Years after his storied feud with Jay Z, Nas says he looks at their beef through a different lens, one that is proud of the fact that nobody died in the heated rivalry that was highlighted on Esco’s vicious “Ether” and Jigga’s scathing “Takeover,” among other tracks.

“At the end of the day, the mission was to glue the game back: no more deaths,” Nas said during a recent interview with GQ. “At this point, it’s about moving on and making something out of it. Because Biggie and Pac never lived to see that…They were the sacrifices, the martyrs for the entire hip-hop business.”

The interview ranges in topics from his storied feud with Jay to more pertinent and current events, leading Nas to discuss his work as an activist and his disappointment with how the government handled the death of Eric Garner who was killed by a police officer who used an illegal chokehold in 2014.

It’s embarrassing to New York, and it’s embarrassing to the country. I’ve got to go around the world, and people will ask me, ‘What’s wrong with America?’ This is why they don’t like us. And this is why they’re going to beat us. When they see that weakness, they’re seeing a way to take us down. The outside world, they’ve already seen that. But even more now with the apartheidisms that’s going on today. We can sweep it under the rug, but when we sweep it under the rug, the rest of the world smells the debris.

Nas celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Illmatic last year and says he’s contemplated retirement from time to time. He’s now running Mass Appeal Records, a label that is working with Fashawn and Run The Jewels, among others.

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