Where is Nas from? Nas is from Brooklyn, which might surprise fans of the rapper, as he’s always identified with and rapped about Queens — particularly the Queensbridge Houses of Long Island City. But as his father revealed in a 2004 cover story for The Source, Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones was born on September 14, 1973, at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. That means that in terms of hometown, Nas is technically in the same boat as Biggie and Jay Z, who are generally regarded as the BK’s best all-time rappers. Nas is certainly up there with the biggest names in hip-hop history, and to date, he’s released 10 studio albums. His first, “Illmatic,” is seen by many as a stone-cold hip-hop classic, and MTV has ranked him no. 5 on its list of the greatest MCs of all time.
Even if Nas’ hometown is technically Brooklyn, not Queens, the latter New York City borough looms large in his music, and that’s because he moved there at a young age and grew up in the hardscrabble Queensbridge projects. Although his father was a jazz trumpeter, Nas gravitated as a teenager toward hip-hop, and in 1994, he dropped “Illmatic,” a record that put him on the map, even though it didn’t exactly ignite the charts. The album only hit no. 12 on the Billboard 200, but his next two, “It Was Written” and “I Am…” topped the charts, and his three most recent albums — “Hip-Hop Is Dead,” “Untitled,” and “Life Is Good” — also occupied the peak position.
Over the years, the question of where Nas is from has always been central to his music, as the violence and drug use that characterized Queensbridge in the ’80s and ’90s has left a lasting mark on the MC. His Allmusic bio sums it up nicely: “Throughout all the ups (the acclaim, popularity, and success) and downs (the expectations, adversaries, and over-reaching), Nas continually matured as an artist, evolving from a young street disciple to a vain all-knowing sage to a humbled godly teacher. Such growth made every album release an event and prolonged his increasingly storied career to epic proportions.”
Born in Brooklyn, raised in and defined by Queens, Nas remains one of NYC’s finest rhymers.