Hundreds of hopefuls have entered the hip hop game, eager to gain fame and success ever since the dynamic genre's inception in the early eighties. However, only a select few have transformed the music, the culture and the listeners as greatly as Nas. With a nine album discography that includes multi-platinum successes, worldwide acclaim, and the 1994 hip hop milestone "Illmatic," the Queens MC has been providing listeners with an uncensored look into his personal life stories and thoughts. Yet outside of the studio, Nas has also been known to be extremely tight-lipped about specific details on his life–until now. VH1's special series "Behind the Music" will be returning to the small screen this Thursday, featuring the illustrious life and times of Nas, inarguably considered one of the best rappers alive by fans, industry heads and critics alike.
"It was tough. I didn't want to do 'Behind the Music,' " Nas admits. "I didn't. But at some point, if you don't tell your story, somebody else will. So I gave them a little peek inside. It can't hurt, just a little peek inside." From Nasty Nas to Nastradamaus and back again, the naturally-gifted wordsmith has always used his gift of storytelling and innate sense of lyricism to paint often chilling, yet starkly accurate accounts of what it means to be Black in America. As revealed in a ten-minute preview released this week, no detail will be spared in this episode as Nas' upbringing, his humble beginnings, his dealings with drugs and all of the violence and death that ensued and ultimately informed his lyrics appear to be addressed. The rap king even opens up about his controversial divorce with pop diva Kelis. Interviews with those closest to the MC growing up, including his family members and fellow rappers like Common, Rakim and Large Professor, will provide another layer of perspective. "You can never forget where you come from, no matter how far you go," says Nas, in the episode's opening scenes. "In the neighborhood where I'm from, people are killed for nothing. You can't just ignore it. That's the beauty of rap music, because we're going to give you the side that no one wants to talk about. We tell you the truth. America, this is your country, this is what's going on."
Tune into VH1 this Thursday at 9PM to learn more about Nas, the man behind the music.
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Patrice Peck is a writer and journalist whose work explores the intersection of race, culture, and identity. Her work lives at www.patricepeck.com.