Nas Recalls First Time Hearing Kendrick Lamar — Before He Blew Up

Nas has recalled the first time he heard Kendrick Lamar and other rap luminaries on his new album King’s Disease 3.

Track number 14 on his latest collaborative effort with Hit-Boy, “First Time” is an ode to musical love at first sight, with the Queensbridge MC reflecting on the “special moment” he first heard some of his favorite artists.

When it comes to Kendrick, Nas recalls being introduced to the Compton native by a friend on the West Coast years before he became a household name.

“Since when did rap leave me so suspended in air / Since Kendrick entered the atmosphere, ’09, I was there / On La Cienega, my n-gga from L.A. said there’s a n-gga from Black Hippy / I was happy to just witness history,” he raps.

Nas and Kendrick Lamar have yet to sharpen their lyrical swords on wax, but there exists plenty of mutual respect between the Hip Hop titans.

Back in 2012, Nas called Kendrick’s debut LP good kid, m.A.A.d city one of his favorite albums from that year, saying: “No disrespect to nobody else in rap music, but Kendrick Lamar. I’m really happy about his record. I needed that. His record reaches you. It gives you hope.”

Nas’ own debut, 1994’s Illmatic, had an equally profound impact on Kendrick. “You hear in my music what’s surrounding me and just to be able to elevate your mind a little bit,” he told Google Play in 2014. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for that album, truthfully.”

On last year’s Magic, Nas heaped yet more high praise on the Black Hippy, crowning him, J. Cole and Drake as the modern-day Nas, JAY-Z and Biggie.

“Shoulda did that remix verse on ‘Gimme the Loot’ for Biggie / Me, JAY-Z and Frank White is like Cole, Drizzy and Kenny,” he rapped on “Wu For the Children.”

Elsewhere on “First Time,” Nas recalls his first time hearing other rap legends including Biggie, 2Pac, Slick Rick and N.W.A.

“How did you feel? / First time hearing Biggie / I’m like, ‘Who’s this kid? Wow’ / When I heard ‘Pac / That was on that song with, uh, Digital Underground, like / Yeah, that was crazy,” he says on the outro, before adding: “Like, N.W.A., what the fuck is this shit, kid? / I was goin’ crazy!”

King’s Disease 3 arrived on streaming services on Friday (November 4), containing 17 new songs with zero guest features. It serves as the third installment in Nas and Hit-Boy’s Grammy-winning series and their fourth collaboration overall following the aforementioned Magic.