If you wanted to learn all about rap, who would you go to?
Bursting onto the East Coast scene in the early 1990s, Nas has gone on to dominate hip-hop, becoming one of its most poignant and influential lyricists and releasing arguably the genre’s most revolutionary album with Illmatic. He’s now facilitating the rise of a new generation with his own label, Mass Appeal.
It’s an impressive CV, but is that enough for a MasterClass from the rap genius to be worth it?
If you want an answer to that question, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve taken the Nas MasterClass so you don’t have to (unless it's worth it, of course).
In this Nas MasterClass review I’ll cover all the information to help you decide if it's right for you.
If you’re short on time, here are the highlights.
You will learn:
- How to tell a story through music
- The essentials of rhyme scheme and rapping in rhythm
- Insight into Nas’ use of the studio, and how he puts a track together
- The poetic and lyrical techniques used by Nas
- How to change up, challenge and push your writing to make it unique
- What Nas learnt, and what you can learn from rap legends and history
- Nas’ artistic evolution, and how he found his voice in the industry
- Hip-hop's cultural significance
- How to find your own voice
- Learn from the absolute master of lyricism and rap storytelling
- Incredibly personal and sincere, with a rare honesty from someone so influential
- Teaches you the cultural role of music
- High production value with strong visuals makes this entertaining as well as informative
- Direct insight into Nas’ studio process and techniques
- Remarkably inspirational
- Could be longer
- Not for people who want specific tips for improving their rapping
Length of course: 12 video lessons totaling 1 hour and 52 minutes
Best for: Anyone with a remote interest in rap. You don’t even need to know who Nas is. This course gives a strong overview of the genre's history and how it works, so whether you're a hip-hop head or a novice looking to learn, you’re sure to find something of value here.
Overall: Will this course make you a better rapper? Almost certainly. It is truly rare and refreshing to see a course that is so personal, and so tailored to a specific individual's career and insight. But the nature of hip-hop means that this is one of the best ways to learn. On top of giving you direct tips on improving your rap game, Nas’ MasterClass goes beyond. He wants to show you what music means to him, how it changed his life, and to inspire you to do the exact same, whoever you are.
In this review I’ll be covering:
- About Nas and MasterClass
- Inside the Nas MasterClass
- What I liked about this class
- What I think could be improved
- Who I think this course is for
- The cost and any potential alternatives and most importantly…
Is the Nas MasterClass worth it? Let’s get started!
With rap becoming perhaps the most dominant music genre, more and more people are trying to get in the game. Few have succeeded. Even fewer can claim that they are legends in the style. Only one or two can claim that they released an album that genuinely redefined how hip-hop was seen and understood.
Nas fits into every category.
Forever associated with the East Coast scene, and especially his native New York City, Nas’ Illmatic was released in 1994 and went on to become one of the biggest, most successful and most influential hip-hop records of all time.
His potent lyricism and hard-hitting delivery went on to truly define the 90s’ rap sound, inspiring countless imitators across the US and the rest of the globe.
Although his career waned a little in the 2000s, once you’ve dominated the world where else are you expected to go?His 12th studio album, King’s Disease, was released in 2020 and won that year's Grammy for Best Rap Album, proving that the old master still has some fight in him.
Nas’ lyrical technique is considered by many to be second to none, perfectly matched with his innovative, conversational delivery. This has landed the rapper and his music on numerous Greatest of All Time lists,– almost alwayssomewhere near, if not right at the very top.
Check out the Nas MasterClass trailer to find out more about your potential teacher.
After launching in 2014, MasterClass is now known as one of the most easily recognizable learning platforms on the internet.
The site aims to provide high quality, well-produced lessons from world-renowned instructors, with courses ranging from cooking with Gordon Ramsey to acting with Natalie Portmanto performing with Herbie Hancock.
Despite this unique selling point, MasterClass isn’t for everyone, and no course or instructor is the same.
So, is the Nas MasterClass right for you? Read on to find out.
