Why Prince Shot Down a Collaboration With Nas
As one of hip-hop’s living legends, Nas has scored platinum albums, earned multiple Grammy nominations and recorded with an assortment of artists, including the Beastie Boys and Kanye West. Still, the MC distinctly remembers the moment when he was rebuffed by a different music icon, Prince.
The purple one was a guest at Nas’ album release party for 1999’s I Am… Excited by the legend’s presence, Nas approached Prince and suggested they collaborate.
“Look, man, let’s do this. Let’s do this song," Nas remembers saying, to which Prince replied, “Do you own your masters?”
This was an important artistic point for Prince, who famously told Rolling Stone in 1996, “If you don’t own your masters, your master owns you.” Nas, as it turned out, did not own his masters.
"When you own your masters, give me a ring," Prince told the rapper. With that, the conversation of a collaboration ended. The friendship, however, did not.
“We kicked it a few times. We got cool. He was a very cool dude to me,” Nas confessed, later revealing that he at one point declined an invitation to join Prince on stage.
Nas shared this anecdote during an appearance on Drink Champs, the podcast hosted by fellow New York rapper N.O.R.E. The Illmatic MC was on the show to promote his latest LP, a compilation album called The Lost Tapes 2. You can watch the full interview below.
While Prince never joined forces with Nas, the music icon did develop a healthy relationship with hip-hop, creating a business alliance with Jay-Z, collaborating with Eve and expressing admiration for Kendrick Lamar.