Nas

(b. 1973)

Rapper Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones emerged as one of New York Hip Hop's preeminent voices in the early 1990s, embodying a swaggering verbal mastery and an outspoken, often politically charged persona on a series of highly regarded albums, beginning with his 1994 debut, Illmatic. Since then, Nas has scored eight consecutive platinum and albums, had six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and sold over 25 million records.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, and the son of revered jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas dropped out of high school in eighth grade, but soon developed a literate lyrical sensibility that was reflected in his edgy, well-crafted rhymes. Since then, he's made headlines for his supposed rivalry with Jay-Z and his divorce from R&B star Kelis, but his creative evolution speaks more loudly than the celebrity news stories in which he's been involved.

Nas also briefly led the New York rap supergroup the Firm, which included Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature, and was part of Group Therapy, with B-Real, KRS-One and RBX. Nas' supposed rivalry with Jay-Z ended when Jay-Z signed Nas to Def Jam, and the two collaborated on the track "Black Republican."