Nas Praises Jazz Great Louis Armstrong, Slick Rick and More for Black History Month
Nas is known for being one of the most prolific rappers to pick up a microphone, but he's well aware of those who came before him to pave the way for the opportunities in music that have helped him become a star.
The veteran Queens MC teams up with Google for their Black History Month series, honoring historical Black artists that have become essential to the growth and legacy of the Black community. He even name-drops jazz legend Louis Armstrong and veteran rapper Slick Rick as being "one in the same."
In a new video, Nas speaks on his upbringing with his musical parents, which includes his jazz musician father, Olu Dara, as well as the environment around him contributing to his knowledge of Black music's history.
"I would realize that the education I received from my parents and my own travels that Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and Slick Rick were one in the same," Nas states. "Native storytellers who shined a light on our purpose, preserved our legacy, and without question, rocked the house."
The Life Is Good rapper also pens an open letter for Google Arts & Culture, which details his knowledge and upbringing more in-depth. Not only did he listen to a lot of jazz while growing up in the Queensbridge projects, but he also dabbled with instruments as well.
"Black culture was an everyday thing in our household and in the streets that flowed through the great maze of our beloved Queensbridge: the housing projects that taught me and my comrades a plethora of lessons that were harsh, harrowing and humble," he writes.
After stating that he was taught that "every month" was Black History Month, he talks about being lured to the sounds of hip-hop, which include DJ Marley Marl and Eric B. and Rakim's music.
"It was a higher consciousness, with all of us in sync and on time like the hands of Big Ben," he continues. "It was an echo of freedom, the notion that someone who looked like me could have a platform to say what was important, and more importantly be funky. It was another cool little nod that would say to me, young blood, when you’re ready, the world is yours."
Watch Nas' Black History Month celebration video for Google below to hear his powerful words. Read his full letter over at Google.
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