An Inside Look Into The Nas MasterClass
Nas’ MasterClass is a lot shorter than most on the site, clocking in at 1 hour 52 minutes, spread out between 12 video lessons.
In addition to this, taking the class means you receive:
- A 22-page accompanying workbook to help guide you through the lessons
- The opportunity to speak and connect with others taking the course
Here, I’m going to break down each lesson of the course. The aim of this is to let you see inside the MasterClass, and help you to decide whether or not it’s something you might be interested in.
Before we begin, I should preface by saying that most MasterClasses open with an introductory lesson and closewith a summary one. As these lessons are fairly formulaic and slim on actual teaching, I’ve decided to exclude them from this list.
Lesson 2: Telling Your Story Through Music
Nas kicks off with a lesson about telling your story through music. How else could he start?
As a genre, rap is uniquely positioned to give you insight into a lyricist's mindset and how they see the world.
Nas is widely considered among the very best at being able to tell a story through his words, which give the listener insight into his deepest thoughts, his story and his struggles. Now it’s time for you to learn how he does it.
He goes into the thought behind the lyrics of one of his most famous tracks, NY State Of Mind. He describes this as a raw expression of what he’s feeling at the time and encourages you to do the same thing with your own work.
Beyond his personal story, Nas goes on to give some real tips for becoming a better MC. You need to intrigue your audience. They need to feel like you're talking to them.
There isn’t much more detail or description as to how you go about this. However, Nas does give some specific tips for improving how you tell your story through rap.
Like a regular story, there has to be a beginning, a middle and an end. You need to consider places, feelings, character emotions. All the fine details.
It may seem quite self-explanatory, but storytelling is a disappearing craft in music. So it’s refreshing to have someone encourage this style, and spell out the ways you can make it your own.
This first lesson also gives you a proper sense of Nas as a teacher. He is just as evocative and articulate as he is on his records.
Lesson 3: Rapping And Rhyme Scheme
This is the first and in some ways only technical lesson. If you're looking for direct tips, this is the lesson for you.
I should say there is no golden nugget of wisdom Nas gives for improving your rhyme scheme. One of the main takeaways of this whole class is finding your voice, so the way you perform, and how you construct your rhymes will naturally be different to Nas.
I would also say that for rappers, producers and musicians in general this is all reasonably self-explanatory. But if you know nothing about rap or how music works, Nas does a surprisingly good job of explaining rhyme schemes. Although he obviously knows what he’s talking about, I didn’t expect this lesson to be quite so technical.
In this lesson, you will learn:
- Why you have to entertain in the first bar
- How to count in music with a track
- Rhythmic patterns and how to switch them up
- Seriously good lyricists to listen to as a reference
- Brining your culture and attitudes to your words
Lesson 4 & 5: Writing And Recording An Original Song
Nas changes up the lesson style here.
Rather than sitting down and chatting with you, Nas is now in the studio with a producer. Their aim is not only to produce a track for this MasterClass but also to show you the insights of their method.
Nas actually uses the notes app on his for his ideas, but there’s a nice little tip that I hadn’t remotely considered before. When you’re in the studio, you need something that you can read and understand quickly, as that’s what you’ll be recording with. But, even more importantly,not worrying about stumbling on the words will allow you to be more creative.
If that means using a pen and paper, Nas says go for it.
Another thing I noticed about this lesson is not only how quick Nas’ brain truly is, but also how meticulous the process can be.
When it comes to putting his bars together, Nas will come up with words on the spot that I would never think of. He obviously has an incredible vocabulary. But for me the mystery wasn’t the words he used, but how he used them. Each phrase or statement seems to fit the song just right, especially on Illmatic.
Nas says that much of the inspiration for his rhymes will come directly from getting familiar with the bit. He also stresses the importance of using the producer as a reference for what works and what doesn’t
One thing I learnt here was how collaborative the process is. You get this with Nas telling you how essential the producer can be when it comes to helping him formulate his lyrics, but you also get to see it unfold as it happens.
