My Life in Movies: The Rapper Nas on His Childhood Love of ‘Popeye’ and Current Love for Woody Allen

YAHOO! – OCTOBER 3, 2014: “My Life in Movies: The Rapper Nas on His Childhood Love of ‘Popeye’ and Current Love for Woody Allen” by Kevin Polowy

My Life in Movies: The Rapper Nas on His Childhood Love of ‘Popeye’ and Current Love for Woody Allen

Kevin PolowySenior Editor Oct 3, 2014


Over the years we’ve seen some great rap-themed documentaries about groups like A Tribe Called Quest, the elements of emceeing,DJingbreakdancing and graffiti art, and even one helluva hip-hop block partyNas: Time Is Illmatic, however, is the first high-profile rap doc to set its sights on the creation of a single album, in this case Nas’s seminal 1994 street poetry classic Illmatic. (The film, directed by One9, takes a trip down memory lane, too, following the rapper’s growth through a rough childhood in New York’s Queensbridge Projects until the album’s release a few months shy of his 21stbirthday.)

To celebrate release of the big screen Illmatic, the 41-year-old Nas (born Nasir Jones), who has also crossed over into acting with appearances in films like Belly and Black Nativity, told us about the movies that have affected and inspired him throughout the course of his life and career.

What was your favorite movie as a kid? The VHS tape you wore out from watching so much.
Popeye, [with] Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall. I saw it at the movies and I loved it. I couldn’t believe how good the makeup was. I couldn’t believe they could have a real actor playing a cartoon character like Popeye. And Robin Williams pulled it off so well. My first VHS tape was a Christmas present from my mom, and it was Popeye. VCRs were a revolutionary thing at the time and it just made the world seem like a better place. We got a VCR close to Christmas, and didn’t have any movies yet… So Christmastime I open up [a gift] and it wasPopeye. I was fascinated by the VHS tape in itself, being a movie that I could own, and play and press rewind and fast-forward and pause… And it was also my favorite movie at the time.

What was the first movie you snuck into?
The first movie I snuck into was on Steinway St., the Steinway Theater… But there were so many, I can’t remember. The Re-AnimatorBeat Street. Lots of good ones.

You’ve done some acting as well – what were some movies you saw that made you want to act?
Maybe Star Wars: The Empire Strikes BackSuperman with Christopher Reeve. And Rocky with Sylvester Stallone. I wanted to do that.

Was there a movie you loved as a kid that you’re embarrassed by now?
Grease. [Laughs]

What movie(s) do you think you’ve seen more than any other?
Beat StreetThe WarriorsThe WanderersRocky IIIHalloween.Halloween by John Carpenter, not that Rob Zombie crap.

Are there movies that have most inspired your music and lyrics?
Sure. Mahogany with Diana Ross. Claudine with Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. The Color PurpleThe Godfather Part IIFriday the 13th: The Final Chapter.

A lot of folks in hip-hop will cite Scarface. Are you a fan?

Why do you think that movie’s been so influential to rappers?
Hmm. It’s based on real events that happened – it’s not like a sci-fi movie or fantasy with other planets. It’s about real people, Castro, Miami, the drug problem in American, which a lot of hip-hop artists grew up or are a product of. It’s simple. It’s a real story. You can relate to a guy who comes from nothing and makes more money than the average American makes, and gets drunk with power. And he’s the cause of his own demise. Those are the lessons. The streets are a survival test. So that movie goes hand-in-hand with street life. A lot of hip-hop artists come from the streets.

Is there a movie that’s come out recently that you really loved?
Anything by Woody Allen. To Rome With LoveBlue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett is gorgeous, and one of the most incredible actors around today. Woody’s writing and his mind is really interesting.

Are there movies you’ll watch with your kids, your go-to family movies?
Yeah, Coming to AmericaThe WizChristmas Vacation. Just to name a few.

Time Is Illmatic is in select theaters and on video-on-demand now.

Photo: The Wrap

Read more about the Yahoo Article here:

Check out Nas’ ‘ It Ain’t  Hard To Tell’ video: