Nas – Behind the Music – Review and Opinion
by Divino DeNegro
(Ed. note: The ascension of Nas to the now established ‘throne’ level of hip-hop culture is easily my personal favorite of 2012. This review of Nas’ VH1 ‘Behind the Music’ episode by our own Divino DeNegro artfully frames the issues regarding how hip-hop culture’s collective memory is getting co-opted and confounded by the current generation. As hip-hop matriculates into a heightened level of US mainstream prominence, this issue will be important to watch. – Marcus Dowling, EIC)
Nas is debatably the epitome of Rap music. Simple and plain. One who was obviously destined to do exactly what he is doing today and nothing else. VH1’s documentation was impressive in being able to carefully knit a chronological view into some of the things that went on in Nas’ life, paralleling his music releases throughout the eras in Hip-Hop. Especially, considering that he rarely speaks on anything personal and strictly speaks to the world through song. But, there were a few things that were surprisingly omitted from the film.
One, being Nas’ friendships with AZ, Cormega and Mobb Deep and the chaos within and around The Firm. Secondly, Nas’ competition with Biggie, (which predates Tupac’s feud against Nas) and how that set up the battle with Jay-Z. One mistake that took place in “Behind The Music”, which commonly happens in the media, is the suggestion that Nas’ “Ether” was voted as better than Jay-Z’s “The Takeover”. That event that never occurred. NY voted for “Ether” over Jay’s “Super Ugly” on Hot 97. “Super Ugly” was a reactionary mixtape response. But was heralded because of Jay’s revelation regarding his relationship with Nas’ baby mother.
Nas’ story as a person and artist stands out as his whole life has surrounded around the fact that he was to be an MC – and a legendary one at that. He’s also brought us MCs who have stapled their names in the history of the game as well, with AZ, Cormega, Foxy Brown, Nature and a few other talented artists. Nas was also the first NYC MC to record a song with Dr. Dre and especially during the assumed East coast vs West coast rivalry. Details such as these and others reveal what is Nas’ role as being a great force in shaping not only NYC Rap, but also being a necessary artist to study if you want to be a true student to the artistry of Rap music. Although lots of great pieces of information surrounding Nas was missing, VH1 did a solid job with the info that they did use. Hopefully more will detailed pieces of film will be produced in documenting Nas and his history in and around Hip-Hop.