Once he has a couple of ideas nailed down, Nas goes back and tweaks and changes the track until it's exactly what he wants. Again, this process is collaborative.
There isn’t much direct explanation of how being in the studio works, but just being able to watch a little bit of magic happen with your own eyes means you’ll learn just as much.
Lessons 6: Poetic and Lyrical Techniques
This is where Nas breaks down some of the techniques that have made him one of the most prolific lyricists in rap.
Rather than going into massive detail on one specific technique, Nas instead gives a list of examples from his various songs and performances that showcase a particular device.
- Figurative Language
- Wordplay and puns
- Cultural references
It may seem like an English lesson based on that list, but Nas is a storyteller. What he does is communicate. He paints a picture with his words that he hopes affects you and gives you insight into the way he sees the world.
To do that you need to have a fairly developed sense of your own perspective, you need to figure out what it is you want to say. The rest of the course is dedicated to how Nas found his voice, intending to help you find yours.
But these technical lessons are also important because when you’ve figured out what you want to say, you then need to decide how to say it. For Nas, this means using all of the above.
Using slang to communicate his background, and engage with his people. Referencing culture to ground his music in a particular place and time. Bringing different ideas and concepts together through using figurative language and playing with words.
I do wish this lesson had been a little longer. There was an opportunity for a real deep dive into Nas’ technique and how it’s changed, but instead, it turned out to be a bit of a whistle-stop tour.
Lesson 7: Case Study: Writing Challenges
Leading on nicely from the previous lesson, this is the shortest class in the course.
For centuries, artists and composers have set themselves challenges, inflicting boundaries on the traditional methods they do their work, and asking the question “what if….?”
This had led to some of the most creative artistic works of all time.
Nas uses the case study of his song Rewind as an example of how setting challenges and boundaries on yourself can push you to the most creative places you’ve been.
Tired of doing the same thing over and over, Nas set himself the challenge of telling the story backwards through the song Rewind. Although this meant going against his intuitions about rapping, and his normal formula for creating a track, this challenge led him to a place he’d never been before.
The result was a track unlike anything in his or any other rappers discography.
Lesson 8: Learning From Hip Hop Legends
In lesson 8 we get an absolute goldmine of hip hop artists for you to check out. If you are a fan of that old school, 80’s rap style this isn’t so much of a lesson as it is a playlist recommendation.
Here’s a couple of the artists you’ll learn about:
- Queen (We Will Rock You was the OG rap song)
- LL Cool J
- Public Enemy
- Biggie Smalls
- Wild Style and Beat Street; the early hip-hop movies
But this lesson is so much more than just a roll call of famous artists. It’s still a MasterClass, so you get to learn about how these artists contributed to the culture we have today, and why their music is so relevant.
You also get to hear all about this from a man who was there himself. Nas grew up at a time when rap was just getting off the ground, so he was in the perfect place to contribute.
You might ask how some rich celebrity reminiscing about being friends with Tupac has any relevance to you.
But that’s kind of the point.
Nas isn’t teaching you about rap storytelling, he’s teaching you how to tell your story. Who influences you? What music did you love growing up? What contributions can you make to the people that came before?
As musicians and artists, it’s easy to get fatigued over how many innovators there have been. With so much music out there, how can you still have a creative idea? Surely all the ground has been covered by now?
Nas says that the rappers he grew up listening to left a pocket of music untouched for him to innovate in. He took everything they did and innovated in that space where they didn’t go. It’s comforting to hear from a star like Nas that it’s ok to be inspired and to take from the music you love.
Ultimately we are all just adding our experience to other people's ideas. That’s what creativity is and that’s what we can learn from hip-hop legends.
Lesson 9: Use Your Power And Your Voice
The course nicely shifts from how early rappers inspired Nas’ voice to how he can help you find your own.
It’s impossible to give a formula for “finding your voice” because the expression is so vague. The best Nas can do is show you how he did it, and it’s more than enough.
