Below is my official response to many 'questions' or rebuttals emailed to me. As of now, I've received over 800 emails of varying thoughts and opinions on my article. I appreciate all of them regardless of their content. The public debate has begun and that's most important.
In order to respond to ALL of you who've taken time out of your day to both read and respond to me, it's easier to offer you this message first. I ask that you read it in its entirety and then let's discuss the issue if you so choose further afterwards. This is about furthering the discussion, not answering the same questions repeatedly with no progress.
These are my general responses and hopefully will give you better insight into where I am coming from.
1. Have you spoken to Nas since the story broke?
No. No one from Nas' camp or the rapper himself has reached out to extend the conversation or offer an opinion in response of the article. I am aware that some radio stations are discussing the issue (the record and the article) in the days since.
2. Why do you feel that some people have a negative reaction to your views? Some people reffered to you as the new Bill O'Reilly.
I've heard the 'Bill O'Reilly' comment on a number of occasions. Actually it's more flattering than anything. I don't admire anything that O'Reilly has to say, but you can't question his journalism. He asks tough questions and you know where he stands. It's not about agreeing, it's about discourse. Of course he has an 'agenda' along Republican Party lines, (I'm a staunch Democrat) but know that for what it is and make your own assessment outside of that. You can respect someone for what they have to say and not buy into it. The problem is, often times people speak without researching their topic or supporting information. They respond emotionally and not with measured reason.
Far too often, people in Hip-Hop argue with their heart and not their head. Not unlike when Kobe was accused, Kobe fans came out of everywhere proclaiming his innocence when in truth they had zero knowledge of Kobe the man or the case against him. Now...1.5 years later, the public perception has changed considerably (as a whole) about Kobe, even though Kobe himself hasn't changed. Why...they're better informed.
The same will go on when you challenge a Hip-Hop idol on any level, regardless of whether the truth is on the idol's side. It's been less about the validity of my argument and more about the preposterousness of debunking Nas. It's not an emotional issue, it's a logic issue...one in which the truth, facts and history are not on Nas' side. Regardless of how talented and brilliant on occasion Nas may be, on this issue, he's incorrect for the many reasons I've listed.
How people compare that to Bill O'Reilly singling out Ludacris I'm not exactly sure...other than the obvious, one man daring to speak out against a Hip-Hop idol. I personally can't stand Bill O'Reilly, but that's separate and distinct from acknowledging what he does as a journalist. I'm also smart enough to know that regardless of what he or any other journalist says, you have to research history and truth for yourself and not take 'entertainers' (as O'Reilly is also one) at their word. This same type of debate I have with Nas supporters on this issue I have with Bill O'Reilly supporters. It's not about an 'agenda' it's about facts, truth and history. Bill O'Reilly himself is a major hypocrite too. I play no favorites. If you are aware of my body of work then this is evident.
But I can say that I can wax and wane on both sides of issues because I've taken the time to inform myself. If the primary source of information for yourself in this debate is Nas or another rapper and not a history book or reputable news source...you're proving my point immeasurably.
3. Why was Nas singled out for the track?
Nas was speaking on issues that in my opinion he was ill-prepared to address. We don't go to doctors who've not studied their subject considerably, we don't buy houses (hopefully) without first checking the foundation in which they were built. The messenger is just as important as the message in this case.
For example, the issue of family values is relevant. But to be 'lectured' to by Michael Jackson, R. Kelly or even Scott Peterson on the importance of family values would be a bit much to bear. The fact is that if you as an individual are in effect contributing to the problem on any level, you need to understand that your opinion on that problem is suspect if you're not including yourself in the naming the problem.
I say that to say, of COURSE it matters that Black men may be choosing other women in a higher percentage these days. Of COURSE it matters that Tiger Woods may not claim his heritage like WE (including me) would like. But to say that Tiger Woods is MORE of a problem to our community or 'less of a hero' than people who debase and demean our
women is just simply wrong on too many levels. That, and I have a problem with being lectured on issues that a person hasn't done his/her homework and hasn't thought the problem completely through. His opinion wasn't well informed. You can't devalue education personally and try to 'educate' the masses globally. The clearest example of why was in his inaccuracy of portraying history.
4.What is your definition of a sell-out?
My definition would be, a person who does overt harm to his race and disregards the overwhelming repercussions in a premeditated way. For example, Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis may consider himself Black, only date Black women and the like...
