Nas & Jack White Bring 1920s Blues to the Modern Age for 'American Epic'

“It just goes to show me that rapping is a natural, poetic thing that’s always been here.”

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Nas and Jack White connect and link up with a backing band of talented musicians for a special performance for the new PBS documentary program American Epic. A three-part series, American Epic is a multimedia effort from White, Robert Redford and T-Bone Burnett; the audiovisual project centers on the beginning days of music and sound recording. For the latest vignette released in support of the PBS show, White and Nas deliver their own live spin on Memphis Jug Band’s pivotal 1920s record “On the Road Again.” “It’s the same as today, it’s the same as rap music today,” Nas says of the Memphis Jug Band song. “They were rapping about street life and gangster life and hustling, just a dark side of the world … it just goes to show me that rapping is a natural, poetic thing that’s always been here. As long as there was English and black people, there was rap.”

You can check out Nas and Jack White’s modern spin on “On the Road Again” above. The American Epic episode that features the performance will air on PBS on June 6, while the series itself will debut on May 16. The music that serves as the basis for American Epic will see release courtesy of Jack White’s Third Man Record and Legacy Recordings; a 100-part collection known as American Epic: The Collection and American Epic: The Soundtrack are both set to arrive this Friday, May 12. Columbia Records will also be releasing American Epic: The Sessions on June 9.

Last month, Nas opened up a chicken and waffles spot in Los Angeles and dropped a ’70s-influenced single titled “Angel Dust.”

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