This lesson shows you how and why it’s so important to speak on injustice. If there’s something in the world you disagree with, or you're frustrated with, music can be a great outlet for sharing how you feel. And few genres give the listener such direct insight into what the artist is feeling as rap does.
Nas speaks about how his experience meant he couldn’t just stand there and be silent. This is relevant because it shows that you can have the best production or perfect rhymes, but ultimately the music has to come from you. You need to be doing this because you have something to say.
Does that mean every rapper has to talk about social issues?
No, that’s just where Nas’ life experiences led him to musically.
Nas speaks about two songs, One Love and Ultra Black, and shows us how he used his voice and his music to spread a message.
He was moved by the murder of George Floyd. It chimed with his experience. And it’s from this that we get the music so many people adore.
There’s a beautiful point about how writers are revered centuries after they're gone. Even though artists can be years apart or spread across the world, the best ones are united in the fact that they had something to say, and they said it.
Lesson 10: Nas’ Artistic Evolution
This is the most personal lesson In what has up until this point already been a very personal course.
In another hip-hop history class (which I never knew I needed), this time we get a career dive into Nas’ growth as a rapper.
Nas starts the lesson by claiming he’s all for peace and love, which might surprise you if you’ve heard some of his stuff.
Nas explains that this is because when you’re younger, you tend to make assumptions about what you're seeing. And from these assumptions, young people often find that they feel the need to defend themselves.
Comparatively, when you're older you might come at things from a wiser perspective. You’ve had more experiences, you’ve lived more, you know more.
Nas says that King’s Lynn came from a place where he was more comfortable, more secure. Instead of calling the world out, he was introspective and allowed himself to be the enemy. It feels like I’m writing about a Shakespearean character, but Macbeth had a way worse flow.
What I love is that Nas doesn’t claim one is better than the other. It’s all part of the same process. Being himself when he was young allowed him to become the musician he is today. It takes time to figure it out. Not enough people talk about this, and it’s something we can all learn from.
Lesson 11: The Music Industry
The penultimate lesson see’s Nas give his thoughts on how the music industry functions.
Again, we learn about the experience of being an artist at a time when rap wasn’t taken seriously. Nas had to build his own time and put in all the work outside of the studio to make a name for himself.
From there he developed his own label. Mass Appeal started from scratch and went to the top.
One thing I liked about this lesson was that it was honest about the industry. From how I’ve described it may seem like a very “follow your dreams” kind of ordeal.
You wouldn’t be mistaken for assuming that. Passion and authenticity are very big themes in this course. But Nas is also realistic about how he’s struggled. He acknowledges that music is a beautiful thing, but sometimes you are concerned with feeding yourself and that has to factor into your plan and journey.
But, for me, this was the weakest lesson. I just felt like with all his experience and hard work Nas would have a little more to say about how it all works.
I liked what I got, I just wish there was more.
Lesson 12: Hip-Hop Is Our Universe
Nas ends the MasterClass with a summary of the main points he’s made.
We get a recap of hip-hop’s history and place in world music, how it started in the street and went to become about decadence.
Nas says there is a place for this kind of materialism, contrasting a lot of older rappers and music critics of the day. Hip-hop has a deep history of exploiting social ills, explaining African history and holding up something of a cultural mirror.
It makes sense that as the genre expanded, so did its topics. Artists had bigger lifestyles now, they were concerned with business and money, and that’s reflected in the music.
If the golden rule is to write what you know, then this absolutely has a place in the genre. Just make sure you change it up a little because Nas doesn’t like one-trick ponies.
It is very rare to get this level of insight into how a genre operates, let alone from one of its most revered performers.
Nas explains how this class has been reflective for him, which you don’t hear many instructors say. He then ends with a speech about what you should take away from this.
There isn’t much else to add here, so I’ll just paraphrase.
Don’t listen to anybody apart from yourself. You know you best.
Speak things into existence. It’s your world, do the right thing with it.
