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“Legend is a big, big title,” says Nas. But, it’s not the only title Nasir Jones carries. There’s also poet, father and inspiration, to add a few. “To me, Nas is the complete emcee,” says Rick Ross.

VIBE honored Nasir Jones at our second annual VIBE Impact Awards on Friday night (Jan. 24) in Los Angeles. Nas’ friends Swizz Beatz, No ID, J. Cole and Busta Rhymes and family, including his 19-year-old daughter Destiny, came out to the intimate affair held at the Carondelet House to honor his 20 years and counting in the game. From the lyrical prowess that is Illmatic to his wise-man storytelling on Life Is Good, Nas’ impact on hip-hop is inescapable, as much as it undeniable. Or perhaps, DJ Premier said it best: “What has done for hip-hop? He has kept it alive.”

VIBE met up with Nas’ pals and acquaintances through the years to ask them their thoughts on how the Queesbridge-bred rap legend shaped hip-hop. From the producers he’s worked with like DJ Premier to the Trackmasters to his pals in the game like Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Miguel and Common, hip-hop’s tastemakers weigh in on Nas’ rise to legendary status, whether he likes the title or not.

“One thing I never want to be is mainstream,” says Nas. “My goal is to not be what the mainstream calls a legend. I just wanna do what I do. Legend is a big, big title. There’s enough legends out there, I’m just living.”

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Photo Anthony Ngyuen | Story Vibe

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Mark Arcenal

The author Mark Arcenal

Founded Fatlace in 1999. Lived the Agency life for over a decade and then moved to client side and helped in launching the biggest brand Nike has to date, Nike Sportswear as the Global Digital Lead. Today, he's the Creative Director for Fatlace and clothing line, ILLEST.

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