Let's begin with a disclaimer: Nas doesn't endorse the following sentence.
But he's the greatest lyricist of all time.
Those words were carefully chosen: "lyricist" over "rapper" or "hip-hop artist;" "greatest" instead of "most successful;" "all time" rather than "today."
Those distinctions are important. Still, Nas isn't buying it.
"It's wayyyyyy, way, way too early in our lives," he said when asked where he fits among history's best MCs. "It's great to put a list together, but don't take it too seriously because your list won't matter 10 years from now or 15 years from now. It'll be a different list."
In an interesting read over at CNN this weekend, writer Eliott C. McLaughlin makes his compelling case for Nas as the greatest lyricist of all-time. He notes from the very beginning, as you can see above, that those words were carefully chosen.
This debate is certainly a fun conversation, but at the end of the day, how you measure "greatest lyricist of all-time" is subjective. As is who you choose, and altogether, your view on music itself. I like pieces like this because they're good conversation starters about the hip hop culture, but if you're taking subjective and immeasurable crowns like these so seriously, and looking for an end-all, be-all answer... well, that's just where I stop at least. No reason to get carried away.
All that said, weigh in with your thoughts on who yourfavorite lyricist is and why!