9 gems we learned from Nas’ "Drink Champs" interview

Preezy Brown

 // Jul 25, 2019

Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV's "Drink Champs," which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly "Drink Champs" episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.

In the latest episode of "Drink Champs," Nas makes his highly anticipated debut on the show, where he catches up with fellow Queens native N.O.R.E. and long-time friend, DJ EFN. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential rap artists of all-time, Nas' history is rich as anyone who has made an appearance on "Drink Champs."

Fresh off of his latest album release, The Lost Tapes 2, the budding mogul gives insight into the making of the project, a timeline of the recordings and shares his plans for more installments to come. In addition to discussing what's going on in Nas' world today; the rap legend and N.O.R.E. take a trip down memory lane, recounting their long-standing relationship, and reminiscing on past collaborations with one another. Other topics include Nas' transition from underground deity to mainstream stardom, spats with rap rivals, and his evolution into an investor and entrepreneur.

To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from Nas' episode on "Drink Champs." Take a look at them below.

1. How KRS-One Inspired Illmatic

The war of words between KRS-One [and Boogie Down Productions] and MC Shan [and The Juice Crew] is a monumental moment in rap history that had a resounding impact on the landscape of rap. Nas recalls how KRS-One's victory over Queens' collective of rap all-stars, lit a fire under him while making Illmatic. "KRS is a leader. He's one of my favorite rappers ever," Nas explains. "So when I was putting out [the album] it was, like, almost to show KRS-One, that was part of my drive 'cause of what he had done. So part of it was like, 'Look KRS, we here.' So he's one of my favorites ever."

2. Akinyele

One rap legend from Queens that's oft unsung is Akinyele, who flourished during the early '90s when the borough was regaining its footing in the rap game. Nas, who appeared alongside Akinyele on "Live at the Barbeque," reveals his role in helping him attempt to secure a record deal early on in his career. "[Akinyele] would say, 'I'ma come pick you up and we gonna go shop these tapes.' [He] used to get me motivated to go shop demos. He somehow he knew where the offices was, he knew who to go see... He booked meetings with real people. So he was thinking like a businessman... I was like, 'Are we really going to these offices?'"

3. The Backstory Behind His Rivalry With The Notorious B.I.G.

1994 is hailed as a landmark year for east coast rap due to classic debuts from Nas and The Notorious B.I.G., who were in a heated competition for the bragging rights of being the King of New York. During his interview with the "Drink Champs," he addresses the tension between the two, which he says stems from Raekwon's "Shark Niggas (Biters)" skit on his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx album. "That was the talk, I just couldn't believe he said it," Nas says of Ghostface's allegations of Biggie jacking the concept for Nas' album cover. "I had the picture of young me on the cover [of Illmatic] and then The Notorious B.I.G., rest in peace, had a picture of a baby [on the cover of Ready to Die] that was supposed to be him. So of course, people started comparing [because] they was comparing us anyway so when the album cover came, Ghost said it and I said, 'It's straight blood-sport out here, it's war.' When Ghost said that shit on [Raekwon's] tape, oh, that was crazy... Big called me and he was like, 'You fucking with them Wu niggas?'… [Beause] me and him was tight so I was like, 'Yo, that's Ghost. Ghostface is Ghostface, there's no love lost, I didn't know they was gonna say that shit ' And he was a little disappointed because he wasn't trying to bite off my shit… he wasn't coming at it like that [because] if you listen to his album, he tell a whole story… So, I didn't look at it like that, it was just competition at that time…"

4. Backlash from "If I Ruled The World"

Following the critical acclaim of Illmatic, Nas was viewed as a rap savior by purists and critics alike. However, that tune began to change with the release of his sophomore album It Was Written, which was led by the Lauryn Hill-assisted hit single "If I Ruled The World." Following the critical acclaim of Illmatic, Nas was viewed as a rap savior by purists and critics alike. However, that tune began to change with the release of his sophomore album It Was Written, which was led by the Lauryn Hill-assisted hit single "If I Ruled The World. When asked if he felt any backlash from the song, Nas acknowledges the skepticism surrounding the record. "Big time," he says. "When we first put out the record, it was a white-label, so they didn't know who was singing it. They didn't know it was [Lauryn Hill] so [they're\ thinking, 'Why is someone singing on your record, bro? Like what's going on?' And I'm like, 'Dog, that's Whodini; the beat, that's Whodini. She's singing Kurtis Blow, dog, this is hip hop to me. It sounds good for radio, too, but I'm just saying, it's hip hop so this is what we [are] doing. The way the thing was changing, radio was opening up to us... We had to do that to get to the next level… And then it's Lauryn Hill so it's like [it's a no-brainer], but then… people weren't ready for the transition."

