NEW YORK — Nas has kept albums pretty spaced out for most of his career, but he’s in such a zone right now that he doesn’t want to waste any time. Not even a month after releasing Hip Hop Is Dead, the MC is planning to jump right back in the studio and release an LP sometime this year.
“New album is in the making right now,” Nas said Sunday night, sitting in his trailer outside the set of his new video for “Can’t Forget About You.” (Click here to see photos of Nas on the video’s NYC set.) ” ’07, new Nas album, I can’t wait. I’m not finished. I feel like something is starting right now. This is a momentum and a movement that’s happening out here. I gotta make sure I stay the captain of this ship and push it forward. I’m here at Def Jam, I’m renaming it the Black Oasis. You bring Nas into any situation like the situation that’s at Def Jam and you gonna get nothing but the top of the line.
“Look,” he continued after a long pause, grinning. “I’m sounding like I’m really feeling myself right now. But real talk, I’m really feeling myself again. ’07, I’m gonna drop again and see what’s really good with y’all out there. … When it comes to this, man, sometimes when you’re feeling it, you gotta just let it go.”
Even with a potential classic in his sights, Nas said he’s far from done with his #1-debuting LP Hip Hop Is Dead (see “Nas Proves Hip-Hop Is Alive And Well With Third Career #1” ).
“Ah, man, going into the year the way I went into the year was real good,” he said. “The irony of a title like Hip Hop Is Dead being #1, what is that? That’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, it’s real big. It feels like a good time. I’m excited, I’m loving the rap game, the potential that it has to grow. A lot of people thought that because I was hating the state of the rap game, I was hating rappers. I don’t hate. It’s just that there were a lot of rappers that were corny. There’s always going to be corny rappers. They didn’t understand the message. People were not getting it. It’s a slow process, but it’s all good. We’re going to keep grinding, keep giving them more, showing them more. This is a record that’s going to take time. We gonna push it on them for the whole year.
“With an album like this and a title like Hip Hop Is Dead, this is going to be a long burial,” he continued. “You plant it, then maybe we could get some rain to fall, then you see stuff start sprouting and maybe get something reborn out here. But right now I’m at the funeral service, man. We got more material that’s going to be showed to the world. I don’t wanna stop this record. I usually fade out and not be a part of the scene … but this one right here don’t matter. I’m not even thinking about too much attention. I’m not thinking that. I’m thinking this one gotta play all the way out.”
Nas and Def Jam are talking about making videos for “Hustlers,” which features the Game, or even his duet with Jay-Z, “Black Republicans.” But for now, the track is “Can’t Forget About You.” He shot the video Saturday and Sunday with director Chris Robinson. On Sunday, God’s Son wore a tuxedo and bowtie, recalling the days he was suited up on the regular with the Firm in his Nas Escobar phase. On Saturday, Nas had taken his look back even further to the It Was Written days. He was shot on top of a triple-decker bus that cruised through Manhattan, similar to how he glided through those same streets in the clip for “If I Ruled the World.”
“The concept of the video is [that] I put a lot of things on the map,” he explained in his trailer, with friends like Swizz Beatz looking on. “Whether it’s the pink-suit thing or the real dress-up look for the rappers. I been doing it for so long, and right now is a good moment in the ’07. It’s a good time to get that energy going.”
If you’ve heard the single, you know the Will.I.Am-produced track uses a sample of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” Nas felt it was only right that he pay the legend’s family tribute by inviting the legendary singer’s daughter, Natalie Cole, to participate in filming on Sunday.
“I’m friends with [Def Jam A&R rep] J. Brown, and he said, ’Nas wants you to be in the video.’ I said ’OK,’ ” said Natalie Cole, wearing a black suit, Chuck Taylor sneakers and a pendant of a crown (to pay homage to her famous father). “I hadn’t heard [the song yet]. But I’ve heard of Nas, and I thought it was cool. I knew we had already given the license for the use of ’Unforgettable.’ I think it’s great every time I see the hip-hop world reaching back and getting great vintage stuff. I think the title [’Can’t Forget About You’], it’s appropriate. Then Nas got on the phone, we talked, and here I am.”
“It was just an idea I wanted,” Nas elaborated about reaching out to Cole. “It’s a given, though, if we use the track. Nobody could forget what she did with the record, her and her father,” he added, referring to the 1991 album on which Natalie sang a posthumous duet with her father using a track of his original vocal. That was one of the most major moments in music. With the family and what the song meant to a generation before her and our generation when she did it with her father. I’m not blood-related, but I’m musically related, and I guess I’m the child of their generation and I’m bridging the gap from Nat King Cole to Natalie Cole to Nas King Cole, and we’re going to make it one family all over again.”
Natalie Cole isn’t the only female co-star Nas has in the video. R&B newcomer Chrisette Michele (Jay-Z’s “Lost Ones”) makes her video debut. The Long Island native, who appears four times on Hip-Hop Is Dead (“Not Going Back,” “Still Dreaming,” “Hope” and, of course, “Can’t Forget Abut You”), said she was able to get on the album after Nas heard her freestyling over one of his incomplete tracks.
“I was introduced to Chrisette just from her being in the Def Jam family,” Nas said. “When I heard her, I wanted to work with her more. She’s an incredible writer and an incredible singer. It’s something about her voice that’s just the truth.”