NAS HAS NEVER BEEN my favorite; no idol worship here. I'm from Queens, but when debates over Illmatic and Ready to Die sparked, I rolled with the chubby kid from Bedford-Stuyvesant. What B.I.G. lacked in substance, he made up for in style and swagger. Now, as far as debates go, that's a pretty ignorant rationalization for choosing sides. Not that I'm crossing over and proclaiming Illmatic the Holy Grail of hip-hop. I'm just saying my debate points as a shorty were a little naive.

I met Nasir about a decade after his debut, and once again, I wasn't feeling the God. His lack of respect for my time annoyed me. I appreciated the opportunity to rock a cover for Elliott Wilson (Nas burning XXL, The Source and a few other influential mags), but three days of waiting for Mr. Jones in Atlanta wasn't my idea of being productive. On that third day, in my suite, I wondered if Nas thought he was being productive, chain-smoking blunts, firing non sequiturs in an attempt to validate his war on the media. With him as high as the Euro, I didn't capture the intricacies of Esco. I felt like I got ethered.

I've read many Nasir stories since then, but none inspired me to put together an iTunes playlist of ol' boy's catalog 'til the inaugural KING Legacy Q&A in this issue (wait 'til the uncut edition hits The piece is as comprehensive as it's gonna get. Unless Mr. Jones writes a book, like the cover line says, you're wasting your time reading anything else Nas-related. The legend (yeah, he can have that) is candid, honest and uncharacteristically clear; he doesn't back down from senior editor Thomas Golianopoulos' invasive questions--admirable. I'm big on B.I.G., but I will admit he had it twisted when he said dude's reign on the top was short like leprechauns.

I have a feeling the members of our seventh Coming Kings class are also in it for the long haul. (Hey, Laz--Spike and James Cameron in one year? Come on, homie. You're not playing fair!) And with that off my chest, I've gotta run. Stacey Dash marathon in the conference room in 10 minutes. Yep. Clueless back to back to back. Huh? What about her Fresh Prince of Bel Air appearance? As if...

Jermaine Hall