Nearly 20 years after his debut album, Nas remains one of the most influential and gifted rappers in hip hop. With the release of the rapper’s 10th album Life is Good, Fuse’s Esteban Serrano asked him how he managed to rise above all the shots taken at him. The rapper gave a typically candid answer.

“First of all, I’m 1 million percent real,” says Nas in the video above. “That’s the only way I know how to be. If it’s a battle that’s going to turn out to be a great ending, then I’m all for that. But if it’s just battling for the sake of you want attention or certain kind of credibility, it ain’t nothing anyway. Everything I’m dealing with is based on reality. You could throw a shot at me but you don’t really want to go there. You don’t want to do that. If I’m not doing that to you and you’re coming at me for no reason, it’s an automatic loss.”

Asked about comparisons some of today’s rappers have garnered to him, Nas showed love. “It’s amazing that this generation today will even say that. People just have no respect for so many great artists that I love. I just thought it’s a matter of time when people are like ‘Nas who?’ So it still catches me off-guard. It’s a great honor.”

In the video below, Nas tells us what he would change about his classic debut Illmatic and the difference between Nas in 1994 and now. “Back then, I said ‘Life’s a Bitch,’” admits the rapper. “Now I say Life Is Good.”