Arts & Entertainment, Music

Using Your Power and Voice


Lesson time 09:17 min

Nas uses case studies of his songs “One Love” and “Ultra Black” to emphasize the importance of writing songs that make a statement or communicate societal ills, and how artists have a responsibility to talk about topics that can make a difference.

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Topics include: Using Your Power and Voice


[MUSIC - MAIN SOURCE, "LIVE AT THE BARBECUE"] - (RAPPING) Street's disciple, my raps are trifle, I shoot plugs from my brain just like a rifle. Stampede the stage, leave the microphone split, play Mr. Tuffy while I'm on some Pretty Tone shit. Verbal assassin, my architect pleases, when I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing-- Jesus! Nasty Nas is a rebel to America. At "Live at the Barbecue," I said a lot of wild things. Entering into the rap game, I needed to know-- I needed people to know I was a force to be reckoned with. I was going to take people on a journey that they never saw before. And it was going to deal with everything that society has laid on our front doorstep. And I was hitting it head on and-- and I wasn't happy about it, what was happening around. So I spoke out. The president's this, the cops this. Even Jesus this. Why are we going through this? What's happening? Something's not right. Something's not being told right. I didn't believe in anything, you know? I believed in the reality that I was in. And I felt like my future was uncertain. Things were changing, you know. We dealt with street things and we were involved in the streets. That made me think that tomorrow might not come. It was a possibility. And I felt like I was a good kid. I felt like I didn't deserve that. I stopped saying stuff like "snuffing Jesus" because I love Jesus. I don't want to offend anybody like that and I don't want to offend anything that's holy or powerful, godly, divine, peaceful-- anything that represents peace and love, I'm for that. So as I got older, I stopped saying it-- "I went to hell for loving Jesus" is what I started to say. It was very raw back then. There was a point in time in hip hop where the crazier the thing it was that you said, the more people paid attention to you. When you're young, you're a big conspiracy theorist because you haven't lived, so you just make assumptions and you see things and you think you know what you're talking about. Sometimes young people do know. A lot of times, they're misinformed, not educated about what they're really looking at. I think over time, I changed lyrically because there was a time where I felt I was in the war still, in the street. Then I grew up, and now I'm an old guy telling Vietnam War stories from a wiser point. I leave out the gory, unnecessary stuff. I say it in ways where you get the picture, but there's, uh-- I'm not right there. You get the picture of what was happening, but this is from a survival standpoint. Before, it was-- I didn't know-- I didn't know if I would survive. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I released "It Was Written," I was still very competitive lyrically. I still had some points to prove coming into my second album. I still had to prove that I had it. The first album and that's great, but can you do it again? And there's a lot of competition. "King's Disease" was more comfortable, more freestyling. Some typ...

About the Instructor

From the landmark album "Illmatic" in 1994 to the Grammy-winning "King’s Disease," Nas has been exposing truth through rhymes and vivid street poetry for more than 25 years. Now he’s sharing his journey, the evolution of Hip-Hop, and a brand-new song with you. Hip-Hop, lyricism, flow—learn how to tap into the power of your own voice and turn your experiences into music with one of rap’s all-time greatest artists.

Featured MasterClass Instructor


Grammy-winning rapper Nas shares his journey through the evolution of Hip-Hop, breaks down some of his biggest hits, and writes a brand-new song.

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