Hip-hop maestro Nas finally won his first Grammy on Sunday after 13 nominations across more than two decades.
The 47-year-old rapper from the Queens borough of New York City, won Best Rap Album for his 13th album, “King’s Disease.”
The album beat out “Black Habits” by D Smoke, “A Written Testimony” by Jay Electronica, “Alfredo” by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist, and “The Allegory” by Royce da 5′9”.
“King’s Disease,” released Aug. 21, was headlined by the lead single “Ultra Black,” an unapologetic celebration of Black culture in America. In an interview with British music magazine NME in November, Nas said that he had attempted to create a record similar to James Brown’s 1968 classic “Say It Loud ― I’m Black and I’m Proud” and said it was necessary for Black artists to make similar anthems because of “the foot on our necks.”
“We’re in a world right now where we’re facing some really terrible racist practices, and there are people who don’t realize it’s happening,” Nas said. “So these records were made to remind us that we are God’s creation, just like every white man, every Asian brother and everyone else.”
Nas was first nominated for a Grammy in 1996 in the Best Rap Solo Performance category for “If I Ruled the World,” a single with Lauryn Hill from his second album, “It Was Written.”
Over the next 25 years, Nas experienced a public feud with fellow New York rapper Jay-Z, a marriage and divorce to R&B star Kelis and 13 Grammy nominations ― most recently in 2013 for his 11th album, “Life Is Good.”
With his 14th nomination, Nas ― who has long been listed as one of the most skilled hip-hop emcees of all time since his 1994 debut album, “Illmatic” ― finally received his due. Fans were quick to celebrate the victory on Twitter, though some argued that Nas should have won a Grammy years ago.
An emotional video in which “King’s Disease” executive producer Hit-Boy choked up after being notified of the win also went viral, racking up tens of thousands of views on Instagram. The producer previously won Grammys for records with Kanye West and Jay-Z in 2013 and Nipsey Hussle in 2020, and tweeted that his win with Nas made him “motivated to put more work in.”