5. The Backstory To "Triple Threat"

The solidarity among rappers from Queens was at an all-time high during the late '90s, with the boroughs hottest emcees collaborating consistently. During his chat with Nas, N.O.R.E. recalls an instance in which he and Nas hijacked an instrumental meant for one of their contemporaries. "One day we [were] in the studio, me, you and it's Nature's session," he says. "So me and you was both in Nature's session and [there's] a song called 'Triple Threat.' So Trackmasters plays the record and Nature said, 'Yo, I'ma take this shit and I'ma go home' and me and you just looked at each other... and just bodied the whole record... We was some foul niggas [laughs]."

6. How Nas Introduced N.O.R.E. To Dr. Dre

N.O.R.E.'s appearance on The Firm track "I'm Leaving" helped jump-start the Lefrak rep's solo career and the rest is history. During his conversation with Nas, N.O.R.E. shares how the recording session allowed him to work with one of the greatest producers of all-time. "You guys started recording The Firm in Miami and y'all was supposed to give me a flight and I never got that flight," N.O.R.E. recalls. "But you gotta relax, you can't complain, you gotta shut up and just wait for your hunger. And then one day Jungle called me and was like,' You been to L.A.?' and I was like, 'Nigga, I made L.A. L.A.,' I don't wanna go to L.A.' They like, 'We need you on The Firm album.' And I flew out there and you know who the fuck was the engineer? Dr. fucking Dre, my bruh. The only time I been in the room with Dr. Dre is [because] of your ass."

7. Creating The Firm

Considered a supreme soloist and self-contained artist, Nas' rise coincided with the emergence of various rap crews and collectives, inspiring him to put together his own infantry of lyrical cohorts. I needed my niggas," Nas says about his reasoning behind creating The Firm. "I was dolo really so I needed to squad up [because] everybody was [getting together] so it was only right. You had Junior Mafia. Even Wu-Tang, it's a lot of them. Death Row, it's a lot of them, you know."

8. Almost Signing Foxy Brown

Nas' relationship with Foxy Brown was solidified with her induction into The Firm, with the two stars headlining the quartet of spitters. However, according to Esco, he almost had the opportunity to sign her to a solo deal prior to her partnership with Def Jam. "AZ introduced me to Foxy," Nas explains. "And I met her and I'm like, 'Oh, she's a beautiful, beautiful sister. And she got bars, she's gonna win.' ... Flew her to L.A. to talk to Jimmy Lovine to try to get her a deal... But [in] the end, I saw she was already on her way so I stepped back and let her go."

9. His Run-In With Prince

One common thread that links many of the guests on "Drink Champs" is their encounters with Prince, who's sheer presence has left the most accomplished artists in a state of awe. Nas proves to be no different, as he recalls his own run-in with the musical icon. "I sought him [because] he came to my I Am... album release party," he shares. "And I pulled a N.O.R.E. move, I [told Prince], 'Look, man, let's do this. Let's do this song.' And he was like, 'Do you own your masters?' But he blew my shit because I was like, 'I don't and I'm far from it... And he said, 'When you own your masters, give me a ring.'" Nas also reveals that he actually had the opportunity to hang around Prince on a few occasions and was even invited to rock the stage alongside him at one point. "We kicked it a few times... he was a very cool dude to me. He invited me on stage to perform, I was like, 'I can't go out there.' I think everyone wanted to work with him. He turned Michael Jackson down. The pressure he had from people wanting to work with him was crazy."

Be sure to watch the "Drink Champs" episode with Nas only on REVOLT TV tonight (July 25) at 10:00 p.m. ET. See where you can watch the REVOLT TV channel here.

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