But the fact that he was arrested and convicted for the distribution of narcotics would make him more of a 'sell-out' than anybody named Tiger Woods or Taye Diggs. Let's be honest, who has done the greater disservice to his people? Not only that, the Tiger Woods Foundation does more work in the inner city communities than virtually most in the Hip-Hop community, with the exception of some of the moguls and various individuals. Our priorities are out of kilter. The people who are calling others 'sell-outs' usually are the ones who aren't actively working in their communities for the better. I'll put my resume up against Nas' any day of the week. Anybody who knows me can second that motion. My words are not empty.
Thank you to Allhiphop.com for helping to start the public discussion. Only through intelligent discourse can we all progress. There's nothing wrong with having opinions as long as we're willing to come to the table and advance for the greater good. But if just because 'Nas said it' means that no discussion is acceptable....we are truly damned...because as I said: The truth, history and facts just aren't on his side on this issue.
5. Were you putting words in Nas' mouth when you referred to Richard Pryor and Flip Wilson...even though he didn't specifically by name?
I don't think so. He mentioned 'The Redd Foxxes'...plural. I don't know how else you can interpret it. You have to look at the era in which Isabel Sanford and Redd Foxx were in prominence...the 70's. You have to look at who else was in that era and how related they are to
this debate. Redd Foxx had 4 Emmy nominations for "Sanford & Son" (never won) but also endured considerable criticism (like Wilson and Isabel Sanford) for his show and supposed "cooning."
[Sanford & Son] seemed to be a black answer to "All in the Family." "All in the Family," was based on a British sitcom "Till Death Do Us Part," was about an irascible bigot. "Sanford and Son" was based on "Steptoe and Son," about an irascible old junk dealer with unchanging
attitudes. At first there was a lot of social and racial humor. Foxx delivered reverse-racist zingers: "White woman? Don't mess around with them, boy." "Pop, this woman was about 90 years old." "Ain't nothin' uglier on earth than a 90 year old white woman."
Eventually the show became more of a character comedy, with Foxx as a lovable curmudgeon. Redd's old stand-up pals like Slappy White and LaWanda Page were added, making for a lively cast. The first sitcom since "Amos and Andy" to present, with good humor, realistic, earthy black characters, it was soon the target of criticism. Some blacks complained the series focused on "low class" slum blacks and that Foxx's rascally, cantankerous junkman character was a poor role model.
An editorial by Don Carle Gillette in Variety, in January 1976, complained that Foxx's show "is no more complimentary to the blacks than the burnt-cork 'Amos 'n' Andy...' Contending that blacks will accept caricatures of blacks from their own race, but not from whites, seems a rather flimsy explanation..."
Know thy history...
Esther Rolle was about as real as they come, but she also won an Emmy
(not for Good Times). In fact, she left Good Times because of the
imagery it was portraying in her estimation. She is another person
that is of that era and 'Real' to me...AND won an Emmy. This issue is
not as simple as Nas would like to make it. Emmys or lack thereof did
not indicate 'realness.' The knife cut both ways back then.
Know thy history...
I've received somewhere close to 800 emails and I think I've responded to just about all of them. I never duck anyone. This is very close to my heart. This is my battle.
It's about responsibility...or in this case, irresponsibility. You can't say you are man if you are not accountable. You can not have an opinion of merit if you are not accountable. You can not call yourself a man who loves his people if you are not accountable for your actions which directly affect your people. You are no better than the sum total of your contributions to your people. If you are a man trying to uplift your people, then it is incumbent upon you not to also be doing anything to pull your people down. NOT ANYTHING. One song out of 12 on an album that is positive is not demonstrative of being a 'Conscious MC' to relate it to this discussion.
You're not a Muslim if you're only in line with Muslim doctrine 10% of the time. You're not a teacher if you're not knowledgeable about the subjects in which you try to lead the others in educating. You're not a revolutionary if your only 'revolutionary' contribution is 1/10th of your total societal contribution. You are who you ARE, not who you try to be 'on occasion.'
But the inherent understanding is that EVERYTHING is relevant. Nas can't throw rocks from the other side of the street and not think someone isn't going to throw one back...especially when they've been aimed in the wrong direction.
Lyrical skill will never take the place of truth, history and facts. None of which happen to be on his side in this debate. A microphone and a 48-track studio do not in any way validate a point. In this instance it only served to expose the flaws in his.
He is more than welcome to reach out to me. If 800 people have and were able to so far, I'm guessing he is able to as well if he so chooses. If you're curious to know more about Morris O'Kelly and other works he's written, feel free to view his online portfolio of other published work.