Nas, DJ Premier Create Gold With ‘Define My Name’

It underlines their creative status...

Nas and DJ Premier go back a long way. When Nas constructed his iconic debut album ‘Illmatic’, he called on a string of East Coast production talent, assembling a true elite team of beat-makers in the studio.

Naturally, DJ Premier was foremost among this – with a CV that already included several seminal albums with Gang Starr, his talents couldn’t be ignored. The two hit it off, and much of the material DJ Premier supplied for ‘Illmatic’ became associated with some of the record’s Alpine heights.

With ‘Illmatic’ toasting its 30th birthday today – watch out for a full tribute on these digital pages – the time is right for Nas and DJ Premier to connect once more, respecting the past while facing the future. A full album is said to be in the works, one that follows Nas and Hit-Boy’s own studio recalibration.

The New York rapper seems fired up on ‘Define My Name’, a track designed to underline his status. It’s more than simply asserting the worth of his catalogue, though – it feels future-facing, looking forwards while embracing his illustrious past.

Aiming to build on a lineage, rather than simply showcasing it, ‘Define My Name’ cuts itself loose from their 90s experiments. There are new techniques here, new sounds, and a desire to attempt something fresh.

Out now on – truly, where else? – Mass Appeal, ‘Define My Name’ comes as Stateside rap’s MVPs become embroiled in a war of words. Finessing his skills, sharpening his pen, Nas – together with sublime sound tapestries from DJ Premier – has provided a bona fide headline-rattling event of his own.

It ends with a preview: “30 years later we back in the lab, it’s album time…”

We can’t wait to hear where they’ll go next.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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