But the split between the rap legend and his R&B wife four years later was just as public and all too ugly. As the expectant "Milkshake" singer accused her husband of abandoning her mid-pregnancy in legal filings, allegations of infidelity burned up the blogs.
Things got "crazy," the pride of Queensbridge, New York, said on Wednesday's "RapFix Live." The divorce thrust Nas into the New York tabloids, where he was alternately painted as the victim of a gold-digging star and a cheater who callously hid the ATM cards with a baby on the way. Having stayed mostly mum over the years, Nas was ready to tell Sway his side.
"Life is crazy," the famously private MC said. "I [wound] up paying more money to baby mommas than what some of my rap brothers and sistren make."
At the time, several outlets reported that Kelis was seeking about $45,000 a month in child and spousal support from the father of two, daughter Destiny from a previous relationship and son Knight with the "Bossy" singer. The figure was formally reduced last year by a court to a $25,000 month, but the scrutiny left Nas scarred.
"I've always been away from too much limelight and that right there put me in your — no one's exempt from people probing into your life once you get into the game," he conceded. "So [the divorce] put a lot of my business out there, man. People weren't thinking I was making that kind of money, and now they knew."
The handsome single rapper — a record number of MTV's female staffers suddenly turned up on set this week — paused to reflect on what advice he'd give to a newly engaged couple. He looked away, the "God's Son" tattoo on his neck visible for a split second, before responding.
"Man, if you're happy," he sighed and then paused again. "Love is a beast. Hold on, be prepared for any way it may go, and be honest."
Nas' tax woes have also made the front page, but he declined to discuss the topic, promising instead to confront it on Life Is Good.
Of course, it's been more than four years since Nasty Nas dropped a solo full-length. And the multiplatinum lyrical legend has teased fans with spotty output. Still, the 39-year-old has impressed with recent features like Rick Ross' "Triple Beam Dreams" and tracks like this month's dancehall-flavored "The Don," which managed to slay rap purists and trend on Twitter.
But more important, these were signals that a release might be in the offing. All this anticipation for a rapper who was just out of his teens when he dropped his seminal debut, Illmatic, back in 1994. We'd say life is pretty good for Nas.