Nas is one of the most gifted rappers of all time. VH1 certainly seems to think so, as they have bestowed upon him their greatest honor. Mr. Jones will be the focus of a brand new Behind the Music episode, the opening ten minutes of which have been posted on VH1’s website. It promises to touch on many of the highlights of his 21 year long career.
From the outset, it’s obvious that the production design has been made to suit the mood of Nas’s music: hazy and introspective. As “Queens Get the Money” plays on the soundtrack, Nas’s scratchy, weed addled vocals provide narration. Onscreen, a brief travelogue of NYC unfolds via washed out photography. Nas is showing viewers his family album, much like how he used Illmatic as an audiobook version of his private journal.
Such an opening will surely be gripping for any Nas fan. Unfortunately, things soon settle into an all too familiar groove. The usual Jim Forbes voice over narration inevitably kicks in. It’s a little disheartening, since Nas could probably tell his own story just as good if not better, thus continuing the feeling of intimacy emanated by those opening moments. What seemed like an intimate portrait of a gifted artist threatens to become yet another hour of fan-friendly, glossed over fluff.
The commercial bumper at the tail end of the clip teases at other notable events in Nas career, including his infamous meeting with Tupac and Suge in Central Park. Though Nas makes himself sound a lot more confrontational than he likely was at that time, it will be good to finally get his take on what happened between him and Pac. That pretty much sums up my attitude toward this episode of Behind The Music. I am cautiously optimistic, but I know many of my questions will remain unanswered. Either way, I’m a Nas fan for life.