Nas & DJ Premier Announce Long-Awaited Joint Album With ‘Define My Name’ Single: Listen

Hip-hop turned 50 in 2023, and it’s crazy to think that some artists have been contributing to the culture for more than half of that time.

With Nas’ legendary debut Illmatic celebrating its 30th anniversary on Friday (April 19), time came full circle with Esco reuniting alongside DJ Premier for their “Define My Name” single.

The classic-feeling record is packed with nostalgia and Preemo scratches, which clear the way for Nas to dominate with his lyrical gymnastics. The Queensbridge icon reflects on being able to still rhyme prolifically into his 50s, which he wouldn’t have predicted to be the case.

“At 20, I said I’d better quit by 30/ Then by 30, I thought by 40 rapping is corny/ How wrong was I/ Never would have thought at 50, new songs by Nas would be hard and live,” he raps.

Preemo even gets into his rapping bag briefly before Nas playfully tells him to stick to crafting beats, and lets the world know what they’ve been hoping for — that a collaborative project is on the way.

“It’s time, it’s album time, yeah,” Nas says to close out the track in a call back to “N.Y. State of Mind.” While the project is said to arrive later this year, there is still no firm release date listed yet.

Premier produced three records on Illmatic (“N.Y. State of Mind,” “Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)” and “Represent”) in addition to sequencing the album. The duo continued to reunite on tracks such as “Nas Is Like” and “N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II,” as well as 2022’s “Beat Breaks.”

Illmatic arrived on April 19, 1994, and debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 with 63,000 albums sold in the first week.

Nas has spent the better part of this week reminiscing on ’94 and how things were surrounding the Illmatic‘s arrival.

“Grainy pictures for grainy times. I had a dream I could get my favorite producers to produce on my debut album. I knew exactly what I wanted and how it should be. But I didn’t know anyone except for Paul, so I asked him would he connect me to them all. The cool soul brother that he is helped me line it up. On April 19th we smashed shit,” he wrote to Instagram alongside a series of grainy photos earlier this week.

“Even tho the album leaked months before the release date we still are apart of music history. Thank you Large Professor (Paul) and Dj Premier who drove into the projects to pick me up a time or two. Qtip , Pete Rock , and my man from The Bridge DJ LES, and my guy AZ who was just coming up himself. And thank you to everyone involved. Friday is the albums 30th. 2 The Listeners- ONE LOVE.”

Listen to “Define My Name” below.

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