Icons, Rivals, Rappers: Jay-Z and Nas
In the recent episode of Zack & Mel Talk Music podcast, Zack and Mel discuss Jay-Z and Nas’ musical careers. You can find the entire recording below. Listen and share. To accompany the audio, the podcast curators have written a short piece on the two rappers and made a music playlist of the rappers. Read the piece below and listen to the playlist at the end of the piece.
Jay-Z, the richest rapper alive (and the wealthiest American musician) was born in 1969 in New York City, the founding place of rap music. He began his musical career by founding Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995 together with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs.
In 1996 Jay-Z released his first album, Reasonable Doubt (Jay-Z’s personal favourite album of all his works yet).
In total, Jay-Z has released 13 solo rap albums, including The Blueprint, The Black Album, American Gangster, among others. He has won 22 Grammys and holds the record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist on Billboard 200, 14.
Last year Forbes magazine declared Jay-Z the first hip-hop billionaire. The declaration also made him the fifth-wealthiest African-American not to mention the wealthiest American musician.
In 2008 Jay-Z founded Roc Nation, an artist management agency. The agency houses a record label as well. Through the record label, Jay-Z is home to some of the hottest rappers and singers; such as Rihanna, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, Rapsody, Vic Mensa, Casanova, among others.
Jay-Z is also the owner of Tidal, subscription-based music, podcast, and video streaming platform.
Jay-Z is an active philanthropist. Together with his mother, Jay-Z founded The Shawn Carter Foundation in 2003 to support students facing socio-economic hardships through college. He has also donated money to help bail out protesters arrested during activism against police brutality. He has also severally lent a helping hand to his fellow troubled rappers; he helped pay Lil Wayne’s tax bills, helped Meek Mill with his case against probation violation, and helped 21 Savage with his citizenship issues.
Jay-Z’s music albums
- Reasonable Doubt
- In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
- Vol.2… Hard Knock Life
- Vol.3… Life and Times of S. Carter
- The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
- The Blueprint
- The Blueprint 2
- The Black Album
- Kingdom Come
- American Gangster
- The Blueprint 3
- Magna Carter Holy Grail
Nas is considered to be one of the greatest MCs of all times. He is a son of Olu Dara, a jazz musician (at least now you now why Nas is a great artist; his father was a musician). Nas’ musical career started in 1991, however, he released his first album in 1994. His first album, Illmatic is considered to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all times. Or as Zack of Zack & Mel Talk Music podcast usually says, Illmatic is one of the greatest collections of 10 songs.
Nas’ second album, It Was Written was also received with great acclaim. The album topped Billboard 200 chart and even most interestingly spent 4 weeks atop the chart.
Nas released his first album when he was barely a young man — about 21 years old. He receives a lot of respect for creating such a great body of creative work at a relatively young age. To make things even more interesting, Nas dropped out of school at grade 8. He received most of his education from the Five Percent Nation, a subgroup of the Nation of Islam.
Nas has 12 studio albums under his belt. 7 of those albums have been certified platinum or higher by the RIAA. He has received 13 Grammy nominations but has never won one.
Nas is the co-founder of Mass Appeal Records. The record label has signed the likes of Dave East, Mannie Fresh, DJ Shadow, among others.
Nas’ music albums
- It Was Written
- I Am…
- God’s Son
- Street’s Disciple
- Hip Hop Is Dead
- Life Is Good
Nas also has a collaborative album with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives. Nas’ royalties off the album were donated to active charities in Africa.