Nigger….that’s right I said it
The album formerly known as Nigger.
I’m really excited about Nas’ new album. This is an important feeling because I’m generally dissatisfied with the state of music, especially hip hop. Very little of it excites me. So many hip hop artists get hype and then wack musically, personally, or both. What drew me into hip hop was the feeling it produced. I love music connecting me to my people’s history, the struggles and the accomplishments, the wisdom and the reaffirmation that real change is a byproduct of our own self-awareness, self-empowerment, and solidarity. Today, that message is overshadowed by the illusion that the most important things in life are things. There’s an air of complacency, a disrespect to the struggles of our past and present.
On his last album, Nas shared the thought that hip hop is dead. This time, his effort is directed at starting a very necessary dialogue that everyone keeps trying to sweep under the rug. If you listen to his new album, you can’t ignore the elephant in the room: race.
Originally titled Nigger, retailers threw a hissy fit about placing the album in their stores. Oh, is this because they care? Or because they can’t face the reality that their past is the present?
“How will we look if we sale an album called ‘Nigger’?”
You’ll look like you may be ready to be honest. But alas, fiction incessantly proves its power over reality.
Having to rename the album only gave Nas the opportunity to cause more impact, as he decided to call the album nothing and place an image of his back, scarred by a whip in the shape of the letter “N”. The iconic shape of the letter indicates Nas as the artist, but it also recalls the album’s original title, Nigger. The image he uses is more effective than the word.
The album doesn’t drop until July 15th, but to hold you over in the meantime is The Nigger Tape, the mixtape he did with DJ Green Lantern. Since it’s not available for retail, he can call it whatever he wants to.