What I Liked About The Course
Look Inside The Mind Of A Genius
Nas makes this course what it is.
Of course, he does. It’s who you came here to see. But even approaching this class as a fan, I was surprised by how much I learned and how articulate he was.
I think part of this is because he’s not trying to be a snake-oil salesman here. With so much competition online these days, having a celebrity involved with your project can occasionally mean you don’t come through with the goods. Many sites will claim to have the secret formula for success when in reality they don’t. In fact, it doesn’t exist.
This MasterClass is honest and authentic. Nas doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Instead, he describes his journey, his process and uses that as a way for you to be influenced. This is how you use a celebrity instructor.
Even the course title lives up to expectations. This isn’t Nas teaching rap, or hip-hop, or making it. It’s about rap storytelling. It’s about using your experiences and your ideas and translating that to music.
One of my favorite bits is when he describes the intent behind Illmatic. He says the purpose of the album was to have you, the listener, experience the pocket of life he was living in then. He wanted you to smell, hear and feel like you’re in mid-1990s Queens.
This shows how transcendent music can be. How you can give people a vision of a life that is completely different to their own. It’s something so powerful about music that isn’t really talked about but addresses it directly, and that makes this class unique.
Even if this course were just Nas telling stories about his career, and classic hip-hop history, I would still love itBut we actually do get insight into the techniques he uses in his rhymes, how he works in the studio, where he gets his ideas.
When the actual teaching feels like an added bonus, you know you’ve got a good teacher.
Teaches The Significance Of Hip-Hop
This is probably my personal favorite element of this course.
Hip-hop has become a phenomenon recently, at least within the grand scheme of music. What started in small, underdeveloped pockets of New York has taken over the world. With so much history, so much culture and so much to learn there’s quite a lot to unpack.
This course is a great place to start. It’s rare to have so much of hip-hop history and development in one place, but this course goes into detail about what it is, how it started and where it’s going in so much more detail than I expected.
That isn’t to say it’s the most comprehensive or even the most detailed account of rap music, and there are probably places you can go to to learn more. But what this course lacks in length it makes up for in content.
With so many facts about the genre existing, how do you pick which ones to teach? Which ones are the most relevant?
Having Nas tell you is probably a good place to start. Your instructor is someone who was born into this genre, grew up with it, made it his own and became one of its shining stars.
When it comes to rap, Nas knows what he’s talking about.
This makes the MasterClass the ideal place to learn about the genre. Not because it’ll give you the most detail, but because it is taught from the perspective of someone who has a rare insight into how the genre has developed and the transformative power it can have.
There’s also the added bonus of expanding your playlist. If you know nothing about Nas, this course gives you the lowdown of some of his biggest songs, whether it’s through little clips or him breaking them down.
You’ll also be introduced to the artists Nas thinks are important. Biggie, Tupac, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, these are all legends that you need to know about. If you like the genre in its modern incarnation, why not dig around it’s roots and see what you find. You’ll probably have a taste for the music that started it all.
Teaches You Nas’ Process
Leading on from the first point I made, I just wanted to talk specifically about some of my favorite parts of this course.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step way of building your rap career, look elsewhere or at least just t be prepared for this course not to meet expectations.
We’ll get on to what this MasterClass doesn’t do later, but for now, I want to praise what it does.
The two lessons of Nas in the studio are goldmines in terms of showing how he works his magic. It’s a show, don’t tell kind of approach. Rather than explaining everything he’s doing, Nas opts to just take you for the ride.
Don’t get me wrong, he still goes into why he’s making certain choices. But that isn’t the point. Instead, he wants to give you a real insight into what goes on in the studio.
These lessons bust several of your conceptions of how a rap session is recorded. First, the process is very collaborative. Nas is constantly in a back and forth with his producer. Also, it’s very meticulous. Nas is constantly tinkering with how the track sounds and alters his own artistic direction under a new idea or suggestion.
Seeing this kind of insight unfold in front of you is quite something.
