America’s popular music family tree is a wild fig growing out the depths of South Africa. Its roots in blackness are the deepest and it’s undeniable. Hip-hop legend Nas paid homage to those roots in an open letter, giving credit to hip-hop OGs, blues, jazz and folk musicians like his father.
To celebrate Black History Month, Nas wrote an open letter about how music impacted his life and recognized his dad, jazz musician Ola Dura, for coloring both his musical palate and mind.
“It was through the blues and jazz and folk music that my father played that I learned the importance of our history — our African ancestry, our struggles here as black Americans and ultimately, our great triumphs too,” he wrote.
Although he had too many instruments to count when growing up, it wasn’t until Escobar heard “the whistle part of Eric B and Rakim’s “My Melody” and the “radical harmonics” booming from DJ Marley Marl’s speakers that his creative soul became free.
“It was an echo of freedom, the notion that someone who looked like me could have a platform to say what was important, and more importantly be funky,” Nas penned. “It was another cool little nod that would say to me, young blood, when you’re ready, the world is yours.”
Read the full letter here and watch the video below.