As the fifth and final single of Illmatic, “One Love” won the hearts of hip hop fans all over with its unique storytelling-through-a-letter structure
Combining Nas’ vivid imagery and sincere lyrics to his incarcerated homie with Q-Tip’s out-of-the-world production, which sampled “Smilin’ Billy Suite Pt. II” by The Heath Brothers, “One Love” was a highlight track on an record full of highlight tracks.
In an interview with HipHopDX, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his seminal debut, Nas revealed that when Q-Tip gave him the beat for “One Love”, the Tribe frontman already an idea for the track called “My Summer Vacation.”
Nas: When Q-Tip first gave me the beat, he had this idea, it was called “My Summer Vacation.” It was funny he said that, because it was like a student who’s off for the summer and comes back and tells the class what he did. I had “One Love”—at least the first two verses—already written, and I couldn’t wait to show him the different kind of letter I had. It wasn’t summer vacation, but it was about something else that Q-Tip could relate to. When he heard it, he was like, “Wow. That’s it.”Memory Lane: 5 Lesser-Known Stories From The Creation Of Nas’ “Illmatic” | HipHopDX