Before Nas rose to become one of hip-hop's most celebrated rap veterans, there were a bevy of black musicians who came before him who would go on to play a pivotal role in shaping hip-hop and music as a whole. In honor of Black History Month, Nas penned an open letter celebrating the work of black musical greats and how they had a profound impact on his life as part of Google Arts & Culture's Black History Month celebration.
As a budding rapper, Nas recalled music being all around him when he was growing up in Queens, New York. "We had oodles of instruments at the family crib, many of them with origins in the Motherland," Nas wrote. "It was through the blues and jazz and folk music that my father played that I learned the importance of our history -- our African ancestry, our struggles here as black Americans and, ultimately, our great triumphs too."