Nas has become such a fixture in the culture that it’s hard to imagine a time where he was a newcomer, forced to win listeners over with a strong first impression. Luckily for both him and the rap game at large, the young Queensbridge emcee came out swinging with “Halftime,” the first official single of his career. Released on this very day in 1992, twenty-eight years ago to be specific, the lyrically-dense track eventually found a home on Nas’ acclaimed debut Illmatic.
Over a jazzy beat from longtime Nas collaborator Large Professor, the rapper immediately turned heads with a ridiculously sharp flow and impeccable punchlines. “I drop jewels, wear jewels, hope to never run it, with more kicks than a baby in a mother’s stomach,” he raps, with a decidedly old-school flavor to his flow. “Nasty Nas has to rise ‘cause I’m wise / this is exercise til the microphone dies.” All things considered, “Halftime” sparked the beginning of an incredible run, arguably one of the best that rap has ever seen. Be sure to take a moment to reflect on where it all began, and show some love to the one and only Nasty Nas.
Back in ’83 I was an MC sparkin’
But I was too scared to grab the mics in the parks and
Kick my little raps cause I thought ni**as wouldn’t understand
And now in every jam, I’m the fuckin’ man
I rap in front of more ni**as than in the slave ships
I used to watch “CHiPs”, now I load Glock clips