On October 19, 2021, the GRAMMY Museum and Culture Impact Agency hosted an intimate conversation with GRAMMY Award-winning rap legend Nas and Hit-Boy, to discuss their one-of-a-kind synergy, breaking barriers as the premier rapper/producer duo in hip-hop, notching Nas' first GRAMMY win, and putting together their sequel album for 2020's acclaimed album King's Disease. The conversation was moderated by Billboard Hip-Hop Editor Carl Lamarre.
Nas (Nasir Jones) first reached an international audience when his track “Halftime” was tapped by producer MC Serch as the opening cut on 1992’s Zebrahead movie soundtrack. Signed to Columbia Records, the first full-length album by poet and rhyme-master Nas arrived in 1994, Illmatic. The RIAA platinum hip-hop landmark featured “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “The World Is Yours,” and “One.” 1996 brought the breakthrough double-platinum It Was Written (#1 R&B for 7 weeks, #1 pop for 4 weeks), with his first major crossover singles “Street Dreams” and “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That).” Success continued with the double-platinum I Am in 1999 (again #1 pop and #1 R&B), with the chart singles “Nas Is Like,” “Hate Me Now” (featuring Puff Daddy), and “You Won’t See Me Tonight” (featuring Aaliyah).
Subsequent albums by Nas included: the RIAA platinum Nastradamus (1999, #2 R&B, #7 pop, with “Nastradamus” and “You Owe Me,” featuring Ginuwine); the platinum Stillmatic (2001, #1 R&B, #5 pop, with “Got Ur Self A…,” “ “One Mic,” and “Rule”); the platinum God’s Son (2002, #1 R&B, with huge R&B/pop crossover hits “Made You Look” and “I Can”); and the platinum double-CD Street’s Disciple (2004, #2 R&B, #5 pop, with “Bridging the Gap” and “Just a Moment”). And his 2012 album, Life Is Good earned him 4 Grammy nominations including Rap Album of the Year and is certified RIAA gold.
Over the years, Nas has also been the featured guest on a number of crossover hits by other artists, among them: Allure (“Head Over Heels,” 1997); Missy Elliott (the #1 “Hot Boyz,” 1999); fellow Queensbridge rapper Mobb Deep (“It’s Mine,” 1999); Jagged Edge (“I Got It 2,” 2002); J-Lo (“I’m Gonna Be Alright,” 2002); Kanye West (“Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been),” 2006); DJ Khaled (“Nas Album Done,” 2016); Swizz Beats (“Echo,” 2018); Jhene Aiko (“10K Hours,” 2020) and others.
In August 2020, Nas released King’s Disease. King’s Disease marked Nas’ first new album in 2 years. The album was entirely produced by Hit-Boy, and Gabriel “G Code” Zardes serves as the albums co-executive producer. The album won “Best Rap Album” at the 2021 GRAMMYs, marking Nas’ first ever GRAMMY win.
In addition to his successful career in music, Nas has pursued a career in motion pictures that began with his co-starring role (alongside DMX) in 1998’s cult classic crime drama Belly, a film by director Hype Williams (with whom Nas has done several music videos). Most recently, he was the executive producer of the 2016 Netflix series The Get Down.
Nas is also the co-founder of Mass Appeal Records.
As one of the music industry’s most sought out hip-hop producers, the California-bred Hit-Boy has more than earned his moniker. Born Chauncey Hollis, the 34-year-old, 3x GRAMMY Award-winning multi-hyphenate artist from Pasadena and the neighboring Inland Empire, boasts an impressive roster of credits, from wielding pop smashes for Beyoncé, Rihanna and Ariana Grande to producing hit records for Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, and more over his thirteen plus years in the industry. As a rapper and songwriter in his own right, Hit-Boy has recorded and released seven mixtapes and three collaborative albums. Recently earning a GRAMMY for Nas' King's Disease (Hit served as an executive producer on the 'Best Rap Album'), the super producer has racked up several additional accolades, including back-to-back ‘Producer of the Year’ at the 2021 and 2020 BET Hip-Hop Awards, 'Outstanding Producer of the Year' at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards and Complex's 'Best Hip-Hop Producer Alive' of 2020. He recently served as executive producer for Nas' King's Disease (GRAMMY winner), Big Sean'sDetroit 2 (debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200) and Benny the Butcher's Burden of Proof.