Peace, love,and light to the fam! Hope you all are well. I am feeling quite nostalgic after watching “Time Is Illmatic”, the 2014 Nas documentary. Now, let’s flashback to 1994 when Nas’s first album dropped. I was a 13-year-old struggling with issues of family drug abuse, neglect, and poverty. One day as I sat at the kitchen table doing homework, the video for “The World is Yours” came on. I dropped my pencil and became hypnotized by the words. “Understandable smooth shit that murderers move with, the thief’s theme; play me at night, they won’t act right. The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe…”
Quickly I moved to my dresser drawer to see if I had enough money to buy the tape. To my surprise, I did. I jumped on my bike and headed to the record store, praying along the way that the record was not sold out. No, I was not from Queensbridge, but his tales of life in the hood were all too familiar. “Illmatic” was a pivotal record in my youth. I was coming of age in a time where crack was king. Many children were left to fend for themselves or depend on grandparents to care for them. But the music, the hip hop of 1994 was absolutely historical. The music told the untold stories of ghetto life, from the dirty South to the slums of the city. We all were experiencing similar things in life. Nas tapped into the energy. Nas spoke to my soul. He was more gritty than A Tribe Called Quest, but he still flowed effortlessly and with intelligence. His lyricism was crisp, poetical, and poignant. His presence made a huge difference on the scene of hip hop.
People think that I exaggerate when I say that hip hop saved my life. Yo, it is far from a lie. Many times I considered suicide and illegal capers, but hip hop was salve to my soul. “The World Is Yours” gave me hope. I began to visualize my escape from my condition. I knew that life was much more than living in projects and seeing drugs rip your community apart. I knew life was more than drinking, getting high, and having sex. I knew that I was not destined to be a part of the nonsense. I knew life was good and also what you make it. That record is an anthem for me until this very day.
Another of my favorite Nas lines is “Life is good, no matter what, life is good.” It is my creed. I am a child of hip hop. Much gratitude to Nas for his contribution to the art that is hip hop. He may never know the true impact, but “The World is Yours” had a direct impact on the essence of Ashaki Ali.
Peace, Love, and Light,
Ashaki Ma’at Mirembe Ali
Photo Cred: http://columbiaspectator.com/arts-and-entertainment/2014/10/02/new-documentary-focuses-inspiration-importance-nas-debut