I also loved how Nas described how he uses his techniques in songs. Sure there isn’t a specific breakdown of what to use and when. But I think that’s not what you should be expecting.
Instead, he gives you a range of techniques and devices he’s used and encourages you to try them for yourself. What more could you want?
High Production Value
We have quite low attention spans, especially in this day and age.
In the world we live in, it’s hard to stand out, particularly when you are trying to educate people. For better or for worse, sitting down and explaining ideas doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.
Unless you’re Nas.
Then you have enough charisma and knowledge to do just that. So whilst this MasterClass doesn’t rely on its aesthetic, it does elevate it.
All MasterClasses are well shot, well lit and well-directed. It is part of their brand. But something about the visual element of this course really stood out to me.
Part of it is the lyrics. This is a class on storytelling so it makes sense to visualize this aspect of the teaching. When Nas is teaching, you’ll often see lyrics pop up on the screen, color-coded according to which one’s he’s emphasising. It helps to illuminate the points he’s making.
I also love the inclusion of footage from Nas’ career, which adds to the brevity of what he’s talking about when he goes into his evolution as an artist.
The class just had a general aesthetic that played into Nas’ artistry. Something about the imagery and footage fitted almost perfectly with the imagery of Nas’ career. This massively enhanced my enjoyment of the classes.
You will be inspired after taking this course.
With so much pessimism about starting out and making it in music,t’s refreshing to have a big name like Nas give so much encouragement.
What I love is that there’s very little mention of the fame and fortune element. It seems what he’s most proud of is being able to share his story with the world. That is so refreshing and so inspiring.
Sure, they might seem cliched, to begin with. But this class shows you that Nas is authentic about how transformative music can be.
He got to where he is through telling his story, and he wants you to feel empowered to tell yours.
What I Think Could Be Improved
Could Be Longer
If your main critique of something is that you wish there was more of it, that’s obviously a good sign.
I know I should be reviewing what this did offer rather than the things it didn’t do, but I also want to be honest. And, when I finished this MasterClass, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t left wanting more.
Totalling1 hour 52 minutes, this MasterClass is much shorter than others on this site, and as a consequence, it carries a lot less content.
As I said above, I loved what Nas covered here in terms of the lessons. Focusing on his career development, his artistry, his technique, the cultural influence of the genre are all the things I wanted to see when I first took this course.
So, rather than adding anything new, I just wish we could’ve gone into more depth.
If you're a fan of Nas, if you listen to his music or see any of his interviews, you know he has a lot to say. That's part of the lesson; using rap to tell your story when you have a story to tell. But that does mean I feel there could’ve been so much more discussed here.
For example, Nas has decades of experience in the music industry and has seen it from the side of someone starting out and someone who has risen to the top. I find it hard to believe that all of that knowledge could be condensed into under 10 minutes.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Nas and hearing what he had to say. I just wish there was more of it. Even in a MasterClass situation with a celebrity, fostering a relationship with a teacher can have a massive impact on what you take from class.
When this MasterClass ended I felt like I was only just coming to understand Nas and what he was about.
Given that the content was so impressive, course length is certainly a much more minor flaw. But, as I said, I left this class wanting more. If you're looking for a real deep dive into Nas’ ideas and career, that might be something to consider before enrolling.
Limited On Teaching “How To Rap”
This isn’t a critique so much as it’s a warning.
With the rise of the internet, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want and when we want it. The same holds for educating people about music.
Whereas it would once take hours and hours of practice across a timespan of years to master an instrument or style, sites now claim they can improve your abilities in a matter of months, weeks or even days.
This is done by giving direct tips, tricks and tutorials to get you from A to B as quickly as possible.
If you’re looking for this kind of teaching you won’t find it here.
Nas isn’t set on teaching you how to rap. Instead, he wants to use his career and experiences to teach you why to rap.
You won’t get to learn what rhyme scheme to use where, but you will see how Nas took in the world around him and told a story with it, and hopefully find ways and methods for you to do the same thing.
