Nas is dancing, playing air guitar and — wow — the often-stoic street's disciple is smiling so wide you can see almost all of his teeth. And why not? He's filming a video with his father for the first time.
"It's a wonderful situation," Nas' dad, jazz musician Olu Dara, said on the set of "Bridging the Gap" last week in New York. "We've been working together since his birth. It's just another way of working with him."
Dara was also there when Nas was birthed as the premier lyricist in rap a decade ago on Illmatic: He played trumpet on the classic cut "Life's a Bitch."
"We've done little things here and there," Nas said. "He did the score for 'Belly' [1998 film that Nas co-wrote and starred in]. A lot of people been asking me, 'When you gonna do something with your dad?' 'Cause he has a following from the blues and jazz circuit and I got mine. 'Bridging the Gap' is the whole transition of music from African to blues to rock and roll to hip-hop, gospel and everything."
"We took the music to the old Muddy Waters type of feeling [from] Mississippi — that's where I'm from — and bridged that gap," Dara expounded. "[It's the] hip-hop beat mixed with that Muddy Waters/ Mississippi groove. This song is for all generations, from the little ones to the very old. This song is gonna merge all the musical minds and thoughts. It shows you that everything is just a different degree of the same thing."
Click for photos from the "Bridging the Gap" video shoot
Nas said that with his pops being so deep into the craft, his love of the blues and jazz was almost a birthright.
"My dad, being from Mississippi, he put [the blues] in me at a young age," the MC explained. "My generation's music is hip-hop. That's what they was playing in the streets — Afrika Bambaataa and people like Melle Mel. But I still listen to [other kinds of music]. So here we are: I finally got the chance to do the record with my father that I always wanted to do. It's just the beginning of us working together. I'm happy, man — check us out."
"Bridging the Gap" was directed by Dianne Martel and will be the next release from the double album, Street's Disciple, due November 30. The clip has plenty of performance scenes with Nas and dad together.
For a feature about the inspiration behind Street's Disciple, check out "Nas: A Fire Inside."