As Nas readies his tenth studio album, the Illmatic MC has taken on a new role. He recently explained how he’s become an elder statesmen of sorts to the younger generation of hip-hop stars, including Nicki Minaj and Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator.

“Unconsciously I find myself correcting [the youth],” Nas told CBS Local. “Not always intentionally.”

While he caused a big controversy with his endorsement of Gwyneth Paltrow‘s use of the “N”-word in a tweet, he also has had lots of kind words to say about the current hip-hop contingent. He recently gave lavish praise to Rick Ross’ protégé Meek Mill.

“I got my eyes on him,” he told Rap-Up. “He’s the next one to take this s*** over.”

Meek, humbled by Nas’ words, responded in kind. “Shout out to the big homie, Nas,” Meek said. “I gotta lot of love for that, man…He gave me a lot of confidence with that.”

Nas appeared as Nicki Minaj’s love interest in her video for “Right By My Side,” and he bonded with controversial rapper Tyler, the Creator when the young rabble-rouser interviewed Nas for the cover of XXL magazine. In the article, he scolded Tyler for proudly claiming that he once threw snowballs at an elderly women.

“I love Nicki. I love [Tyler’s] wild spirit, I love his energy,” he told CBS Local. “I think he’s crazy and he makes me laugh. I saw a lot of the guy in me so I can’t be a hypocrite. I can’t just point the finger because I don’t like my elders to do that to me. I wasn’t a saint [laughs]. But I will still give you my opinion.”

Nas offers more than just opinion on his new album. The set, which features a diverse range of collaborators that includes Rick Ross, the late Amy Winehouse, Large Professor, and Mary J. Blige, finds Nas giving insights into his own stumbles as a father raising his 17-year-old daughter, as heard on the heartfelt single and video for “Daughters.”

The writing process for Life is Good proved to be cathartic for the 38-year-old MC.

“The timing was just calling for me to not avoid all the s*** that was going on out there,” Nas said, referring to the reports about his tax woes and courtroom battles with Kelis. “It is what it is. Life is poetry and that’s what this new album is. I haven’t had a record out in a long time. I recorded my first song in 1991. I’ve had the longest career of strength, focus, and still selling records.”

Nas’ Life is Good Is due out July 17.   —Keith Murphy, CBS Local


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