Days after rapper Nas changed the name of his forthcoming album, the Rev. Al Sharpton is applauding the move as he credits efforts from the National Action Networks Decency Initiative for playing a role in motivating the New York emcee's change of heart.
Nas confirmed his decision to abandon the album's original title, N***er, on Monday (May 19).
"Clearly, putting their focus and pressure on the companies and not engaging in a fruitless pursuit of chasing a never ending and ever changing roster of artists has proven to be smart," Rev. Sharpton said in a statement. "The record companies and retailers have the power as this Nas matter shows. Had not the [NAN's] Decency Initiative and other groups put the pressure on, this change of title on Nas' album would never had been a corporate concern."
Prior to it's removal, N***er drew mixed reactions among music fans as well as celebrities, leaders and retailers, who were hesitant about having the album in stock on store shelves.
Rather than name the album Nas, after himself, the rapper will keep the project untitled.
For Tamika Mallory, who spear headed the effort, the name change is part of a bigger issue that must be addressed in order to effectively turn things around in the music business.
"No other community is subjected to denigration as a form of entertainment," Mallory said. "A record company would never release an album titled the "f [ag]" word to describe the gay community or the "k[ike]" word to describe the Jewish community as they should not," the activist said. "We are fighting to make sure the rules apply for women and African Americans as well."
The Nas album title controversy isnt the first time the Decency Initiative and Sharpton have crossed paths with the music industry.
On May 3, 2007 they joined forces with the children of soul icon James Brown to lead a march on various record labels, including Universal, Sony and Warner Music, in New York City.
The purpose of the event, which was held the same day as Browns birthday, was to raise awareness of what the Initiative believes to be a double standard in the music and entertainment industry as well as demand that companies protect the civil and human rights of all people.