The Perpetual Evolution of Nas

“I love the stage. On the stage, I puff up. I become something bigger.”

The Perpetual Evolution of Nas | Esquire
It’s been 24 years since Nas released Illmatic—n auspicious, gritty debut still considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever recorded—and you don’t achieve that type of career longevity by playing it safe or doing the expected. Take, for example, the 44-year-old 13-time Grammy nominee’s recently released Illmatic Live from the Kennedy Center, a recasting of his earliest material with accompaniment by the National Symphony Orchestra. (The performance originally aired on PBS, which is not something every rap artist can list on the ol’ résumé.) As Nas told Esquire a few years ago: “These days, to be gangster is to grow, to survive, to inspire, to change the world.”