“I’m from where niggas pull your card, and argue all day about
Who’s the best MC’s, Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas” – Jay-Z
One of my favorite lyrics from any hip hop song ever. And more than 20 years later, we are still arguing. Every hip hop fan has some sort of Top 5 MC’s, their “Rap Mt Rushmore”. MTV, Rolling Stone and other media platforms have similar lists. One name that is synonymous with these lists is (or should be) the Queens wordsmith, Nasty Nas. His entire debut, Illmatic, was one of the few albums where the forward button magically became disabled. Every song was special and his 3rd single, “The World is Yours” certainly didn’t disappoint.
Nas got his inspiration for this song from the movie Scarface. When Tony Montana was in an altered state, he looked up and saw a blimp highlighting the words “The World is Yours”. Nas was able to perfectly match this mantra with his intricate rhymes about his surroundings. He rhymes:
Yet I’m the mild, money-getting style, rolling foul
The versatile, honey-sticking wild golden child
Dwelling in the Rotten Apple, you get tackled
Or caught by the devil’s lasso, shit is a hassle
There’s no days, for broke days we sell it: smoke pays
While all the old folks pray to Jesus, soaking their sins in trays
Of holy water. Odds against Nas are slaughter
Thinking a word best describing my life to name my daughter
My strength, my son, the star, will be my resurrection
He was able to effortlessly foreshadow his unborn children in the last two lines. Nas would later have two children, Destiny and Knight.
And who can forget the line “I’m out for dead presidents to represent me”. Jay-Z used this for the hook on his song “Dead Presidents”. Then again used by Jay-Z against Nas in Takeover. But that’s another story.
Sampling is an art…..perhaps my favorite type. There are many examples of sampling where producers will take just the original song, add a thing or two, and lay their vocals over the music. Nothing wrong with that at all. Then you have what producer Pete Rock did for this song. He took a 5 second snippet from the middle of the 7 minute masterpiece “I Love Music” by legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal. Rock took that portion, added some drums and other musical goodness and the beat for “The World is Yours” was born – the perfect soundtrack for Nas’s articulate street poetry.
Nas “The World Is Yours” prod by Pete Rock