Nas Talks Foreseeing Hip Hop’s Global Success On ‘The Late Show’

The legendary emcee prepares to headline an MSG show for the first time.

Back in 2021, Nasir “Nas” Jones announced Hip Hop 50, a special three-year-long initiative honoring Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary. The Showtime network presented original programming dedicated to the celebration.

Nas also turns 50 years old later this year. The rap icon’s discography spans four decades. His King’s Disease album trilogy released between 2020 and 2022 earned the New Yorker some of the best reviews of his career.

When Nas dropped the classic Illmatic in 1994, Hip Hop had just reached the legal drinking age. There was still uncertainty about the culture’s future at the time. Stephen Colbert asked the Mass Appeal Records boss if he foresaw Hip Hop becoming the global phenomenon it is today.

“I did. I saw the potential,” Nas responded. “When it was in the early stages, the early 80s, I would ask older people like my dad and mom, ‘What do you think about this?’ I would ask them, ‘Do you like this? Do you get it?’ Some songs, yes. Some songs, no. But when they did get it, I said, ‘There’s hope.'”

The venture capitalist/philanthropist continued, “When [Hip Hop] made it to the silver screen – there were movies like Breakin’, Beat Street, and Krush Groove – I said if it can make it to the silver screen, it’s gonna be around.”

Nas Heads To MSG In His Hometown For A One-Night-Only Concert

On Friday, Nas will headline a performance inside The World’s Most Famous Arena, New York City’s historic Madison Square Garden, for the first time. The “King’s Disease Trilogy – One Night Only” concert comes on the heels of King’s Disease III arriving on DSPs in November.

“It’s sort of surreal. It’s like a dream,” said Nas about his upcoming MSG show. “I never thought I would be there. I thought about when I got into music. And I thought like, ‘I gotta play that place when I make it.’ All the years escaped me because I got busy doing so many other things. Then I started releasing music again so I said now is the right time.”

King’s Disease III became Nas’s sixteenth Top 10 album on the Billboard 200 chart. 2020’s King’s Disease and 2021’s King’s Disease II made it into the Top 10 as well. The first two installments of the Hit-Boy-produced LPs earned Nas back-to-back Best Rap Album nominations at the Grammy Awards. King’s Disease won Best Rap Album in 2021.

Nas landed at the top of the Billboard 200 chart on six occasions. It Was Written was his first chart-topper in 1996. He had the most popular album in America with 1999’s I Am…, 2006’s Hip Hop Is Dead, 2008’s Untitled, and 2012’s Life Is Good. The Queens native also hit the Billboard 200’s pinnacle with The Firm: The Album by Hip Hop supergroup The Firm.