CNN is no Source Magazine but the worldwide leader in news recently entered Hip Hop waters when it crowned Nasir as the “lyricist of all time”. That is one huge title for a rapper and a debatable one at that. CNN defended it’s position by stating Nas’ active years in the game and his unique rhyming scheme and technique.
According to CNN “With “Life is Good,” Nas dropped his ninth No. 1 hip-hop album since 1994. Seven of those have gone platinum, which places him second among rappers only to Jay-Z with 11. (We’re not counting compilations or collaborations here, only original solo efforts, and yes, Tupac Shakur had nine, but five were posthumous releases.)
It also ties Nas with Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion or whatever his name is, and it puts the Queens native one plaque ahead of Eminem, Too Short, OutKast and LL Cool J, all of whom belong in the greatest-ever discussion, as well“
The writer of the CNN feature Eliott C. McLaughlin says that the only advantage Jay-Z has over Nas is his commercial sensibility.
“Here is where that “lyricist” v. “hip-hop artist” distinction becomes important.
Jay-Z said it best himself: He’s not a businessman; he’s a business, man. When you consider 11 of his albums have sold at least a million copies — seven of those 2 million or more — as have his four collaborations, two with R. Kelly and one each with Linkin Park and Kanye West, it’s as if Hova is King Midas, but with platinum.
He’s a hit maker extraordinaire, maybe the world’s best, but that doesn’t translate to best lyricist. Jay-Z acknowledged as much on “Moment of Clarity” when he rhymed, “If skills sold, truth be told/I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.”
Even in dissing Nas on “Takeover,” he explained why he had sampled Nas’ lyrics on “Dead Presidents”: “So yeah, I sampled your voice; you was using it wrong/you made it a hot line; I made it a hot song.”