Nas has said he no longer looks to rappers his own age to keep him inspired in the booth.
The 49-year-old rap legend was a special guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Wednesday (February 22), and he was asked which artists keep him on his toes.
As Nasty Nas explained, he isn’t motivated by his fellow Hip Hop veterans due to the simple fact that many of them are no longer active.
“I’m really trying to figure out what my next move is, and I feel like a lot of Hip Hop artists my age are not putting out a lot of material, so I can’t look to them as reference,” Nas said.
“They kind of slowed down — for whatever reasons, I understand it’s a tough thing — but I got bit by the bug, man.”
While many MCs from his generation have slowed down or fizzled out, Nas has breathed new life into his already legendary career in recent years thanks to his collaborative partnership with Hit-Boy, with whom he’s released four projects in three years — one of which won Esco his first ever Grammy.
“I collaborated with this cat Hit-Boy who’s like the best, and he’s produced all of those albums — King’s Disease 1, 2, 3. We’re kind of inspiring ourselves at this point. It’s really interesting.”
Colbert asked Nas what he sees in Hit-Boy that he’s missing in himself, and he jokingly replied: “youth.” He also described him and the multi-platinum producer as a “perfect match.”
The formidable duo proved their dominance once again last year on the feature-less King’s Disease 3.
During an interview with Apple Music, Hit-Boy revealed he had numerous artists in mind for the album and actually tested out guest vocals that he had in his stash, but ultimately he and Nas didn’t feel they were on par with what they were crafting as a two-man team.
“Honestly, it was once we got deeper into the album because I definitely was thinking and conceptualizing on who could be a part of it,” he said. “I even pulled up some features that I had in my computer from different artists and we tried stuff, but nothing really connected on a level of what we was doing solo. This is, I believe, Nas’ first album ever with no features so that’s an ill thing in itself.”
King’s Disease 3 debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 with 29,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, earning Nas his 16th top 10 album on the chart — tying him with former foe JAY-Z.
While neither Nas nor Hit-Boy have confirmed another installment, Billboard recently reported that the pair are readying King’s Disease 4, complete with a guest appearance from 50 Cent.
It would mark the Queens natives’ first collaboration in over 20 years following Nas’ two appearances on 50’s 2002 mixtape Guess Who’s Back?