On the eve of the April 9 opening of a Sweet Chick in his hometown, Long Island City, Nas recounts the origins of the dish his and partner John Seymour’s restaurant is famous for: chicken and waffles. “If Billie Holiday or Duke Ellington sang all night in Harlem, the whole city would drive into upper Manhattan and party ‘til the wee hours of the night and eventually, they’d get hungry,” he tells Food and Wine.
“Do they want breakfast; do they want dinner? It’s five, six in the morning and they’ve been partying all night, they think: let’s have both.’ The kitchen’s been going all night and they’ve been partying all night and somebody mixed their chicken with a waffle, and there you have it. That’s the whole thing.”
The hip hop-saturated chicken and waffle restaurants in New York and Los Angeles started by Seymour (the new location is the fifth) is the rapper and entrepreneur’s first foray into the food world. And while it may seem like his love of good fried chicken got the rapper to finally dip his toes into the restaurant world (he does have an entire track dedicated to the stuff), it was just as much about the restaurant’s musical soul.
“The first time I walked into Sweet Chick, they were playing original samples from some of the greatest hip hop songs ever made,” he says. “Samples that were just as hot as the rap record that they were later turned into. The vibe was just … it was for today’s guys.”