Sure, there could’ve been a couple more technical exercises and examples, but the title of this course isn’t “Nas teaches rap”; it’s “Nas teaches storytelling.” With a title so abstract, I think he does well.
Even then, there are a couple of lessons dedicated to the technical aspects of rapping, rhyme scheme and technique. This is a lot more than I expected, especially when MasterClasses like this tend to be a little more abstract.
This point does tie into my main critique of the course, as given that we do get a bit of technical insight, I do believe we would get a little more if the course was longer.
So, if you're looking for the information that will turn you into an overnight success, you won’t find it here. But that’s not a problem with the MasterClass, instead, it’s about setting the right expectations.
Who is this Course For?
When this course was released Nas fans took the streets in fits of joy.
Well, not really. But the actual reaction was pretty much an online equivalent to that.
It may seem like this course is directly geared to hip-hop enthusiasts, and specifically fans of Nas (these two groups are basically the same). And whilst this is true, I wouldn’t say you need any prior knowledge of who Nas is to learn something here.
It’s clear that Nas is keen to demonstrate how much the genre means to him, and that means delving right into his career and the history of the genre.
If you know nothing about either of these, you will learn so much. Those of us that do get the rare opportunity of hearing it all from the source; someone who was there and who was profoundly influenced by and had a profound influence on how the genre took shape.
Other, smaller groups who will gain something from this course include:
- Total novices who need the inspiration to get started with rapping
- Any artist or musician struggling to find their own voice
- Modern rap fans looking for details on Nas and the genre's development
- Rappers with no clue about what goes on in a studio session
- Rappers with good flows, who struggle with storytelling and creativity
- Producers and beat makers looking for insight into the MC’s perspective
As I said, there’s not too much here in terms of direct technique. If you're looking for a step-by-step breakdown on how to improve your flow, it may be worth going somewhere else as well. But there is some reference to lyrical tricks and tips, and even if you know them there is so much more discussed here, I’d still say it’s worth checking out.
How Much Does the Course Cost?
MasterClass subscriptions are $180 per year, or $15 a month, at the time of writing.
With this, you receive access to all the 100+ courses on MasterClass.
So, taking more classes means you get more for what you pay.
Finding 4-6 classes you like means you’re effectively paying $30-$45 per course. This makes a lot more sense price-wise already, let alone the fact that you're being taught by some of the biggest names on the planet!
MasterClass also offers a 30-day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
You can buy a course individually if it’s the only one that speaks to you. It’s a bit convoluted, but you can buy a single MasterClass as a gift, and essentially gift the course to yourself. The price here is $90.
However, with so much to choose from, I can’t imagine only one single course will spark your interest.
Alternatives To Nas’ MasterClass
MasterClass itself offers many alternatives to the Nas course. With music being such a go-to discipline for many to learn online, it seems obvious they’d capitalise on this with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Nas, at the moment, is the only MasterClass that focuses solely on rap, and certainly the one that goes into the most detail with musical storytelling. However, if you like the idea of learning your music from legends of Nas’ calibre, there’s a lot on offer here.
deadmau5’ MasterClass is one of the most recognizable, based on the YouTube views of the trailer alone. This class teaches you all about Joel Zinnerman's techniques for music production, as well as his insight into the music industry.
The clearest alternative to deadmau5 is the MasterClass led by Armin van Buuren. A longer course, this includes many of the topics and themes of deadmau5’s lessons, but with a bit more of a focus on DJing.
Although they may seem similar on paper, EDM fans will know that these two artists create very different styles of music, so there’s obviously a lot of divergence in what is taught.
Other musical MasterClasses include:
- Yo-Yo Ma teachers Music and Connection
- St Vincent Teaches Creativity and Songwriting
- Ringo Starr teaches drumming and collective collaboration
- Itzhak Perlman Teaches Violin
- Danny Elfman Teaches Music For Film
- Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz
- Tom Morello Teaches Electric Guitar
- Metallica teaches Being a Band
If MasterClass isn’t the site for you, don’t worry. You’re still spoilt for choice.
