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The June/July issue of Complex Magazine features Nas on the cover with accompanying profile/interview. Dubbed “Return of the Don,” the Queesbridge emcee is readying his latest studio album Life is Good which has people whispering that it’s his best work since Illmatic. Touching on an array of topics – from musical evolution to personal life pitfalls – choice excerpts appear below while the entire piece can be read over at Complex.
Life is Good will be your tenth solo album. Is this a watershed moment for you, or just another album?
This is different. The way you work, your approach, is different each time. I’m at a cool, mature, easy place.
You’re one of the few cats who can do gangster and Rasta and still maintain your frame of reference. It seems contradictory—Rasta and gangster—but is it?
Nah. “The Don” actually came from hanging around Rastas. That’s how we would greet each other when I was with the Marleys. That’s just big boss business. When people put on images—like being a gangster or a street guy—then you’re your own worst enemy. I’m an artist. I like to make the music that I like to make. If not, then you’ll be stuck trying to be a character. I’ve seen that happen to a lot of artists.
You become a caricature of yourself?
As much as the people want you to be a certain way, you can’t suffocate like that. If you do, I hope it pays off for you, by feeding the people what they want, all the time. That’s just not in my DNA./
Was there a moment when you decided, “I don’t have to tone it down anymore”? I remember thinking that after your mom died, you opened up, on God’s Son.
Yeah, definitely. That was my reconciliation with God. As a young man who questions everything about life, I thought, “If there’s a God, why are people suffering?” I was extremely rebellious. So when God’s Son came, that was me at the foot of the most high, saying, “I’m your child, and I need You right now. You don’t need me. I need You.” At that point, I started to feel like, “Yo, I don’t care no more,” but even then, I kept it a little toned down. With this album I’m saying what I’ve got to say, and that’s what it is.
What’s your relationship with the blogs and Twitter?
I don’t understand how artists get pissed off at people on Twitter. I appreciate a good joke. I mean, who are you? Not to say that people should have the toughest skin, and nothing should bother you… Maybe it’s just my age. I know who I am. I know what I’ve survived, and I know what I’ve done. That shit wasn’t easy. So for someone who doesn’t know anything about that to comment on it, you can’t be mad at them. They don’t know any better.