For the documentary series, American Epic, Nas continues to bridge the gap by connecting the rich history of jazz and blues with hip-hop. To further establish his point, the rap veteran performs a bluesy rendition of his powerful 2001 anthem, “One Mic.”

With Jack White on piano and fellow musicians on upright bass and drums, the performance sounds like it was recorded in the 1920s. Nas carefully recites his fiery rhymes as he yearns for a way to make a difference by only using one microphone. The Queens MC ends each couplet with “I need one mic / All I need is one mic.”

Nas's special performance is part of the anthology program, American Epic, which is currently airing on BBC Music. The three-part series focuses on the origins of music and sound recording. For Nas’ episode, he salutes the Memphis jug bands of the 1920s during the Jim Crow Era. The legendary rapper describes the bluesmen of yesteryear as street reporters much like today's rappers who detail the street violence and poverty in their own neighborhoods.

“They were rapping about street life and gangster life and hustling, just a dark side of the world,” he says of the jug band frontmen. “It just goes to show me that rapping is a natural, poetic thing that’s always been here. As long as there was English and black people, there was rap.”

Check out Nas's bluesy performance of "One Mic" above. If you want to hear the original version, check out his music video below.

Watch Nas' "One Mic" Video

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