For his new single and video, "Made You Look," Nas has once again taken it to the streets.
"We went out to the five boroughs," he said Tuesday night of the video shoot with director Benny Boom, who captured the rapper performing all around New York. "We couldn't get permits, so we went guerilla-style. That's the way it's supposed to be. I see videos and like my man Tracy Morgan said, 'Every video I see, there's a girl, a model, dancing.' What the f--- is that? When you see me, you see the truth." (Click here for photos from the video shoot)
"We took it back to '88," said Boom, who's also directed such videos as Nelly and Kelly Rowland's "Dilemma" (see "Kelly Rowland Moves Into 'Leave It To Beaver' House"). "We wanted to take it back the old Rakim days when you did a video and made it performance and made it hot and showed love to the streets. ... [We] brought Nas to all the neighborhoods and everybody showed love to him. I wanted to give it that whole king of New York aspect of Nas. On the streets he's the king of New York of this rap thing."
"In Queensbridge we showed sections of the bridge," he added. "We had his Bravehearts out there. In the Bronx we had Fat Joe and all his people came and showed love. They came 25 deep in front of the Big Pun mural. We went to Harlem at Rucker Park and we had the ballplayers out there. We went to BK on Fulton and St. James, Fulton and Putnam, to Big's old stomping grounds, and everybody out there gave us crazy love."
Jadakiss, DJ Kay Slay, Killah Priest, Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar also showed their adoration for Nas by making cameos in the video.
"No R&B, straight hip-hop," Nas said on the mic, standing on a small stage in the basement of a Manhattan restaurant, before cameras started rolling. For the video's last scenes to go in the can, a fake club had been set up and Nas and the Bravehearts were the center of attention during a live performance.
"We just wanted to make sure people heard him," Boom said of his choice to shun the usual video process of lip-syncing. "If we wanted the feel of a live show, I was gonna give them a live show. Throw that mic on. Let him rip."
"The record is crazy," Boom later gushed. "I'm a old-school n---a. So for me, that's that 'Straight Outta Compton' [feel]. The sample and that loop is straight from the late '80s, early '90s of when they was introducing hip-hop."
The current state of hip-hop and a certain rhyme foe were at the forefront of Nas' thoughts during a lull in the action. "It's the fourth quarter and everybody has an R&B record, and they say they're hip-hop," he protested. "They just lying, sellin' out hip-hop music with R&B records. You're on your eighth album? Where's your balls at, man? Make a rap record. What, is you scared? Make some rap music. Hip-hop is not about radio, it's not about the TV. These n---as is too [MC] Hammer. This sh-- is real music from real life."
Nas' next dose of reality, God's Son, has been pushed back to December 17. Many of the tracks were recorded from late September to mid-October in Miami while Ja Rule (who co-stars with Nas in the video for "The Pledge" remix) was also down at the studio working on The Last Temptation.
According to Nas' spokesperson, God's Son is still being recorded with "Made You Look" soundscape provider Salaam Remi, Large Professor and the Alchemist contributing most of the beats. No lyrical guests have made it on the LP as of yet.