Cover Story Uncut: Nas "Return of The Don"

Cover Story Uncut: Nas "Return of The Don"

How has your relationship with women changed, now that you’re older and you’ve been divorced?

When I see them now, I’m just taken aback by the beauty of women. Yeah, there was a time when I only saw big breasts and thick asses. Now, I see the beauty in the subtleties. Those are even better than the tits and the ass. The aesthetics have just changed, for me. They became something else.

It’ll be how a woman smiles or her specific shape.

 

Michelle Obama, to me, is the most beautiful woman on the planet.

 

Yeah.

It may just be something that you don’t see often. She might not be the prettiest or the most video, but there’s something super special about her...

That makes her pretty. No disrespect to women when I say bad bitch, but my definition of a bad bitch is not always the video vixens. A bad bitch could be a younger woman, in her early 20’s, but wise beyond her years. It could be a woman in her late 30’s, who’s cool as hell and smart and has great motherly qualities, or she’s great with her children, or has great motivational skills or is a powerful mover and shaker in her own career.

Like Michelle Obama is sexy to me.

Michelle Obama, to me, is the most beautiful woman on the planet.

Just her presence.

Yeah.

You can feel that she feels.

Right. She cares about people. Like, all first ladies have their jobs to do, but you can definitely feel her sincerity.

It’s magnetic.

Those are the new aesthetics, for me, that I love about women.

You always seem to have an awareness about energy. Do you read people’s energy? I see vampires, sometimes. I see a person, and I can just sense that I’m not going to win in this exchange, if I stay too long.

Right. That’s a gift. I feel that I’m gifted in that way, maybe cursed in that way, too. I definitely see it for what it is. I sense energy, big.

Why do you say it’s a curse?

Because sometimes, being oblivious to things—ignorance is bliss. You just go about your life and mosey on along, and nothing bothers you, and it’s cool. But when you see it, it bothers you. It weighs on your mind, and then it becomes a matter of your decisions. You have to make decisions, based on this energy.

One time, I was with some Japanese cats, and we were talking some business. We were talking about meeting some financiers from Japan, and we were going to go there to meet them. And he gave me some insight about what we were about to walk into.

He said, “Listen, these guys don’t care if you’re the biggest star in the world or how you do this or that, or that people are into your brand. They want to sit down and check your aura and your energy. That’s how they’re going to do this deal. They’ve got money. It’s not about making money. They just want to be around great energy.” And that’s always been a part of me. Once I sense wack shit in people, I’m off of it. I don’t care how they look at it. I’m off of it.

 

I feel like, there’s too many artists that are stuck in the ’90s, and they feel like, if it doesn’t sound like the ’90s, it ain’t hip-hop. That’s bullsh*t. That’s them making excuses for themselves, because they didn’t know how to evolve, and their sh*t is a wrap

 

You spoke about brand, and I think about all these rappers that got stuck in the ‘90s. Technology changed a lot of it, communicati

ng with your fans, being in the spotlight. The rules are changed, in a lot of ways.

Right.

How do you negotiate the new media?

First of all, I feel like, there’s too many artists that are stuck in the ’90s, and they feel like, if it doesn’t sound like the ’90s, it ain’t hip-hop. That’s bullshit. That’s them making excuses for themselves, because they didn’t know how to evolve, and their shit is a wrap. Their career is a wrap. They know their shit’s a wrap, and they’re trying to make excuses about why they don’t like hip-hop. They should retire. There’s so many artists, I should list them. I should list them. There’s so many who should retire, and I think it’s obvious that they should retire. I think today, if you’re an artist, if you really love music, we’ll know. We’ll see the things that you are doing, we’ll hear it in your music.

We’ll judge a tree by its fruit.

Yeah. Like, when I did “Nasty,” I did that on purpose. That was done purposely to sound ’90s, just because we wanted to. We didn’t expect to be hailed as whatever, because we did that. We just have the ability to do it. I’m from that era, so we just wanted to do it. That doesn’t mean that everybody else should do it.

That just says that I have something to offer to people, that I’ve got something coming. Don’t expect an entire ’90s album necessarily. That’s not this record, but if you feel like it’s ’90s, if it means ’90s to you, if ’90s is everything to you, then I’m glad I can give you that. But that’s not what I’m here doing.

I’m just doing what feels good. With the technology and the way things are today, you could embrace it and have a great time by embracing it, or you could sit back and say, “To hell with everybody. I’m going to be a caveman and do things my way.” It’s whatever makes you happy.

For me, I participate with the new wave. I’m down with that. It’s cool, even though I don’t always love it. I’m not crazy about the internet. It’s amazing.

Do you find yourself researching stuff?

Yeah.

Are you crazy on YouTube?

Crazy on YouTube. I’m crazy on Google. It’s just information. I may be looking for something, and I might not find the answers I’m looking for, and a month later, it’ll finally get up there. So I always check on things. I was obsessed with Bumpy Johnson, and just learning about him.

He was an important figure, socialite in New York, who happened to make his money from illegal business, like a lot of New Yorkers back in his day. And he was an incredible figure and historical figure. There was a book by Mayme Johnson—his wife—and that book is basically a Black history book. So when that book came out, I saw it online, and I ordered it. So yeah, the internet gives me a lot.

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