On ‘Who Killed It?,’ Nas Explains That Voice. ‘Hip-Hop Is Dead’ Quotes: ‘I Was Watching James Cagney Movies On Repeat’

While the song is technically a unique and innovative approach to the storytelling tracks for which Nas is known and appreciated, the Queens superstar uses a cartoonish, film-noir detective voice that continues to irritate hip-hop fans.

Despite the fact that its concept has subsequently been disproven, Nas’ album Hip-Hop Is Dead was one of his most commercially successful albums and remains in the top half of his discography in terms of audience appreciation — with the exception of one song, “Who Killed It?” from a 1930s gangster film. While the song is technically a unique and innovative approach to the storytelling tracks for which Nas is known and appreciated, the Queens superstar uses a cartoonish, film-noir detective voice that continues to irritate hip-hop fans.

Desus & Mero finally addressed the rap legend on Sunday night’s episode of Showtime’s Desus & Mero to find out why he picked such an eyebrow-raising technique. Surprisingly, Nas is game; he’s certainly too far along in his career to be defensive of 15-year-old albums, but he acknowledges, “I wilded out.” At the time, I was binge-watching James Cagney films… It was almost comical to make that record, and then to leave it on the album — it happens.”


This leads to a larger conversation about the importance of details in Nas’ storytelling over the years, as well as a light flex about Nas having time in the morning to watch Regis And Kathy Lee. Nas’ friendship with DMX, his restaurant business Sweet Chick, and his latest venture, a cigar brand, were also mentioned during the conversation.

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