Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, known to one and all as Nas, is one of hip-hop’s best-known, most mercurial, and lyrically blessed figures ever to touch the microphone. Since his heart-stopping debut turn on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque,” Nas has delivered countless beautifully structured, thought-provoking, keenly observed verses. Growing up in Queens, NY, Nas never really performed in big crowds—he kept to himself. Nas used a different type of vernacular that others didn’t understand, which helped him to stand out from other rappers from his era. With every ensuing album, Nas always reminds fans that he’s still the same Queensbridge MC who crafted one of the greatest albums of all time, and arguably the bible of Hip-Hop, Illmatic. Nas established the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship at Harvard University to fund artists who demonstrate exceptional productivity and creative ability in hip-hop. Read an exegesis of Illmatic here.