In an article published yesterday on CNN titled A case for Nas, hip-hop’s finest MC, Eliott C. McLaughlin calls Nas“the greatest lyricist of all time.” In the article, he argues that Nas deserves the status of G.O.A.T. lyricist because of his longevity and ability, and explains why he ranks Nas higher than Jay-Z, 2Pac, Biggie, Eminem, and the rest. As for Nas, he’s not ready to compile a list of the greatest rappers just yet. In the article, he’s quoted saying, ”It’s wayyyyyy, way, way too early in our lives. It’s great to put a list together, but don’t take it too seriously because your list won’t matter 10 years from now or 15 years from now. It’ll be a different list.” As for Nas’ thoughts on 2Pac and Biggie, he says, “I just think Biggie was something else. He was the Hitchcock of this thing, man. He told you a story. There was a seriousness that came with it that can’t compare with nothing.” He adds, ”I’d probably be better if they were still around. I think I’d be a lot better.”
Read excerpts from the article below.
With “Life is Good,” Nas dropped his ninth No. 1 hip-hop album since 1994. Seven of those have gone platinum, which places him second among rappers only to Jay-Z with 11. (We’re not counting compilations or collaborations here, only original solo efforts, and yes, Tupac Shakur had nine, but five were posthumous releases.)It also ties Nas with Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion or whatever his name is, and it puts the Queens native one plaque ahead of Eminem, Too Short, OutKast and LL Cool J, all of whom belong in the greatest-ever discussion, as well.
On Jay-Z vs. Nas:
Here is where that “lyricist” v. “hip-hop artist” distinction becomes important. Jay-Z said it best himself: He’s not a businessman; he’s a business, man. When you consider 11 of his albums have sold at least a million copies — seven of those 2 million or more — as have his four collaborations, two with R. Kelly and one each with Linkin Park and Kanye West, it’s as if Hova is King Midas, but with platinum.He’s a hit maker extraordinaire, maybe the world’s best, but that doesn’t translate to best lyricist. Jay-Z acknowledged as much on “Moment of Clarity” when he rhymed, “If skills sold, truth be told/I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.”
Even in dissing Nas on “Takeover,” he explained why he had sampled Nas’ lyrics on “Dead Presidents”: “So yeah, I sampled your voice; you was using it wrong/you made it a hot line; I made it a hot song.” And that, friends, is the crux of the debate: hot lines vs. hot songs. No one would deny Hova his dap, but it seems he has said, in both word and action, that it’s tough to top Nas.
Do you agree? Is Nas the G.O.A.T. rap lyricist?