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We Need Nas.
We Need Nas.
We Need Nas.
There, I said it.
A lot of people want to forget about Nas now, act like he's fallen off. They - behind computers - sit and laugh about his marital issues. They still want to talk about Carmen from time time. He signed under Jay-Z when his former adversary was president of Def Jam, they type. They use terms like "Nas stay losing."
They love to tear him down for some reason.
They do this to others as well, but not quite in the same way as Nasir Jones.
But, we need Nas...you know, if you still love Hip-Hop. I'll admit, Nas isn't the "Jesus-snuffing-Illmatic-Stillmatic" dude that we once knew and revered. His body of work has been somewhat spotty. Frankly, his rocket ship didn't quite make it to Hip-Hop Heaven.
But, we need Nas.
I look at the landscape of O.G. rappers that are still doing it and doing it well. There's Jay-Z, Kanye West, there's Jadakiss, Scarface, Snoop Dogg and others that are still doing work. Lyrically, and I do mean purely lyrically, none of them seem to be as thought provoking and provocative as Nas. And that's not disrespect, because most of them have more flair, business acumen, style and personality than Nas puts on display.
What is dope, as well as frustrating, is his natural tendency to be private. He remains mysterious in an era that seems to abhor enigmas. I love the fact that I don't know what Nas' daughter looks like. Sure, I know Nas has a hefty support bill with Kelis, but I don't quite know if they get along. Nas isn't twittering about it. Hell, we don't even know if he was supposed to be on the original version of "Empire State of Mind" with Jay-Z.
I like that. I like not knowing too much. I like a rapper that pays attention to lyrics. I like a rapper that's not afraid to take a break. Not afraid to be an attention whore. Not afraid to take musical risks.
This leads me to the end of this column.
A few months ago, this collaboration with Damian Marley was the worst thing Nas could ever do, in my humble opinion. First off, I am not the biggest reggae fan, even though I used to do the bogle dance. Glad there was no Youtube back then. But, I have changed my mind on that. This album, titled Distant Relatives, is probably going to "save" Nas' career. After seeing the videos of his performing at SXSW, he's got a renewed energy. He's also got a new cause, a new message and even a team to help him pull this off. This album is more significant than his recent albums.
The main complaint I have with Hip-Hop is the lack of balance in the music. There is no hatred for The South or gangster rap or skinny jeans rappers or whatever else is popular right now. I like it all. And that's all the more reason why we NEED A NAS.
Now, there are other rappers - such as J. Cole, Pac Div, Pill, Juice, Jay Rock - that give hope for that balance we need on a larger scale. There's a lot of hope. But I also hope that we as a community will stop feeding into the desire to deconstruct Nas so much. Let dude be Nas, an amazing lyricist that happens to be the opposite of all that you complain about. Perhaps the hate is some form of displaced love. Maybe we failed to recognize Nas as a human from the onset of his career and really bestowed him with power he never had.
Nas can still make it to Heaven, but we're going to have to help him navigate the ship this time around.
Real talk. We need Nas.