The death of Notorious B.I.G. in 1997 paved the way for a generation-defining race between Jay-Z and Nas to be crowned the king of New York rap, with each artist pushing the other to some of hip hop's most seminal landmarks. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nasir Jones (born September 14, 1973) rose from the Queens, New York housing projects to sign with Columbia Records and release the classic debut Illmatic in 1994. More thoughtful and socially aware than most of his brash, posturing contemporaries, Nas crossed over into the mainstream with the hits “Street Dreams” and “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” and topped the US album charts with Foxy Brown and AZ as part of the supergroup The Firm. Through a career that has notched up the US Number 1 albums It Was Written (1996), I Am... (1999), Hip Hop Is Dead (2006), Untitled (2009), and Life Is Good (2012). In 2018, he returned to the charts with the bite-sized album Nasir, recorded on Kanye West’s famed Wyoming ranch and chiefly produced by West himself. In 2019, he unveiled his long-awaited final LP on Def Jam, a sequel to The Lost Tapes, before reemerging in 2020 with another Grammy-nominated album entitled King’s Disease. A second installment titled King’s Disease II saw the light in 2021 and peaked at Number 3 on the Billboard 200. A star-studded affair, it featured guest spots by Eminem, EPMD, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, YG, Lauryn Hill, Charlie Wilson, Blxst. That same year, Nas surprise-released his fifteenth studio album Magic, featuring guest appearances by DJ Premier and ASAP Rocky, and production by Hit-Boy, who also helped produce the Top 10 entry King's Disease III in 2022. Magic 2 and Magic 3 both followed in 2023, with each release reaching the Top 40 of Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.