Born: September 14, 1973
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Career and Life
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones aka Nas is an American rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and investor. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas has released twelve studio albums, with seven of them certified platinum and multi-platinum in the US.
His musical career began in 1991, as a featured artist on Main Source's "Live at the Barbeque". His debut album Illmatic (1994) received universal acclaim from both critics and the hip hop community and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Nas's follow-up It Was Written debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, stayed on top for four consecutive weeks, went Double Platinum in two months, and made Nas internationally known. From 2001 to 2005, Nas was involved in a highly publicized feud with Jay-Z, popularized by the diss track "Ether". Nas signed to Def Jam in 2006. In 2010, he released Distant Relatives, a collaboration album with Damian Marley, donating all royalties to charities active in Africa. His 11th studio album, Life Is Good (2012) was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.
In 2006, MTV ranked Nas at #5 on their list of "The Greatest MCs of All Time". In 2012, The Source ranked him #2 on their list of the "Top 50 Lyricists of All Time". In 2013, Nas was ranked 4th on MTV's "Hottest MCs in the Game" list. About.com ranked him first on their list of the "50 Greatest MCs of All Time" in 2014, and a year later, Nas was featured on "The 10 Best Rappers of All Time" list by Billboard. He is also an entrepreneur through his own record label; he serves as associate publisher of Mass Appeal magazine and the co-founder of Mass Appeal Records.
His father, Olu Dara (born Charles Jones III), is a jazz and blues musician from Mississippi. His mother, Fannie Ann (née Little; died 2002) was a U.S. Postal Service worker from North Carolina. He has a brother, Jabari Fret, who raps under the name Jungle and is a member of hip hop group Bravehearts. His father adopted the name "Olu Dara" from the Yoruba people. "Nasir" is an Arabic name meaning "helper and protector", while "bin" means "son of" in Arabic. As a young child, Nas and his family relocated to the Queensbridge Houses in the borough of Queens. His neighbor, Willy "Ill Will" Graham, influenced his interest in hip hop by playing him records. His parents divorced in 1985, and he dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He educated himself about African culture through the Five Percent Nation (a splinter group of the Nation of Islam) and the Nuwaubian Nation. In his early years, he played the trumpet and began writing his own rhymes.
Nas is a spokesperson and mentor for P'Tones Records, a non-profit after school music program with the mission "to create constructive opportunities for urban youth through no-cost music programs."
He is a cousin of American actress Yara Shahidi.
On June 15, 1994, Nas's ex-fiancée Carmen Bryan gave birth to their daughter, Destiny. She later confessed to Nas that she had a relationship with his then-rival rapper and nemesis Jay-Z, also accusing Jay-Z of putting subliminal messages in his lyrics about their relationship together, causing an even bigger rift in the feud between the two hit rap music giants.
Nas also briefly dated Mary J. Blige. In 2005, Nas married R&B singer Kelis in Atlanta after a two-year relationship. On April 30, 2009, a spokesperson confirmed that Kelis filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Kelis gave birth to Nas's first son on July 21, 2009, although the event was soured by a disagreement which ended in Nas announcing the birth of his son, Knight, at a gig in Queens, NY, against Kelis's wishes. The birth was also announced by Nas via an online video. The couple's divorce was finalized on May 21, 2010. In 2018, Kelis accused Nas of being physically and mentally abusive during their marriage. Nas replied to the accusations on social media, accusing Kelis of attempting to slander Nas in the time of a custody battle and accusing Kelis of abusing his daughter, Destiny.
In January 2012 Nas was involved in a dispute with a concert promoter in Angola, having accepted $300,000 for a concert in Luanda, Angola's capital for New Year's Eve and then not showing up. American promoter Patrick Allocco and his son, who arranged for Nas's concert, were detained at gunpoint and taken to an Angolan jail by the local promoter who fronted the $300,000 for the concert. Only after the US Embassy intervened were the promoter and his son allowed to leave jail—but were placed under house arrest at their hotel. As of the end of the month Nas returned all $300,000 and after 49 days of travel ban Allocco and his son were both released.
On March 15, 2012, Nas became the first rapper to have a personal verified account on Rap Genius where he explains all his own lyrics and commenting on the lyrics of other rappers he admires.
In May 2013, it was announced that Nas would open a sneaker store in Las Vegas called 12 am RUN (pronounced Midnight Run) as part of The LINQ retail development.
In July 2013, he was honored by Harvard University, as the institution established the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship, which would serve to fund scholars and artists who show potential and creativity in the arts in connection to hip hop.
In an October 2014 episode of PBS's Finding Your Roots, Nas learned about five generations of his ancestry. His great-great-great-grandmother, Pocahontas Little, was a slave who was sold for $830. When host Henry Louis Gates showed Nas her bill of sale and told him more about the man who bought her, Nas remarked that he is considering buying the land where he lived. Nas is also shown the marriage certificate of his great-great-great-grandmother, Pocahontas, and great-great-great-grandfather, Calvin.