New York magazine has a decent interview with the little homey NaS promoting his new untitled album, due out in a couple of weeks.
Even New York magazine knows about NaS's predilection for choosing beats:
He has made his reputation not on hook-laden pop-rap and club bangers, but
on hip-hop that sounds best in headphones, in which it’s possible to keep up
with the flow of his detailed, controlled verses. He consciously chooses beats
that are light on hooks, he says, so as not to distract from the lyrics. It’s a
move that has brought him criticism -- the weak-beats gripe -- but while his beat
selection has kept him from the top of the pop charts, it has also protected him
from its whims. The rapper has enjoyed an unusually long career.
Check out the interview here.