NEW YORK — Nas says you shouldn't believe anything you've heard about Def Jam putting the kibosh on his next studio album. In fact, he insists he hasn't come across any resistance from the label.
The name of the LP has changed slightly, though. He's going all the way there: It's now called Nigger, and it is set to hit stores December 11.
"I don't know where that [report] came from and neither does Def Jam," Nas said early Thursday morning (October 18) in a Manhattan recording studio when asked about a Fox News article published earlier this week. The story quoted a "source close to" label head L.A. Reid, who scoffed at the thought of the company supporting an album with such a title, and also claimed the album was not on the label's release schedule. "None of us knows where that came from."
(At press time, Def Jam representatives had not responded to MTV News' requests for comment.)
The MC said he's just two weeks from completing the LP and has done most of the work with his friend and constant collaborator, Salaam Remi. Diddy, Jermaine Dupri and DJ Toomp are also expected to get in the lab with Nas before he closes out production.
"Salaam — me and him have some real chemistry," Nas explained. "He can go from Amy Winehouse to Spragga Benz to come f--- with Nas. The other cats, some of us have somewhat of chemistry, some of us don't. ... [People] shouldn't trip off the [album's] title; the songs are crazier than the title."
Nigger has caused some strong reaction from civil-rights activists since news of the name hit the masses. The Fox News Web sitesite quoted the Rev. Jesse Jackson and representatives from the NAACP, who admonished Nas for using the N-word as his LP's name.
"I'm a street disciple," Nas responded, quoting one of his earlier album titles. "I'm talking to the streets. Stay out of our business. You ain't got no business worrying about what the word 'nigger' is or acting like you know what my album is about without talking to me. Whether you in the NAACP or you Jesse Jackson. I respect all of them ... I just want them to know: Never fall victim to Fox. Never fall victim to the sh-- they do. What they do is try to hurry up and get you on the phone and try to get you to talk about something you might not know about yet.
"If Cornel West was making an album called Nigger, they would know he's got something intellectual to say," Nas continued. "To think I'm gonna say something that's not intellectual is calling me a nigger, and to be called a nigger by Jesse Jackson and the NAACP is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary."
Nas said he hasn't talked to anyone outside his camp about the title, so he was upset to see that people are up in arms without knowing the story behind him choosing the name.
"I wanna make the word easy on mutha----as' ears," he explained. "You see how white boys ain't mad at 'cracker' 'cause it don't have the same [sting] as 'nigger'? I want 'nigger' to have less meaning [than] 'cracker.' With all the bullsh-- that's going on in the world, racism is at its peak. I wanna do the sh-- that's not being done. I wanna be the artist who ain't out. I wanna make the music I wanna hear.
"We're taking power [away] from the word," he added. "No disrespect to none of them who were part of the civil-rights movement, but some of my n---as in the streets don't know who [civil-rights activist] Medgar Evers was. I love Medgar Evers, but some of the n---as in the streets don't know Medgar Evers, they know who Nas is. And to my older people who don't now who Nas is and who don't know what a street disciple is, stay outta this mutha----in' conversation. We'll talk to you when we're ready. Right now, we're on a whole new movement. We're taking power [away] from that word."
Earlier this year, Nas told MTV News that he wanted to "have fun with the radio" while making his next LP. That was before he settled on the title, though. The album includes ideas and feelings he wanted to express for years that aren't exactly meant to make you dance or sing along in the club.
"Every time I get in the studio, I feel like I wanna have some fun," he said. "My fun is not doing the easy work. My fun is doing what's me. [Radio-friendly songs], that's easy work. My daughter could do that. My daughter could do the sh-- that's out. I wanna do me and hopefully some mutha----as would like it. At this point, I'm looking at the whole world differently. I'm looking at how politics could really be effective for people today, how me as an artist could be more effective. ... I listen to the radio sometime and I like the vibe of that. I go to a club, and my favorite sh-- is Soulja Boy ['Crank That']. I wanna get down with them joints, but ... [my records] do not come out like that."
On November 6, Nas releases his Greatest Hits LP, and he plans to put out Nigger's first single a day or two after that. Despite the absence of a strong marketing push for the upcoming album (you can partially explain that because he's been working on his own and under the radar), Nas isn't stressing. He said he can't wait for some big plans to sell the album. He just wants to get it out there.
"If you feel like doing a record," he started to say about the freedom he has in his career right now, "you can't wait till everybody is ready. I used to wait. Now I have that sh-- in me — where it is, what it is, buy it or don't buy it, it's cool. Whoever likes it, cool. Whoever don't like it, cool — but it's gotta come out now.
"Everybody is caught up on that first-week thing," he continued. "That was cool. In the beginning, you want n---as to know what time it is on the beginning of your sh--. I'm past that. I had humongous first weeks before, gold in the first week, that's not important with me. When you have a record that's out there, people are going to gravitate towards it at some point in time if they like that type of music. My albums will move units, but it ain't based on what type of units they move. I'm thankful I sell records, but it's not about that.
"This Nigger album is bigger than an album. This is for my daughter, when she looks back and sees all the chump n---as in the game, she'll say, 'My pops was a man.' When I have more kids, they'll see, 'He was a man.' That will inspire them to be real in their life. Some people say I'm conscious, some say I'm a gangsta rapper — it's just me doing me. I'm stomping in my own lane. I'm doing what I do."