In 2006, Nas’ Hip Hop is Dead album proved to be controversial for many reasons. While critics lauded the project for speaking hidden truths about the demise of the culture, fans scolded Nas for lashing out at the genre. To provide a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of the Queens’ rapper’s eighth studio effort, Mass Appeal teamed with Google Play Music to present a four-part video series honoring the LP’s 10-year anniversary.
To kick off the series, Mass Appeal released the first two videos featuring the inspiration behind Hip Hop is Dead and the creation of the lead single for the album.
“At that point in time one of the things that was buzzing was ‘Hip hop is dead.’ I’m hearing everybody saying that under their breath,” he says in the first clip. “I remember when De La Soul is Dead album came out. I liked that they were able to do something different like that. I never saw anybody kill off themselves and I felt like it would be dope if I could say something like ‘Hip-hop is dead’ that would make some of the young guys realize that not only can you follow what’s happening today but you can go back into the history.”
In the following video, Nas discusses about how will.i.am accidentally used the same sample from his previous album cut “Thieves Theme” as a building block for his first single on Hip Hop is Dead.
“Since Hip Hop is Dead, why not use the beat from the single from the previous album on the new single? You know, will.i.am didn’t know that. He didn’t know I had the same track. He pieced the record together based off of pieces I left in the studio. When he played me the record, I was like, ‘That’s it. The same sample from “Thieves Theme.”‘ And I told him and he’s like, ‘What?’ And I’m not like, ‘No. We’re using this. This is perfect.'”
The forthcoming videos will feature Nas’ decision to link up with Jay Z for “Black Republicans” for the album and its placement in hip-hop history today.
Check out the first two clips below.