Nas Opens-Up for 'Illmatic' Anniversary Media Blitz

Nas in "Time is Illmatic," directed by One9

Nas in "Time is Illmatic," directed by One9

Nas’ seminal debut “Illmatic” is 20 years old this week. And to celebrate the deluxe reissue “Illmatic XX,” the Queens rapper took to the Web for a digital flurry of Q&As on the Tuesday release date. 

From HuffPost Live to a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), an iTunes session run through Twitter with the hashtag #AskNas and a Talks at Google session, Nas answered hundreds of questions over the day’s course. 

It’s a lot to dig into for even the biggest hip-hop heads, so to help weigh through it all Billboard presents here a few of the best responses from his Reddit AMA:

Nas, would you mind droppin a couple words of wisdom my way?
Don't underestimate luck.

Have you ever had an encounter with a fan of your music that you remember vividly to this day? Something that stood out as unique throughout your career.
Yeah, I'm sure man. At least once a year, a fan will tell me that one of my albums helped them find a reason to not commit suicide and to go on. That's powerful. I'm humbled. And it scares the shit out of me too.

How did it feel shouting out everyone on “Where Are They Now” and then getting some of the artists mentioned to show they've still got it?
That was unreal.
That went over people's heads.
Thank you for listening to that. That meant a lot to me to get that done, and I appreciate everyone of those guys and those female rappers that cared to jump on that record. Shit like that never happens.

Favorite book.
Probably "Convictions" by Richard Pryor.

How did you end up (allegedly) ghostwriting for Will Smith?
Alright, let's clear this up once and for all.
I hung out with Will in the studio. And watched him write it. It was a fun studio session, and I said a line or two or three to him. It wasn't that serious. Will Smith wrote that song ("Gettin Jiggy Wit It")But seriously, I watched him have fun making that record on his own, and Will is a true MC.

There really is no question in my mind that "One Mic" is one of the most influential hip-hop tracks of all time. Which were the most influential for you?
(Edit) I gotta go with "One Mic' and "New York State of Mind, A Queens Story."

What artist outside of rap has had the most influence on you?
Michael Jackson.

Who has been the most fun to collaborate with and who has been the most professional?
Damian Marley. Definitely the most fun. And very wise, a very wise guy, very talented guy. And he was professional, no ID.

What are your favorite TV shows?
Modern Family, That girl, Sofia Vergara, I need her. Walking Dead. House of Cards is my shit.

Did you go by any rap names other than Nas when you first started?
Rapper Nas, and another one that I will never tell.
MC Nice was one too.

What was Biggie like in person?
Class act. Also funny. Naturally funny.
And he was a genius.

Nas' Talks at Google Interview is below (the video starts at 33:45)