Last night, it appeared that Nas attempted to memorialize and resuscitate Hip-Hop at the same time with the likes of Jay-Z, actor Tracy Morgan, Spike Lee, Chamillionaire, Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule and numerous others that packed Manhattan's club Capitale.
The Queenbridge-born rapper hosted an exclusive dinner affair and black tie party to celebrate the release of his new album Hip Hop Is Dead.
With a strictly enforced black and white dress code, party goers were
treated to a makeshift funeral home setting at Capitale, a former bank converted into a club.
In the night's theme, a hearse was parked outside the revamped bank, as stars posed on the black carpet. As revelers walked in, they walked over the image of "Hip-Hop" outlined in chalk on the carpet. Caskets lined the inside of the area, wreaths adorned the stage and even faux crows loomed above the crowd. DJ Goldfinger manned the turntables with a live organist, violinist and drummer playing along with the records.
After making an entrance shortly after midnight, Nas addressed the crowd briefly and ad-libbed through a few of his classics before Hip-Hop legends Dana Dane, Greg Nice, Just-Ice, Grandmaster Caz, Melle Mel, Raheem, Monie Love, Joe Ski Love and others moved the crowd through performance.
Def Jam president Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Spike Lee, Chris Webber, Mark
Wahlberg, Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz and others attended the party.
Many continued to debate over whether or not Hip-Hop has truly met its demise.
"I would say Hip-Hop is dead, but it is quickly coming back to life," Melle Mel told AllHipHop.com. "As long as there are people that understand the true meaning of Hip-Hop and are willing to fight for it the way we fought for it, then we are making the right steps to bring it back."
Rapper Chamillionaire noted that the release of Nas' album is one reason
why Hip-Hop is not dead.
"The actual culture might be hurting but the music is alive," Chamillionaire noted.
Others concurred that the notion that the culture has expired is greatly exaggerated.
Teddy Ted of the Awesome Two said, "Well I think Hip-Hop needs a resurrection right now, I don't know if it's completely dead. It might be in a coma though. We need to hear a couple of things that we are not hearing right now to really bring it back."
Earlier in the evening Nas and his closest family and friends, convened to celebrate with an exclusive dinner.
The event was held at Gin Lane in Manhattan and was graced by the likes of singer Mikki Howard, father Olu Dara, younger brother Kiane Dara, daughter Destiny, celebrity photogtapher Johnny Nunez, Marc Ecko, Stephen Hill and video host Rocsi of BET, DMX's wife Tashara Simmons, D-Nice, and others like professional basketball player and producer Chris Webber.
Both Olu and Kiane Dara admitted that they were waiting for day of release to hear Hip-Hop Is Dead, and had only heard the album's lead single thus far.
Just prior to dinner, Nas entered the dinner room draped in a black and red tuxedo surrounded by video cameras and photographers. The rapper eventually took his seat at the head of the table with wife Kelis, and the couple chatted with attendees through the evening. Party sponsor Hennessy Paradis even bestowed Nas with an exclusive bottle of their sprits in honor of his overall achievements in music.
With Hip-Hop Is Dead, hitting the shelves today, Nas could perhaps received another distinction, but spurning more people to take care of the culture.
Film maker Spike Lee told AllHipHop.com, "Hip-Hop is still alive through people like us."
Before all of the upscale extravagance, Nas performed for rabid fans at Webster Hall, a popular venue in New York.
Hip-Hop Is Dead hit stores today.