Rap is a genre that is dominating the music industry right now, seeping into other genres and styles and generally influencing the cultural zeitgeist.
More and more people want to learn how to rap now, and with the dawn of the internet, that opportunity is becoming an increasingly realisable one.
Platforms like Udemy and Skillshare are other giants in the e-learning game and offer production classes in abundance.
As I said, Nas’ course is great, but it doesn’t exactly tell you how to rap. If that is what you're looking for, specifically if you just don’t know where to get started, these sites may have the course for you.
Udemy’s How To Rap For Beginners is 2.5 hours of technical exercises as well as downloadable resources to help your rapping develop from scratch.
This course aims to help with freestyle, speed and flow.
How To Rap Like The Pro’s goes a little more in-depth with similar content. This course is on SkillShare and is led by Nathaniel Hamilton.
Is The Course Content Unique?
There isn’t much more of an answer required.
Can you find out most of this information about Nas by browsing Wikipedia? Of course. Do interviews with Nas give the same vibe as this class, and does he describe the same philosophy? Yes. Will other sites give you even more detail as to how to technically develop as a rapper? Most definitely.
But when I talk about content, I’m not just talking about one of these variables in isolation, I’m talking about the whole package.
There is nowhere else where you will get the same level of detail, insight and explanation about Nas’ career, approach and experience. This course is uniquely positioned as a MasterClass to help you develop and grow as an artist from hearing about these experiences.
I’d even go as far as to say this is one of the only courses to combine the historical trajectory of hip-hop; what it is, where it came from, why it exists, where it’s going, with one individual and his story.
Nas is a global superstar and a world-class performer, but he’s also a kid from Queens who just has a deep love of the genre and used it to tell his story. The message that “if I can do it, you can too” is hardly one that’s unique to this course. But the way this MasterClass pronounces this statement is unlike anything else.
Is The Nas MasterClass Worth It?
Now the question you’ve all been waiting for…
Is the Nas MasterClass worth it?
Generally, I would say it’s a resounding yes, but the answer will always depend on your expectations, how you learn and what you're looking for.
For example, this is a very short course. So if you're looking to buy it individually or give it to someone, as much as I love the course, I wouldn’t say it’s worth it. The cost of an individual course is a bit too high for the amount of content you’d receive in return.
But with so many options on MasterClass, you are bound to find something that interests you. This definitely changes things.
I’d also say that if you're looking for direct lessons on improving your rap game, this course won’t really give you that, at least compared to other courses out there. But I’d still say it's worth investing in.
This is because the MasterClass is a rare opportunity to look at one genre, where it started and where it’s going from the perspective of someone who learned from it, revolutionised it and came to define it.
It would be a difficult, perhaps even an impossible task to find a course that is at once so specifically connected to one person, yet teaches so much about a wider movement. The biggest take-away I got from this was how you can use rap, or any form of music, to tell your story. Through taking a close look at Nas' career and process, you’ll learn how to express yourself, which is a rare thing to be taught.
So, if you love rap, if you love Nas, if you don’t know about either of those things and want to learn more, if you have a story to tell, go and check this one out.
Frequently Asked Questions
A MasterClass all-access-pass costs $180 a year ($15 a month). This gives you access to 100+ courses, including Nas’ MasterClass
Nas’ MasterClass is 1 hour and 52 minutes long and consists of 12 video lessons.
No, Nas’ MasterClass is not free. However, there are multiple offers and refunds if you’re not happy.
Yes, MasterClass operates a 30-day refund policy if you purchase directly through them. If you purchase through other providers, their returns policy may apply. To ensure your refund policy is valid, visit MasterClass here.
You can buy the course by itself by using the MasterClass “gift” option. The course costs $90 as a stand-alone.
Charlie is a student reading politics at King’s College London. He is also a passionate musician with over 14 years of experience. In his free time, he also enjoys cinema, long-distance running and learning new things.