When Nas got the call to appear on Tupac's new Better Dayz, there was no question — he jumped at the chance. Even though the slain rapper dissed him on record, the king of Queensbridge has remained a fan.
"That was something I've been waiting to do for a long time," Nas said Monday in Atlanta on the set of the "Thugz Mansion" video. "It's a tremendous honor because I put Tupac beyond Shakespeare. Unfortunately his early demise didn't allow him to still be here and do more incredible things. The things he left are timeless. Just to be a part of that is an honor for me." (Click here for photos from the video shoot.)
Nas appears on the acoustic guitar remix of the "Thugz Mansion." A version with two Tupac verses and one Nas verse appears on Better Dayz, and the ratio is flipped for the version on Nas' God's Son, due December 17 (see "Nas Joined By Eminem, Admits Rivalry With Biggie On God's Son").
"As soon as I heard it, I was with it," Nas recounted during downtime. "It was something I wanted to do with just a guitar playing, not really drums — something you could hear the words [on]. I was looking forward to doing something like that for my album, so when I heard [Tupac] doing it and the things he was saying, I was like, 'Damn!' It goes to show how he was one of the most incredible poets. It couldn't have been a better song at a better time.
"The concept of the song is somewhere to go where there's no problems," he added. "Everywhere we go, there's a problem. Everywhere I turn I'm hearing my name this way and that way. It's always an issue on all types of levels. Just being a human is hard. 'Thugz Mansion' is like exactly what the title says — it's heaven."
Nas said working with director David Nelson (Coolio, Naughty by Nature) on "Thugz Mansion" was a different experience than shooting the video for his own single, "Made You Look" (see "Nas Goes To The Streets, Shoots Guerilla-Style Video").
" 'Made You Look' was basically about me in my element, in my city, New York City, on the streets. You always wanna capture New York on film. There ain't nothing like it. It ain't really been captured in a while. A lot of videos are glossy with the cars and girls with the bikinis. It's real fly, but I wanted to take it back to the streets. ['Thugz Mansion'] was artistic, a lot more artistic. It's a whole different vibe. Being that the brother Pac is not here physically, there's different techniques going into shooting the video to make sure it's done the right way."
"Thugz Mansion" is slated to air December 13 on "TRL" and December 17 on "Direct Effect."