The N-word? Worrrd?
Nas has become a specialist at stirring the pot with album titles over the past couple of years, inciting debates from the ’hood to the most stuck-up suburbs. His latest LP moniker, Nigga, has gained a swell of notice since he officially announced the name onstage last week in New York.
Fox News reported Tuesday that a source close to Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid said: “There is no album release by Nas on the release schedule at this point. And they would be unlikely to release an album with that title. How would that look at Wal-Mart?”
Label representatives had not responded to MTV News’ requests for comment at press time, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson did weigh in.
“The title using the N-word is morally offensive and socially distasteful,” Jackson said in a statement to Fox News. “Nas has the right to degrade and denigrate in the name of free speech, but there is no honor in it.
“Radio and television stations have no obligation to play it, and self-respecting people have no obligation to buy it,” Jackson added. “I wish he would use his talents to lift up and inspire, not degrade, making mockery of racism.”
Long before the recent stir over Nas’ album title idea, the word “n—a” had come under fire during the recent call by Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others to abolish the word altogether. In September, Nas spoke to Mixtape Monday about his feelings on the word.
“Racism is ugly,” he said. “Our people are faced with a serious dilemma. What do we do? You got conservative, rich black folks that are above the word ’n—a.’ Rightfully so. Then you got the word n—a, which has the genius of the black mind and has been changed into a billion-dollar word through Richard Pryor, who should own it. Paul Mooney should own the word. N.W.A, Dr. Dre should own a piece of the word. ’N—a’ has changed into a billion-dollar franchise. It’s just a smack in the face to all the races that we’ve changed that into a positive. You’re gonna have brothers and sisters who are educated, who don’t need it. You also have a world who lives in it, who deals with it every day on levels that are unbearable.
“It’s not right for all of us who have made it to forget about everybody else in the struggle,” he added. “Everybody ain’t make it out to be billionaires or filthy rich. We have to bridge that gap back to not come down on each other, especially hip-hop. Don’t come down on hip-hop for it. But at the end of the day? Whatever, man. I ain’t got no time for it. ’N—a’ is a part of my vocabulary, as far as I know, for life. Amongst each other, we say it in jokes. It’s really a stupid conversation to even have at this point, on the stage we have it on. If [the people who are against the use of the word] really wanted to have a conversation about it, it could have been done better. We didn’t invent the word. We took the word and made it into something positive and we made money off it. God bless Richard Pryor.”
Although MTV News has not spoken to Nas on the record since word of the title broke, a source close to the rapper has said that the title is not just meant to cause controversy and sell records. It has a deeper meaning.
Nas says he wants to put the album out in December. On November 6, Nas’ first recording home, Sony Music, is releasing the rapper’s first best-of collection, Greatest Hits.