New York City will honor Nas and his contributions to the creative community as part of the 60th annual GRAMMYs ceremony, marking the awards show's return for the first time in 15 years
NEW YORK – Tomorrow, in the final lead-up to the 60th annual GRAMMY Awards – the first time in 15 years that the ceremony has been held in New York City – the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment will honor Nasir "Nas" Jones with a Spotlight Award for his foundational and genre-changing contributions to hip hop. Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin will present Nas with the award during Sir Lucian Grainge's 2018 Artist Showcase, an exclusive annual event hosted by Universal Music Group that's attended by artists and industry leaders.
"As a musician, Nas has made his name known worldwide, helping to put New York City on the map," said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "But beyond that, he's a role model for the next generation of young artists. He leads by example though philanthropic efforts to combat poverty in Africa, and his pioneering business savvy in local companies. His roots run deep in our city: from Brooklyn to Queens, he is a product of New York City public housing and exemplifies what it means to make it and give back. Without the City's commitment to New Yorkers in public housing, artists like Nas would not have an opportunity to live and create here."
"I'm really honored by this award," said Nasir "Nas" Jones. "Anyone who knows me, knows what New York City means to me and this is special because of that connection. I want to send a special thank you to the Mayor's office, Lucian and Michele."
Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of Universal Music Group, said, "Nas personifies New York. A storyteller of urban life straight out of Queensbridge, his recordings and songwriting are storied, Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling. But even that doesn't encapsulate who he is: a rapper; producer; poet; philanthropist; and entrepreneur. On behalf of all of us at UMG, congratulations to Nas on his well-deserved recognition as recipient of the New York Spotlight Award."
MOME created the Spotlight Award to illuminate excellence in the film, TV, music, publishing, digital content, and advertising sectors. The award recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the growth of NYC's thriving media and entertainment industries. Nas is the third Spotlight Award recipient. In October 2017, MOME honored Emmy-winning comedy writer and "Late Night" host Seth Meyers with the award as part of PaleyFest. Earlier in 2017, the award was given to Greg Young and Tom Meyers on the 10th anniversary of "The Bowery Boys," their popular podcast, which explores New York City's history.
This latest Spotlight award coincides with the return of the GRAMMYs to New York City after a 15-year hiatus. As the birthplace and incubator of so many vital genres of music – from salsa music in East Harlem to disco in midtown, from punk rock in the East Village to hip hop in Queens and the Bronx – NYC is a fitting choice to host this landmark 60th year of the storied awards show.
About Spotlight Award Recipient Nasir "Nas" Jones
Ever since a 17-year-old Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones appeared on Main Source's 1991 classic "Live at the Barbeque," hip-hop would be irrevocably changed. Nas. Gifted poet. Confessor. Agitator. Metaphor master. Street's disciple. Political firebrand. Tongue-twisting genius. With music in his blood courtesy of famed blues musician father Olu Dara, the self-taught trumpeter attracted crowds with his playing at age 4, wrote his first verse at age 7 and, with 1994's Illmatic, created one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time before he could legally drink. Two decades on, Nas remains an incendiary, outspoken and brutally candid rapper.
Before the 11 Grammy nominations, seven platinum albums and Top 5 rankings on MTV's 10 Greatest MCs of All Time and The Source's Top 50 Lyricists of All Time, 17-year-old Nas would take daily trips to Manhattan hoping to secure a major label deal, only to be shot down by nearly every label. When 3rd Bass co-founder MC Serch brought his demo tape to the attention of Faith Newman, then-Director of A&R for Columbia Records, she made a deal with Serch that day, offering Nas a $17,000 advance and the lifeline to begin his career.
In recent years, though, Nas has transcended mere rapper status and engaged in greater levels of philanthropy. The rapper is an avid UNICEF supporter, helping to raise funds for East African region Horn of Africa and teaming up with the family of George Harrison for the organization's Month of Giving. The rapper also donated all proceeds of Distant Relatives, his 2010 collaboration with longtime friend Damian Marley, to help end poverty in Africa. Nas's desire for greater interaction with his fans has also led him to new business ventures.