Nasir Jones, IPA: [nɑːˈsiər], (born September 14, 1973), better known by his stage name Nas, IPA: [nɑːz], formerly Nasty Nas, is an American rapper. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, he was born and raised in the Queensbridge housing projects in New York City. Although he dropped out of middle school, he attained a high degree of literacy that he would later use in his lyrics. Nas was signed to Columbia Records in 1994, when his debut album Illmatic came out. Illmatic was a critically-acclaimed bestseller and would go on to be widely hailed a classic. Several other albums followed, including It Was Written in 1996, I Am... and Nastradamus in 1999, and Stillmatic in 2001. Nas was part of The Firm, a hip-hop supergroup that also included rappers AZ, Foxy Brown, and Nature. However, the group released only one album together.
From 2001 to 2005, Nas was involved in a widely publicized feud with rapper Jay-Z; both rappers verbally attacked each other in their songs. The two formally ended their rivalry through duet performances at concerts sponsored by New York City-area hip-hop radio stations. Nas signed to Jay-Z's label Def Jam in 2006; Def Jam released his albums Hip Hop is Dead in 2006 and an untitled album in 2008.