You’d be hard-pressed to find any music fan who wouldn’t count Nas among the greatest of hip-hop poets, but the folks at CNN took things a step further when they crowned the Illmatic as the greatest lyricist of all time.
Nas himself didn’t claim the spot, however. “It’s wayyyyyy, way, way too early in our lives,” God’s Son told CNN about the title they bestowed upon him. “It’s great to put a list together, but don’t take it too seriously because your list won’t matter 10 years from now or 15 years from now. It’ll be a different list.”
Saturday’s article separated “lyricist” from “hip-hop artist” and disregarded record sales to focus on the colorful lyrics that make tracks like “The World is Yours,” “If I Ruled the World,” “Once Mic” and last year’s “Daughters” sonic treasures. Nasir’s last LP Life is Good was counted by many as one of 2012′s best rap albums and surely gave the hip-hop veteran new life in his illustrious 19-year career. Other rap greats were considered, but CNN ruled against the likes of Eminem, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Too $hort, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G. and Nas’ one-time rival Jay-Z.
CNN used the earth-stopping 2001 battle between the two titans to help illustrate their point using Jay’s own “Takeover” lyric as proof. On the Kanye West-produced track Hov admitted to using a popular Nas lyric on his 1996 “Dead Presidents” single. “So yeah, I sampled your voice; you was using it wrong/ You made it a hot line; I made it a hot song,” Jay-Z once boasted on “Takeover” dissing Nas, but praising him for his wordplay.
Nas is widely believed to be the victor in he and Jay’s clash, and to strengthen their argument, CNN pointed to a 2006 MTV News interview with both spitters, where Jigga acknowledges the Life is Good rapper as “one of the best lyricists ever. ”
Where Jay stopped short of declaring Nas the one, CNN saw no problem in anointing God’s Son. Still Nas is quite sure that there will one day be a new MC to over take his place in the annals of rap, just as many believe he supplanted 1980s icon Rakim . “There was never a next Rakim. There’s only one Rakim, and you can compare people to me, which is a great honor to me, but those guys are really on their path to becoming great Kendricks and greater Lupes,” he said. “I think it took years after Illmatic, after my first record, before people started to get used to me and started to get into what I was all about and what the Nas story was.”
Do you believe Nas is the greatest lyricist of all time? Sound off in the comments!