Nas honoured his idol Rakim at the inaugural Paid In Full Foundation Hip-Hop Grandmaster Awards.
The hip-hop legend Rakim rose to fame as a part of the DJ-MC rap duo Eric B & Rakim in the 1980s, with the duo still highly regarded as one of the most influential and best duos in rap. The was honoured on Saturday (November 18) at the first-ever Hip-Hop Grandmaster Awards.
Nas was asked to honour the duo with a speech, and started his speech by rapping a couplet from Eric B & Rakim’s 1987 track ‘Paid In Full’: “Thinkin’ of a master plan / ‘Cause ain’t nothin’ but sweat inside my hand.”
He then proceeded to say that the song “said, ‘I can make it [as a rapper]’” before lising Rakim, Doug E. Fresh, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, and Texan rapper and Geto Boys member Scarface as “the heroes” that were the reason why he “made it.”
He lovingly told them: “I’m forever in debt to y’all.”
Nas pays tribute to Rakim at the Hip Hop Grandmaster Awards https://t.co/3Yh0bOWXIA pic.twitter.com/cSxgydWo0J
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) November 19, 2023
The New Yorker went on to say that, because of Rakim and all the other hip-hop pioneer’s music, “technology changed for good”.
“A cassette couldn’t give us the quality of what y’all was making, they had to make CDs for you, bruh,” he said. “Technology couldn’t keep up with you!”
The ‘One Mic’ rapper recounted listening to ‘Paid In Full’ with his friend and discussing the lyrics, saying Rakim had “all of us from here to Japan, Ghana to Nigeria to Russia – this is what we’re thinking about you, my brother.”
Nas also remembered the time a valet was “blasting” Eric B & Rakim’s 1987 song ‘Eric B Is President’ out of his car, his then seven-year-old son went “crazy” asking “what is this?” and the rapper had a glimpse back to his youth. He concluded: “[Hip-hop] is universal. It’s divine. It’s beautiful. You guys are poets, you guys are heroes. I thank you. Love you.”
Nas also spoke of his gratitude for the “foundation” Rakim laid. “Yo, Ra’, when I first heard your music,” he began, “you couldn’t tell me in a million years that I’d be on stage saluting you, honouring you, giving you an award, my G.
“Like, this is crazy. This is a rapper’s dream. This is a hip-hop artist’s dream, my dude. Like, this don’t make no sense. It’s not regular. This don’t happen. This only happened the way it happened because of the foundation you laid down.”
Scarface was also honoured alongside Rakim as an inaugural recipient of a grant from the Paid In Full Foundation. The foundation – co-founded by Nas and many other investors including Ben Horowitz, who invested in lyric site, Genius – is said “to rectify that through its grantmaking program, by both honouring the people who built Hip Hop and enabling them to pursue their creative and intellectual pursuits for the benefit of society.”
The Grammy Award-winning rapper recently finished his world tour with the Wu-Tang Clan, where they stopped in the US, UK and Europe including a sold-out show at London’s The O2.
In other news, Nas dropped the surprise final instalment in his ‘Magic’ album series, ‘Magic 3’, on his 50th birthday back in September.