Nas: “When You Stop Learning, Then You Stop Growing”

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In 1994, Columbia Records released the debut album, Illmatic, of a 20-year-old from Queensbridge Houses in New York City. It was lyrical, wise, infectious music that propelled the baby-faced rapper named Nas into unparalleled promise and soon into hip-hop royalty.

The rapper himself sometimes can’t believe how far he’s come since then but is thankful for the journey.

“I learn from my own stuff when I go back and we look at it and talk about it,” Nas says. “People have their own ideas and they break it down for me, what I’m saying, in even a better way than I even thought. They bring a clearer or more thought-out thing, you know what I mean? And I’m like, ‘Wow.’”

“We know how easy it is to be profiled. When I was 15 [or] 16, we were hearing how most of us black men won’t make it to be 25,” he recalled. “So, we were … on the hurry-up process – get money now, live now, have kids now, everything now – because tomorrow was not promised for the situation that we were in.”

Today, it’s about showing people from places like his Queensbridge neighborhood in Brooklyn that there are alternatives, Nas said.

“We don’t have anymore time to waste,” he added. “We need people to show them business modules and how they can get into computer programming, get into real estate, get into engineering, get into all the things that … are making this country better.”

From there, rapper gives us insight on one of his favorite subjects: being a father.  Now a father of two, both a girl and a boy, Nas is continuing his journey to learn even more from the next generation.

What Fatherhood Really Means
“It teaches you who you are. They say you don’t know yourself until you’ve been in a fight, but really, you don’t know yourself until you become a father. It’s everything.”

On Preparing For Fatherhood
“You’re never ready. You can never say, “I am ready,” you know what I mean? Some people can, but for the most part, you’re never ready. If you’ve never had a kid before, you have no way of knowing what you’re in for. It’s a beautiful thing.”