Nas is Like.. I remember hearing Nas. The rapper who took the game by storm with his debut classic album Illmatic. Admittedly I was too young to remember that album. First of all, I was young in 94. I was listening to rap of course, but I live in Tulsa. We bumpin' West Coast rap like Snoop Doggs Doggystyle. But when Nas did come onto my radar was more around the album “It Was Written” with the hit track “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)" that featured one of the queens, Lauren Hill.
It was with this breakout record that Nas really was introduced to a wider audience with this crossover track. The kid from Queensbridge was well on his way to being a legend. But that was 1996 and this is 2022. The crazy thing though is that Nas is still putting out classic tapes. But is Nas still relevant? 21 Savage had something to say that stirred all the internets up during a Twitter space conversation where he said, "he isn’t really relevant anymore.”.
First I couldn’t believe my ears. The Nas slander. Had he not heard the classics he had put out? Had he not heard the King’s Disease series? But then I had to sit with it and really analyze things. Is 21 Savage talking about longevity or popularity? These are 2 totally separate things. First, we must define the word relevant. One of the definitions for relevant are appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest. So with this definition is Nas still relevant? I say yes. Nas’s new album King’s Disease 3 garnered media attention from all the major publications from Pitchfork, to Complex, to Genius, and the list goes on. Then there’s social media where Nas and King’s Disease III was a trending topic on Twitter and also showed up on the Explore pages on Instagram. Is this not relevantcy?
If what 21 Savage really is talking about is popularity, then that I can’t argue with that. Nobody is really playing Nas's songs in the club. But that’s never been Nas. He’s never been a single type of artist. He’s always made cohesive albums that has helped him build a loyal fanbase and longevity. But that’s what’s so great about Nas. His music is something that people go back to and listen. I don’t think too many people are going back to 21 Savage’s old albums and listening. He really doesn’t have classic albums that have that replay value. Which albums last longer than singles and albums usually translate to album sales. People are more likely to buy a nostalgic album, than buy a nostalgic single because you can stream a single on YouTube for free. But with a nostalgic album, you breathe it. You live it. You are emersed into it because it has songs that are relatable and that you can play in every scenario in life. And that’s what NAS DID!
But what about the numbers? Like Jay rapped. Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t”. Let’s look at the numbers. The project, which is entirely produced by Hit-Boy, managed to move a total 47,000 units in its first week. Of that number, 28,000 were streaming equivalent units (aka 36.17 million on-demand song streams), 18,000 were pure album sales (boosted by merchandise/album bundles) and 1,000 were track equivalent units. It was also Number 1 on iTunes US Albums chart. If that’s not relevant I don’t know what is.
But at the same time 21 Savage gave everyone the ammunition to set the internet a blaze. Let’s be real. He never disrespected but he did disrespect the fact that artists can be relevant without being in your face every day. And that’s what NAS DID.
So, is Nas still relevant? The numbers speak for themselves. He’s more relevant and he’s still putting out classic albums. Just because it's not in the club doesn't mean it's not charting. 21 Savage should be glad that Nas is still relevant because it can only help him as he goes into the later stages of his career. Nas is showing you the blueprint. And we didn't even talk about his Angel Investing which has helped him make way more money than music has. And that's something 21 Savage can definitely learn from. If you still don't believe me, go listen to the King's Disease III album.
Leave a comment and me know what you think.