Google Play Music x Mass Appeal Present: The Story Behind the Lead Single “Hip Hop Is Dead”

When you first look at the cover of Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead, you might be overcome with a sense of fear, as if you’re about to be buried along with hip hop. But for Nas, the positioning of everything on the cover is supposed to act as a call to action. Before he throws down the rose and some dirt, the Queensbridge legend is giving you an opportunity to help revive the culture.

Subconsciously, took that choice to heart when he crafted the beat for the title track to the album. Without knowing that he had flipped a sample already used for a single — “Thief’s Theme” — on the previous Nas album Street’s Disciple, acted as a hip hop Dr. Frankenstein. He breathed new life into the familiar sample and then threw in bits and pieces of Nas’ new vocals from studio sessions to end up with what we have today–a reminder to never let hip hop die on our watch.

A moment of silence before you revisit “Hip Hop Is Dead” on Google Play Music.

Check out the first video of the series about the inspiration on the album here.

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