Nasir Jones opens up about performing with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys at Carnegie Hall and the evolution of VIBE's Apr/May cover girl. --Siobhan O'Connor
VIBE: Alicia said that the recent show at Carnegie was a dream come true, in a big part because you have ALWAYS been one of her favorite artists of all time. She said it was a total New York moment to be somewhere so prestigious, and with you there. What was it like for you?
Nas: Carnegie Hall was incredible for a couple of reasons. I told Jay, look at us, two dudes from the projects on one of the most historic stages in the world. [We were] wearing tuxes, drinking vintage wine and champagne, on stage! That's how you do it. Alicia was amazing. The feeling I had being on stage with her and Jay is beyond words in the dictionary. I couldn't believe it. It was so Rat Pack. It's no joke to be the one who creates the official song for the greatest city in the world. Alicia helped make this timeless. "Empire State of Mind" song is a official New York anthem and Alicia keys helped to make it epic.
You've worked several times together over the years. She spoke to me a lot about how much she has changed, and how much her music has changed especially recently. What was Alicia like when you first met her? And what changes have you noticed?
I met Alicia before the world knew her. She was still on Columbia. Not on J Records with Clive yet… [the late '90s]. I don't know if she remembers this but, it was summer time in New York, me and my guys were looking for some place to go out to and we struck up a conversation with her and her girls. And after that I have just watched her do her thing. Now, after we thought all the slots in the music scene were taken... Alicia has showed us the missing key, the cute around the way girl meets, the edge of Tina Marie, and the soulful classiness of Ray Charles.
Do you think in the radio world now, where everything is so pop, there's room for her?
I would say it makes it even better for her because there is only pop. She is a REAL artist in a pop world. This gives her the opportunity to never need to fake it bc authenticity is what people search for in music. She has that.
Alicia is super funny in person. Any stories you can share about her that reflect her true personality?
She's creative. At Carnegie hall it was her idea to stay on stage for "Empire State of Mind" through "New York State of Mind." It made the performance and homage to NY that much more for the three of us to be up there.
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