When you think “lyrics” there are a select few guys who come to mind. Wordplay, technical ability, metaphor, and storytelling abilities are among the many factors that make any artist an elite lyricist. If we were to put together a top 10 list of who the best lyricists in the history of the art were, nine times out of 10 Lupe Fiasco and Nas are popping up on those lists.
They represent the scholars of the ghetto. Nas and Lupe are both well versed in knowledge and put together equally well written verses. Nas says he would have been “Ivy League” if America played fair while Lupe thinks that you’d have to go to “Harvard” to be a Lupe Stan. With like minds, it’s puzzling why these two haven’t come together for a collaboration in the twilight of their respective careers.
Upon his arrival Nas was heralded as one of the greatest pens in hip hop history. His verses were vivid recounts of the things he saw growing up in the Queensbridge projects of New York City. Some good and some bad, he managed to provide a glimmer of hope for those coming up after him who share the same struggles. The story was deep, but Nas’ natural way with words was what set him apart from others. His debut and subsequent works were held in high regard with critics, but more importantly Nas’ work has inspired fellow MCs from the 90’s to today. One of those artists is Lupe Fiasco.
A rookie boy, the cookie didn’t make no profit
A stranger to the block, I damn near had to make them cop it
It only took a fiend to taste it once to say it’s garbage
I brought it back to papi, ain’t trying to take no losses
He focuses on my emotionless young dealer face then pauses
He gives me powder, he has faith in Nas’ ambitions to distribute coke
– Nas, Triple Beam Dreams
Lupe has never been shy about his admiration for Nasir Jones. He’s gone on record to state that he believes that Nas is the Greatest MC of All Times. He’s stated many of times that Illmatic and Nas’ second album, It Was Written, changed his life. He even took to OkayPlayer back in 2008 to write a tribute to Nas where declared him his favorite rapper.
There are so many similarities between the two. Both came into hip hop predestined to be be greats. Where Nas is the king of using his gift to tell stories with vivid imagery, Lupe is a verbal gymnast that stacks layers of double entendres into his bars with grace. Their styles juxtapose each other down to their vocal tones. They’re both products of some of America’s most dangerous neighborhoods who found a way to use their talents to escape the lifestyle that many of the subjects in their rhymes succumbed to. The praises here aren’t one sided either. Nas acknowledged Lupe as one of the artists keeping the spirit of hip hop alive after his infamous claims of it being “dead.”
See, I could walk the walk, couldn’t really talk the talk
Had to get my talk to properly explain my walk
Cause this lack in talk had my walk looking off
Now I’m over the limp
Watch how they mugs drop when they see my Verbal’s able
That’s the Usual
When I was po’ I was low
Now me and my Chaps cop Purple Label
– Lupe Fiasco, Failure
I’m scratching my head here. I’m not sure why these two haven’t been able to come together yet. There have been rumors in the past, but nothing has come to fruition. Sure, Lupe has had his share of troubles with his label, but I don’t think anyone would turn down a Nas feature if it makes perfect sense.
This one is overdue. As of the release of Tetsuo & Youth, Lupe Fiasco is officially an independent artist so there shouldn’t be anything stopping this from happening. Imagine these two getting together over some of the best production No I.D. or DJ Premier could muster to possibly resurrect the tale of Michael Young History—the character from the stories told on Lupe’s first two albums. C’mon guys, don’t let the fans down.
They’re two of the greatest writers hip hop has ever seen and have both acknowledged each other as so, so with all this talk….
Why haven’t they collaborated yet?