NEW YORK NEW YORK--NOVEMBER 10: Rapper Nas taken on November 10, 1994 in New York City

Original Nas Demo Tape Featuring Biz Markie and AZ Unearthed

Original Nas Demo Tape Featuring Biz Markie and AZ Unearthed

Published Tue, March 28, 2023 at 3:54 PM EDT

Ex-Columbia and Def Jam A&R representative Faith Newman shared an unearthed Nas demo labeled "Understanding" to her social media on Monday (3/27).

The caption read, "Went through a box of cassettes from my Columbia Records days and found this demo. Nas “Understanding” featuring Biz Markie and AZ. Produced by Large Professor. 1995."

The video contained a boombox connected to a speaker with a TDK tape labeled "Understanding" inserted into the portable tape player. The Large Professor-produced track, a simple loop of "Mr. Magic" by Grover Washington Jr. provided the backdrop for Biz and AZ to drop spoken intro's before Nas attacks the three-and-a-half-minute beat.

Nas spits his signature multi-syllabic flow: "Cruisin' in this Chrysler/pursuin' ni**as in my cipher/start wylin' like insane asylum on Rikers Island/verbal assassin, I murder freestylin'/one two for the gun crew/three drinkin' Cristalin'.

There were no details given on whether the song would ever see a release, or if there were any other songs contained in the box of cassettes.

Faith Newman started at Def Jam Records in the mid-80s, hired by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin to establish a publishing company. She became an A&R rep and by the fall of 1991, she was at Columbia Records where signed Nas, originally known as Nasty Nas. Faith told NPR that she first heard Nas on the 1991 posse cut "Live At The Barbecue" from main Source's Breakin Atoms.

"I had been looking for him, and I asked Large Professor to introduce me," she explained. "He said that Nas was kind of young and [I should] talk to Akinyele. I was like 'I like Ak but it's this kid.'"

She then shared that MC Serch had Nas' demo which contained an alternate version of Illmatic's first single, "It Ain't Hard To Tell" and "Just Another Day In The Projects."

"Basically, you know, I lost it and I went down the hall to my boss, the head of the A&R department, David Kahne. "'Look,'" I said, 'You don't ever have to let me sign anything else while I'm here, but you've gotta let me sign this kid.' He was like, 'OK. Alright.' And that's how it happened."

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