“Every year is my year,” Nas tells me. “Every year, you know? I’m just really appreciative and grateful to all the people that supported me through the years and it’s just a great moment, regardless. You know what I mean?”
Every time the hip-hop vet comes out with a new album, industry insiders declare it an easy win for a Grammy. And, why wouldn’t they? The lyricist is one of the best to ever do it; he’s influenced almost two generations of rappers and has sustained incredible staying power with or without an assist from radio.
Still, that doesn’t mean that his team doesn’t toast and hope and wish for it to happen. And if ever there were a year that QB’s finest should take home one of those nifty gold gramophones, this was the year. Nas is 0-for-9 when it comes to previous Grammy nominations and, once again, was up for a few awards Sunday night. However, he left empty-handed.
Nas dropped what is, perhaps, his most personal solo album to-date, Life Is Good, which included the track “Daughters.” It also included a track with the late Amy Winehouse, “Cherry Wine,” which was up for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. As we all know well by now, he lost to Drake’s Take Care and to the Jay-Z/Kanye/Frank Ocean/The Dream-collab, “No Church In The Wild.”
But on Friday night before the big Grammy showdown, Hennessey—with whom he recently inked a deal to be a new spokesperson—feted the legend with a small, private dinner.
The guest list was rather exclusive—maybe only 25 or so people (including The Shadow League) were invited to sip on Hennessey cocktails and champagne alongside the rapper. Those in attendance included label head L.A. Reid, Young Jeezy, Michael Strahan, Nicole Murphy, a few actors and some record label top dogs. They all approached the rap legend to tell him, as they raised glasses in his direction, that this would be the year he would take home a top prize; no longer would he be the music industry’s Susan Lucci.
Over the years, the emcee has been nominated for Best Rap Album three times: in 2000 for I Am, in 2008 for Hip Hop Is Dead and 2009 for Untitled—the Academy didn’t have a best rap album category until 1996, hence Illmatic’s omission. But Nas wasn’t sweating a damn thing.
He says he doesn’t do it for awards—and he means it. It’s nice, he acknowledges, to be nominated, and he’ll walk red carpets and chat up his projects, but really, he’s just happy to be 20-years deep in the business and still making music that people want to hear.
Still, he wouldn’t have minded taking home one of those gold bad boys.
“It’ll mean a great thing for my daughter; it’ll mean a great thing for my son. It’d be a great thing in hip hop music,” he says. “Just loving to keep it going and just hoping that the next man sees me as someone he wants to knock out the way so he can get his Grammy next year. So it just keeps the whole competitive thing alive.”
Till next year, then, Nas.