For over two decades, Queens rapper Nas has provided the world with scintillating stories about street life, social injustice and the black man’s plight through his music. With BET ordering the pilot for a TV series titled Street Dreams based on Nasir Jones’ real life, rap fans will be able to relive the ’90s and witness the rise of one of hip-hop’s G.O.A.T.s.
“I am so humbled by the opportunity BET has given me to share my story with the world,” Nas shared in an Instagram post. “The early ‘90s in Queens, New York: It was the best of times, the worst of times and the realest of times for me and my peoples.”
Below are 9 of Nas’ biggest highlights that we hope to see in Street Dreams.
Spitting a show-stealing verse on “Live at the BBQ”
Nas’ introduction to the rap game began in the summer of 1991 when he teamed up with mentor/producer Large Professor. At 17, he teamed up with Main Source and demolished his verse on “Live at the Barbecue.”
Releasing his debut album, Illmatic
In 1994, Nas torched the rap scene when he released his debut opus Illmatic. Stacked with quintessential New York anthems like “Life’s a B—h,” “New York State of Mind” and “One Love,” Nas won the hearts of hip hop purists. The album is widely recognized as a certified classic in the rap world and is a blueprint for many of today’s biggest artists.
Releasing “Hate Me Now” video
In 1999, Nas joined forces with Diddy (then Puff Daddy) to create the fiery standout “Hate Me Now,” which featured the firespitter flipping the finger to his detractors: “Don’t hate me, hate the money I see, clothes that I buy/Ice that I wear, flows that I try, close your eyes/Picture me rollin’, sixes, money foldin’/B—hes, honeys that swollen to riches, Nas get in ya,” he rapped. The Hype Williams-directed visual proved to be just as intense as Nas’ bars as both him and Puff are crucified.
Feuding with Jay Z
In 2001, one of hip-hop’s biggest feuds with Nas facing off against Jay Z. Embroiled in a heated heavyweight bout ignited by Jay Z debuting “Takeover” at Hot 97’s Summer Jam, Nas then fired back with the scathing response record “Ether.”
Four years later, Jay Z vowed to air out rappers at his “I Declare War” concert at New Jersey’s Continental Arena, only to use the platform to promote peace. Fans roared when Hov brought out Nas to perform “Dead Presidents,” signaling their truce after a long-winded battle.
Teaming with Foxy Brown & AZ to form The Firm
In 1997, Nas formed a supergroup with AZ, Foxy Brown and Nature called The Firm. Backed by super producer Dr. Dre, The Firm released their only studio effort The Album via Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records in 1997.
Starring in Belly with DMX
Lauded as a cult classic in hip-hop, Belly was a huge step in Nas’ career. In 1998, he, alongside a young DMX, stepped onto the big screen despite both of them being acting novices. Nas was also instrumental in helping director Hype Williams write the script for the crime-laden film.
Signing to Def Jam
After calling a truce with Jay Z, Nas elected to sign with him at Def Jam Records while the Brooklyn rapper was serving as the label’s president. In an interview with MTV News, Nas backed up his decision to join forces with Jay Z. “At this point of the game, this was inevitable,” he said. “What direction is out there for us to follow? At the end of the day, it’s bigger than both of us in this rap thing.”
After collaborating on “In Public” and “Hey Nas,” Kelis and Nas realized their chemistry went beyond the studio. On Jan. 8 2005, Nas tied the knot with singer. Sadly, things failed between the former lovebirds in 2010, when Kelis filed for divorce. While pregnant with their son, Knight Jones, Kelis accused her beau of infidelity. Later, she pinned Nas for a whopping $25,000 a month for child support. In 2012, Nas revealed that his relationship with Kelis scarred him.
“There was a point where we were trying to hold onto a relationship that was finished,” Nas revealed on the end of his marriage. “She was pregnant and in the studio while we were recording Distant Relatives, and he would move when the music would come on. That was a great feeling for me, just to have that feeling of family. It ended around the time the record was being done.”
Releasing Life is Good
In 2012, Nas released his most personal work to date with Life is Good. The cover featured a pensive Nas sitting on the couch with Kelis’ green wedding dress in hand; the same dress that she left in his closet after their messy divorce. Laced with poignant records including “Daughters,” “Bye Baby” and the Amy Winehouse-assisted, “Cherry Wine,” Nas scripted one of his most honest and endearing albums in recent memory.