See Nas, Jack White Perform Breathless 1920s Version of 'One Mic'

Emcee delivers 'Stillmatic' single with antiquated recording technology for 'American Epic Sessions'

Nas and Jack White teamed up to record the emcee's "One Mic" single with recording technology from the 1920s.

Nas revisited his "One Mic" single with a scrappy unplugged trio, including Jack White on piano, for the recently aired PBS documentary The American Epic Sessions. 

Nas stood in front of the microphone with his hands clasped calmly behind his back as he delivered lines from "One Mic," a fierce, tongue-twisting ode to the power of rapping. The emcee barreled through triple-time verses before returning to the single's defiant comforting refrain: "All I need is one mic." White, seated behind Nas at the piano, played emphatic, ringing chords. The two stars were also accompanied by a stand-up bass player and a drummer.

"One Mic" appeared on Nas' 2001 Stillmatic album. The conceit of The American Epic Sessions is to tackle songs like this with recording technology from the 1920s – a single microphone (perhaps this played into the decision to take on "One Mic") along with a "recording device timed by a weight-driven system of clockwork gears" that presses the results of the session to vinyl as soon as it comes to a close. Jack White recruited stars from a variety of genres, including Willie Nelson, the Alabama Shakes and Elton John, to join him in the studio for this historically faithful exercise.

A two-disc set culled from these sessions – including Nas performing "On the Road Again" – came out last Friday.