Over the years, Nas and Rakim have frequently been compared to each other, both for carving out their own respective niches and for their profound influence on the rap game. But they'd never sat down for a joint interview — until last week, and MTV News was there.
The historic event wasn't short on historic news, either: As our cameras rolled, the two solidified plans to collaborate officially on record for the first time. (Both MCs were featured on a 2003 studio version of Alicia Keys' song "Streets of New York (City Life)" (see "Alicia Keys Locks In Nas, Rakim For New Album"), but the track was never officially released and has been relegated to mixtapes.)
And with both MCs currently crafting their latest LPs, the rapper known as "The God" posed the collabo question to God's Son.
"I'mma ask a question," Rakim said to Nas and everyone in the room. "Me and Nas, we been talking about this for a long time. Our people around us been talking about it and the whole world [has been talking about it], but it's about time, man.
"We gotta do a joint together, man. We gotta do a joint."
"We got to," Nas answered with a smile.
"I'm working on my sh-- now, I know you working on yours, I got some things in my mind," Rakim continued. "If it's both [albums we collaborate on], that's even better. Let's think about that in the next few weeks."
"Yeah dawg, that's done," Nas responded before the MCs began exchanging numbers. "It's done. I'm glad you brought that up."
"MTV, you got it first," Rakim said with excitement. "Hopefully we'll find the right chemistry and right track — because you know [Nas] as well as me, we not going to do it if it don't make sense. [It's gotta be] on and poppin'. I just wanted to get that out of the way, because it's [been] a long time coming."
Rakim said his forthcoming LP, The Seventh Seal, should be wrapped up within the next two months. He said he's teamed up with some investors and has started up his own label; however, his new LP will be distributed through a major label.
"I just wanted to feel free with the way I like doing what I do," Ra explained. "It's hard to do an album where Rakim is pleased, the label is pleased and the world is pleased. I figured [going the independent route], I could do it because I know what the world wants. Hopefully I'll be able to give it to them."
Meanwhile, Nas is tight-lipped about his forthcoming LP, which is his first offering under the Def Jam umbrella (see "Nas On 'Partnering With' Jay-Z: 'I'm Ready To Go — I'm Ready To Kick Ass' "). Rakim is just one of many in the hip-hop community anticipating Nas' next album.
"I always respected Nas," Rakim said. "He was always a lyricist, and I always respect a true lyricist. Me and Nas got a rapport, we go back. He used to come up to Power Play Studios [located not far from Nas' home base in the Queensbridge neighborhood of New York City] when I was working on my early albums. Watching him grow, and having respect for him and getting respect from him, is a beautiful thing."
It goes without saying that Nas and Rakim are two of the best MCs of all time — but did they make it onto MTV's "Greatest MCs of All Time"? Keep checking "The Greatest MCs of All-Time" feature throughout the week to find out — and don't miss "Unveiling the Kings: The Five Greatest MCs Of All Time," premiering on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. on MTV2.