Rap veteran Nas flipped Hip-Hop on it’s back 20 years ago with his groundbreaking debut album, Illmatic, and now at 40 years of age with several albums under his belt the legendary emcee is set to finally go the independent route for the first time in his long and storied career.
Billboard has learned that Nas along with co-founder Peter Bittenbender, will be launching independent label Mass Appeal Records later this year when his deal with Def Jam expires. Thus giving the New York emcee not only a new platform to release new music, but to shepeard in a new generation of Hip-Hop emcees, who look to have even half the impact in the genre that Nas has in their careers.
“I’m excited to be a part of creating and supporting future careers and legacy artists, promoting love and finding new genius to help the world,” Nas said in an email. “I’m going to be as involved as I need to be, but I also want to be respectful of the art and give artists the space they need to grow and become themselves.”
Bittenbender was previously the founder of Decon Records and last spring along with Nas raised $1.2 million to relaunch the street art and culture publication Mass Appeal magazine, which will serve as a sister company to Mass Appeal Records akin to the relationship between Vice Records and Vice magazine, or The Fader magazine and Fader Label. Mass Appeal will succeed Decon Records, which Bittenbender co-founded with video director Jason Goldwatch in 2002.
Mass Appeal Records will look to make an impact right away too with an annual compilation album set for release later this summer, which will feature friends of the brand like Future, Pusha T, Mac Miller, A$AP Mob and Nas himself performing a cover of the 1994 Gang Starr single that gave the company its name.
Nas also plans on releasing the long-awaited sequel to his Lost Tapes with Lost Tapes 2. The original being a 2002 collection of unreleased music that was very well received by most fans and critics throughout Hip-Hop. A posthumous album from Pimp C that will pair the Houston icon and UGK member with modern production titans like Juicy J, Mike Will Made It and DJ Mustard is also in the works.
Mass Appeal’s distributor will also be Sony RED, reuniting Nas with the parent company that released Illmatic in 1994. Which is so funny considering how things come full circle like that.