Maranda Pleasant: You inspire millions of people. When I look at your work, not just lyrically or musically, but visually, you seem to have a lot of passion and purity to what you do. Can you tell me what are the things that make you feel fully alive?

Nas: Sunlight. Seeing something that was a thought become a thing and materialize – that makes me come alive.

MP: What are the things that you are deeply passionate about?

Nas: Peace and love. Watching people see their dreams – that kind of corny stuff.

MP: [laughter] That corny stuff is what I live for. What are the things that make you feel vulnerable?

Nas: I haven’t thought about that in a while. My music I guess. What I put in it. What I say about myself. People can see what I am thinking and what is important to me.

MP: What is it that grounds you or helps you keep your center in the middle of chaos?

Nas: No temporary chaos is worth your sanity. Just knowing that whatever happens, it happens to the best of them too.

MP: I’m writing this down.

Nas: Read it to yourself everyday whenever you’re feeling pressure. Absolutely nothing is worth your sanity.

MP: DJ Spooky wanted me to ask you what artists or musicians really inspire you?

Nas: Stevie Wonder – the usual suspects I guess, Banksy. More than anyone though, graffiti artists all over the world.

MP: What projects do you have coming up that you are really excited about? I know you have a TV series, Street Dreams, which is coming up.

Nas: Yes, I am really proud of the TV series. It’s a drama about my life. I’ve also got a new record coming. I’ve got a lot of surprises in the next 60 days that I want to tell people about, but I can’t yet. I’ve got a lot of things that I’m excited about and it really has me feeling so blessed.

MP: Your art is so heartfelt. If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

Nas: Don’t ever give up on yourself. Keep pushing because the change of guards is what life’s all about. At one point, the old school club retires and you’re next up to bat, but if you stop before your time, you will see someone else live your dream. You’ve got to watch as the guard changes – the whole guard changes – and you ought to know. You’ve always got to stick with whatever you’re into because you’re day is going to come. You’re day is destined. If you walk away from that, whether it be from fear or whether you’re just giving up, I think that’s the greatest sin. The greatest sin is fear and giving up.

MP: What message do you have for someone in any field who is really busting their ass for a conviction or a dream or an idea? Is that what you would say to them, that the greatest keys to your success are facing your fears and not giving up?

Nas: Always observe, watch, and talk to older people.

MP: Chuck D is the only other person who said to me that the way to get wisdom and success is by talking to older people.

Nas: My pops told me that. Chuck D is one of my heroes.

MP: Do you meditate at all or how do you keep your mind centered?

Nas: I don’t meditate. Silence is golden though. Just sitting in silence is one of the best things a man can do. Maybe that is meditating [laughter].

MP: Is there anything else that you are working on right now?

Nas: I’ve been painting. I did the album cover for the 20th and we’re going to auction those off and give the money to charity. The whole thing is, do as much as you can, when you possibly can, and don’t stress. Just do as much as you can. That’s what I am doing with these paintings. That will all be happening around the release of the 20th of the album, the show, together as a collective, they’re all coming out around the same time and that is my contribution to the planet right now. From the heart and that’s that.

Photo: Danny Clinch 

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