You can add Nas to the growing list of MCs who have responded to controversial television and radio personality Bill O’Reilly.
During a recent airing of his Fox News show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” the commentator blasted Nas’ free concert for the students of Virginia Tech (see “Nas, John Mayer, Dave Matthews To Headline Free Concert At Virginia Tech” ) as an “abomination” and “atrocity.” O’Reilly referred to Nas — or “Nazz,” as the TV host pronounced it — as a “gangsta rapper” and said his lyrics are as “violent as they come,” citing songs such as “Shoot ’Em Up,” “One Mic,” Ether” and “Made U Look” as his musical history of violence. (The show also displayed some of Nas’ concert footage and videos, plus the scene where Jay-Z gets shot in the video for “99 Problems.”) O’Reilly called Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger “a villain” for allowing Nas to perform.
“Having a rapper who trades in violence perform at Virginia Tech insults the victims, the university and the entire commonwealth,” O’Reilly declared. The Nas controversy has been the topic of several of his shows.
Nas spoke exclusively to MTV News on Wednesday, dismissing his detractor.
“It’s what he’s supposed to do. He has an image to uphold,” Nas said initially, laughing it off.
But the conversation took a more serious turn when Nas described O’Reilly’s stance against him — and previous outbursts against peers such as Snoop Dogg and Ludacris (see “Ludacris Barks Back At Pepsi, O’Reilly; P-Roach Antics Not An Issue For Soda Giant” ) — as being prejudiced and outdated.
“He’s a racist,” Nas said. “Everybody has a marketing plan; his marketing plan is racism.
“He doesn’t understand the younger generation. He deals with the past,” Nas continued. “The people he represents are Republican, older, a generation that has nothing to do with the reality of what’s happening now with my generation. … He’s not really on my radar. People like him are supposed to be taught and people like me are supposed to let n—as like him know. I don’t take him serious. His sh– is all about getting ratings or whatever. I wouldn’t honor anything Bill O’Reilly has to say. It just shows you what bloodsuckers do: They abuse something like the Virginia Tech [tragedy] for show ratings. You can’t talk to a person like that.”
Nas maintained that some of his harsher lyrics are no more rigid than the reality that inspired them.
“Here’s somebody that speaks about America in his music, and the community that I come from has the same kind of violence as Virginia Tech,” the legendary rapper said about himself. “It’s unnecessary, stupid violence. Hip-hop is a part of the generation of [Virginia Tech] as well as alternative and pop and rock. Hip-hop is a part of that. That’s why I’m [performing at the concert]. With Bill O’Reilly, it doesn’t raise an eyebrow to me because it’s garbage, its bullsh–. He has nothing to do with the real people who go to school or the parents who had to endure that tragedy.”
The New York MC also opined that O’Reilly should be exploring the inspiration for music’s depictions of violence instead of making blanket statements about the content itself.
“Let him ask why I made the songs I made,” Nas said. “It didn’t come from nowhere. It came from this country. I’m not talking about Russia in my music. I’ve never been to Russia. I’m not talking about Africa, Switzerland, China. I’m talking about me being American and growing up in a crazy world and helping to reflect all different sides of life. I got songs also about totally different things — ’Black Girl Lost,’ you feel what I’m saying?”
Besides O’Reilly, seven families of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy have spoken out against Nas performing, and there was an editorial in the school newspaper saying it would be a poor choice for the rapper to perform some of his songs where he talks about guns.
University officials responded by saying the announcement of the concert has been getting overwhelmingly positive feedback and that the lineup would not be changed.
Despite the controversy, Nas says he was asked by the school to perform and there are many people who would be disappointed if he did not come.
“I’m still coming,” he reiterated. “Unfortunately, man, a lot of places in America have to deal with unnecessary violence. Somebody like me who knows it firsthand and could relate, … I had a best friend killed, plenty other friends killed. I been through it. I seen it. My music reflects reality. I think that’s what makes it important that I come through and show love to those people [at Virginia Tech]. They deserve it.”
“A Concert for Virginia Tech” takes place at the school Thursday (September 6). John Mayer, Phil Vassar and the Dave Mathews Band will also perform. A spokesperson for O’Reilly was unavailable for comment.