Nas dropped out of school in eighth grade. He began selling drugs on the streets of New York while educating himself, reading about African culture and civilization, the Qur'an, the Bible and the Five Percent Nation.
In 1991, Nas participated in the creation of "Live at the Barbeque" with the group Main Source. He attracted attention for the blazing rhymes of his verse and was soon approached by MC Serch (of 3rd Bass). Nas made the song Halftime for Serch's Zebrahead soundtrack.
Nas was signed to Columbia Records. For two years, rumors flew about Nas' future as he worked on his debut album with such premier producers as Large Professor, Pete Rock and DJ Premier. In 1994, Illmatic was released. Illmatic was immediately hailed as a masterpiece, though it didn't achieve mass popular acclaim, and is still highly regarded as one of the definitive gangsta rap albums.
Nas' next three albums were It Was Written, I Am and Nastradamus. They were more pop-friendly, and Nas was ridiculed as a sell-out by many fans who did not like the new direction he was going in. "If I Ruled the World", "Hate Me Now" and '"Street Dreams" became national hits, however, and Nas won some popular acclaim.
Jay-Z rapped about Nas on "Takeover", claiming to have had sex with his girlfriend, and teasing Nas for not having put out a hot album since Illmatic. Not long later, Nas released Stillmatic in December of 2001, which opened with a song called "Ether", a potshot at Jay-Z featuring the chant "Fuck Jay-Z." Stillmatic reaffirmed Nas' mainstream position in the conciousness of rap fans nationwide.
In December of 2002 Nas released the critically acclaimed God's Son album. The lead single, "Made You Look" created enough street buzz to allow the album to debut at number 18 on Billboards top 100 albums list despite widespread internet bootlegging.
NAS can also refer to the New American Standard Bible, an English translation of the Bible.