NEW YORK — A little over 10 years ago, Nas stepped on the scene, spoke his first lines on wax — "Street's disciple, my raps are trifle/ I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle" — and was instantly considered next in line to be hip-hop's overlord. Given the response of fans and critics, most would say he lived up to hype.
Now Nas says he's finally found the perfect person to pass the baton to: Quan.
"He's the future of hip-hop, he's the future of world expression, youth expression!" Nas boasted recently while taking a break from taping an MTV special. "He's the next level of ... of ... of the new renaissance of dynamic explosions and expression. It's beyond hip-hop."
Quan, the latest MC signed to Nas' Ill Will imprint, is a 25-year-old from Newport News, Virginia, who appears twice on his mentor's double album Street's Disciple.
"[My DJ and producer] LES let me hear him," Nas said. "LES was working with him. L kept telling me about him but never played me nothing. When L played it for me, I was caught off guard. 'Cause L likes everything. When he says something is hot, I think he's just showing love to somebody. I don't know how serious he is, 'cause I heard a lot of dudes [he's recommended]. When he played me Quan's joints, I knew it was serious. I knew it was not the normal thing. You just know. When you know, you know — it's just instant."
Under the direction of Ben Mor, Nas and Quan shot a video for their joint track "Just a Moment" in New York on December 23 and 24. In the song, both talk about loved ones, prison inmates, soldiers at war, and people in the community whose lives are in jeopardy or who have already passed on and left them to mourn.
"Can we please have a moment for children?" raps Quan, who also sings the chorus. "For those who got raped or murdered or trapped in the system/ Who never knew their father, never learned to dream/ But was guided by drug dealers, killers and crack fiends/ For single mothers that's forced to play mom and dad/ Bustin' her ass to give her kids sh-- she never had."
In the video, the duo perform their piercing lyrics while Mor depicts some of the losses they rhyme about through abstract imagery, according to Nas' label. "Just a Moment" looks like it's just going to be the beginning of Nas and Quan's collaborations. The Queensbridge rap veteran says he's going to devote plenty of energy to making sure the young upstart's project comes out in 2005 and is every bit the classic Illmatic was in 1994.
"Hopefully if everything goes according to plan, we can drop this summer," Quan said. "All I know is I'm gonna give it my best. I'm gonna give them the real. I'm gonna represent my whole squad. I'm gonna represent Ill Will and shine light on VA — n---as ain't doing it right — and give the youth the truth, uncut and raw."