Over the past five decades, hip-hop artists have leveraged the genre to change society, culture, and the music industry as we know it — and created icons in the process. Thus, to mark the turning point of half a century of the genre, The Bridge: 50 years of hip-hop, a Spotify Original podcast in partnership with Mass Appeal’s #HipHop50 program, dives deep into how hip-hop grew from microphones, turntables and sound systems to big business and a global cultural phenomenon.
Over the past four months, hosts, rapper and hip-hop icon Nas and seasoned journalist minya “Miss Info” Oh—have interviewed icons such as Ice cube, Cordae, Mary J. Blige, jeezyand Yara Shahidi. Each tells a story as unique as their music, giving listeners insight into their special place in hip-hop history. But with so many decades and names to choose from, Nas didn’t know where to start.
“When I first thought about doing this, I thought it would be impossible to choose who to sue first,” he said. For registration in an interview. “I have love for everyone.”
We asked Nas to share more about his perspective as a hip-hop icon reaching out to other genre giants and which podcasts he pays attention to.
What are the biggest changes in the genre you’ve noticed in the three decades you’ve been on the scene?
The constant changing of the guard. The pioneers really inspired the young people. And these young people, they end up becoming giants, and then they inspire the next new generation to do the same and more. And it just keeps growing and growing. I love seeing the different artists that come out every 10 years. It’s crazy.
What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned on the show so far?
Just some of the stories – there are so many untold stories that connect to other stories and let you see them as a piece of history. You see the work that has been done that you didn’t know had happened. I didn’t even know how much MC Lyte had done, just being a female artist waking up and stepping into a male-dominated industry because it was just something she felt was her calling.
Then there is the Ice Cube and NWA stories, like when they talk about coming to New York for the first time and being booed. These were tough times in the game. Then Ice Cube had a sold-out solo show at the Apollo Theater. He told the story on the podcast. I was actually on 125th Street outside the theater that night and couldn’t get in. It was super lit outside in Harlem, NYC. It was this show that really established him in New York forever. People were crazy about him. I was happy to see him because I was really into his music. And so just hearing from his side, how he tore the house down, that was really cool.
How did these deep dives into hip-hop history influence your creative process when you put the finishing touches on your latest album, Magic?
They were really different. With the podcast, I had the opportunity to really be a fan, a student and appreciate the people who really moved me. With Magic, it was just me putting on the artist’s hat. So two completely different things but I can say talking to all these guys made me happier to be an artist in this art form because I could see there was so much more to do for me. It makes me happier to be a part of something that the people I talk to on the podcast are also a part of. They inspired me. I’m happy to be in their world, pushing what they push.
What was the most surprising thing about creating a podcast? What were the easiest and hardest parts?
It was great to get out of my comfort zone and do something that I never thought would be as fun as it was. I thought I would suck at talking. Hourly. Listen clearly – and it’s recorded. I said ‘I’ll just be me.’ I don’t even watch my own interviews, and I thought I was going to bother people with all my indiscretions. But I’ve been through shit and it’s exciting; people tell me they like to listen so I guess I’m fine.
There are plenty of hip-hop legends who are no longer around to share their stories. If you could choose one person to have on the show, who would it be?
It would be Eazy-E Where young dolphin. I would like to know more about Young Dolph. I’ve heard some of his music, but most of the people I listen to are older, so I want to hear more about the things I missed that only he can tell and explain to me.
What podcasts have you listened to in addition to your own?
1619, Drink championsand a true crime podcast.
Have more Nas and Teddy Riley (and maybe you’ll one day find out what true-crime podcast Nas aired?) on the latest episode of The Bridge: 50 years of hip-hop every Tuesday, only on Spotify.