his life in the city. When he was a young child, his parents relocated the family to Queens, and this is where Nas’ musical life began.
Read on to learn more about this iconic rapper.
Big City Kid
In an article released in 2016, the origins of Hip Hop are discovered. In this article, the author leans into the suggestion that Hip Hop originated in either the Bronx, or Queens. Given that fact, it’s easy to see how Nas, a Queens native, would have cut his teeth in the genre.
Nas was born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, to a musician father and a postal worker mother. It was his father who had the biggest musical impact on Nas, being as he was a professional jazz and blues musician.
When Nas was very young, his family made the decision to move a short distance from Brooklyn, where he was born. They relocated to the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens, New York. However, as Nas grew up here, the projects would sour, and become a place of near depravity.
An article from 2014 explores the nature of this neighborhood, stating that, “By the 1980s, the area had turned into an urban hellhole.” It went on to detail the commonplace cases of rape and murder, and drug abuse. As time went on, Queensbridge was literally labelled a “no-go area”.
It was this gritty urban sprawl that would influence Nas’ earliest music. The aforementioned article explores deeper, returning to Queensbridge twenty years after Nas wrote and released songs about it.
More than three decades after Queensbridge was labelled a no-go area, it was still extremely run down and treacherous. While the world around it had advanced somewhat, Queensbridge remained locked in the past.
This has spawned some dissent against figures like Nas. There are some people who felt the iconic rapper forgot his roots, and abandoned the place he grew up. In the article, a Queensbridge resident is quoted as saying: “Nas can go and spend three or four million on a house in Miami for him and his wife, but the kids here now don’t even have anywhere they can perform their music.”
Nas posted a picture on Instagram of he and fellow New York rapper Notorious B.I.G in 2020.
A Long Way from Queensbridge
As of 2020, Nas was worth around $50 million. He’d been in the industry for almost thirty years, accumulated a number of awards and chart-topping titles. While he returned to Queensbridge on occasion – such as in a 2011 music video – he never went back to live in the area.
You can see Queenbridge featured in that video on YouTube (explicit content).
Around 2002, Nas bought out a mansion in Georgia, as well as a large home in Los Angeles in 2007. Collectively, the properties were worth almost $2 million. This is a far cry from the value of property in and around Queensbridge.
Nas is truly entitled to his success, owing majorly to the difficulties experienced growing up in Queensbridge. It’s a theme that has remained consistent in his music throughout his career. He’s regularly calling back to the streets, to social and cultural issues, and the difficulties of youth.
By 2020, Nas had become a shrewd businessman as well as a superstar rapper. He’d become a spokesperson or advocate for multiple organizations. Not only that, but he’d begun investing in startups and fledgling businesses, and partnering in restaurant ventures.
Also by this time, Nas had released eleven studio albums, seven of which were post-2000. He’d starred in numerous film and television shows, and collaborated with several other artists. This impressive figure was still making waves in the industry almost thirty years after he left Queensbridge.