"I celebrated having another #1 album in the country," he said of his last LP, Hip Hop Is Dead. "I was on the Virgin Islands on New Year's Day, I got the news I had another #1 album. I think I made some heads turn. I did my thing: no radio. Not much radio spins. Now I wanna have fun with the radio. I'll still try to reach for a higher ground and come sometime in December.
Esco is already halfway done with the project, and he expects to have the first music from the album hit in October. The collaborations with Will.I.Am that he previously told Mixtape Monday about have been scrapped.
"Nah," he said when asked whether those records would be making the cut. "Some landed on other people's albums. It wasn't time for that type of sh–, so I let 'em go. But Will's a genius. I worked with new producers, but I'm sure me and Will gonna holla again."
You're probably wondering about his answer to the requisite "Is DJ Premier going to be working on the album?" question. Well, as for Primo's involvement, Nas gave a mysterious "who knows?" The powerful poet wasn't any more forthcoming about the title for his next one, but he did say to expect something "powerful and provocative."
"I can't reveal it yet," he said. "But if you remember, the original name for Hip Hop Is Dead was N—a. It was ahead of its time. [When the news leaked,] Def Jam immediately went out there and said I was being facetious. But that was the name of my album. I don't be out there with everybody. But I want them to know I'm heavily involved. That's why I do the titles I do. Hip Hop Is Dead was a great substitute. It was perfect timing for that joint."
Timing was not on his side for the would-be Hip Hop Is Dead singles and videos "Hustlers" (featuring Game) and "Black Republican" with Jay-Z.
"Yeah, man, I like to just put it out there that we shot a video for 'Hustlers,' " Nas explained. "These guys still got the video, actually. The guy who shot the video, [R.] Malcolm Jones, is a different type of cat, man. I don't know what's going on with it, but they took too long. They been needing time. Then Spike Lee was set to [direct] 'Black Republican,' but me and Spike couldn't come up with the perfect idea, so we let it ride as one of them tracks that was just there. [Hip Hop Is Dead] to me was gonna be shot like Thriller. But sometimes I feel like I don't wanna do that. I don't wanna hog up the radio waves, hog up the video waves. I let everybody else eat, 'cause I'm eating. Been eating for so many years. I ain't hogging it up. That's basically it."
However, he might go hog-wild (no pork on his fork, though) for the new album.
"I gotta hog it up," he said of his new outlook. "People think [the videos] didn't happen 'cause it couldn't happen, and that's f—ed up 'cause I leave a lot of my listeners out there and they be fighting for me. I don't wanna feel like I'm leaving them out there. Just 'cause I'm in the cut, I don't want them to feel like I don't give a f—. Everybody else is doing as many videos as they want to. When it came to me, I was cool with it. I have a lot of real n—as out here that's behind me and f— with me. I'm so in love with them real n—as, I don't see nobody else. But I need to push my sh–. It's important. It's the norm."
Over the summer, Nas was one of the acts on the Rock the Bells tour. "That was amazing," he said. "I wasn't on all the dates. It's a great tour. We had 40,000 people in San Francisco alone. Wu-Tang were incredible. I'm thinking about doing the next one and taking it global. I'm thinking about jumping in with [the promoters] and taking it all the way global."
Sony will release a Nas yet-untitled greatest-hits LP in November, before the new studio LP drops. It will feature a couple of new records, including his collaboration with Cee-Lo.