Monday, April 21, 2008

Nas Drops Racial Slurs

By Evan Rytlewski
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Perhaps he really is a free speech advocate, or more realistically he's just pushing-buttons to generate interest in his upcoming album the same way he did with his contentiously titled last one, Hip-Hop Is Dead. Either way, it looks like Nas is going through with his plans to release Ni**a. The first song leaked from that impending disc, "Be a Ni**a," drops the N-word as much as you'd expect—but, surprisingly, it also uses slurs for Jews, Hispanics, Italians and Chinese people as well.

Granted, Nas seems to be using these pejoratives in a "let's rob them of their hateful meaning and celebrate them as a badge of ethnic pride" sort of way, but it's bound to piss people off anyway. The N-word may have been co-opted and de-fanged by some sects of the hip-hop community, but there aren't many Jews, for instance, that have a similarly cozy relationship with their own slur, and it's doubtful the Jewish Anti Defamation League will be very understanding.

You can hear "Be a Ni**a" here. The track isn't too bad, but it's certainly not as deep or as thoughtful as Nas thinks it is—and certainly not enough for skeptics to cut him off the hook. Nas is playing with fire here, and it's going to take more than good intentions to shield him from the flames.

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