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Nas dropped one of the most universally loved rap albums in 1994 with Illmatic.

Since releasing that homage to the gritty streets of his childhood home, Queensbridge, Nas has remained one of the greatest emcees of all time.

Few legends in hip-hop have been able to maintain their relevance over several decades based on their skill alone. Nas has never chased headlines or crossover success. He’s always seemed focused on elevating his craft and the culture. And that dedication has paid off.

King’s Disease is Nas’ 12th album, and earned him his 14th Grammy nomination. It’s up for Best Rap album at this year’s awards.

Rick Rubin connected with Nas recently to talk about his earliest experiences with rap in Queens, how recording his last album with Kanye West in Wyoming almost took him out of his zone, and how early beef with Jay-Z made them both stronger rappers.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…