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Meaning of ‘Define My Name’ by ‘Nas’ feat. DJ Premier

Released: 2024 • Features: DJ Premier

“Define My Name” by Nas, featuring DJ Premier, is a introspective reflection on Nas’ past and his incredible journey as a hip-hop artist. It’s a lyrical introspection that simultaneously celebrates his success, acknowledges his struggles, and portrays his aspiration to remain relevant and influential.

Opening up the track, Nas delves into the meaning of his name, based on each letter. The N-A-S breakdown offers a unique view into a rapper’s mind: “Name existed forever, means Victory Helper / Whole name means Protector.” He’s stating that his name embodies centuries-old history, wrapping it up by suggesting that he’s the modern embodiment of Gil Scott, a renowned African-American poet and musician.

“The World Cup in Moscow with a blonde who’s a ten,” he’s saying he’s living a high life, surrounded by luxury and beauty. But he’s aware of his roots, referencing times when the streets were more dangerous, “They used to kill for shades, sneaks and bombers”.

In the next verse, he furthers his retrospective journey, referencing historic moments before Christianity arrived in America, and then further, to times when humans communicated through clicks and cave paintings. He always had a streak of rebellion, “Nasty like way before even Rome had a sewage”, basically stating he’s been ‘hard’ since time immemorial.

Moving forward, Nas references his royal lineage in “DNA of King James, kin of Saint Michael”. He gets a bit playful with “Polygamous-minded,” signaling his love for women, but then getting serious with a comment about New York’s controversial ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy. He continues his introspective journey by admitting his past thoughts on age and hip-hop, and how he’s proven himself wrong.

Nas references some influential peers like Ra, Kane, Kool G, and Kris, showing respect to those who were successful in their craft. He acknowledges the impact they had on hip-hop and how they are part of his journey. He ends the verse attributing his survival and success to hard work and defiance of odds “How could you hate me? I survived the ’80s”.

The outro is a humorous exchange between Nas and DJ Premier, reminiscing about the release of ‘Illmatic’ 30 years ago and signaling their intention to continue creating music together. The reference to ‘Illmatic’ is significant, as it is universally acknowledged as Nas’ seminal work, and one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

Overall, “Define My Name” is an introspective track that sees Nas reflecting on his journey, his legacy, and his aim to keep pushing boundaries in the hip-hop scene. It’s a testament to not only his ability to craft brilliant bars but to his longevity in a genre that often sees artists come and go.

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