Nas presents.. Black President

nasThroughout Nas’ illustrious career as a Hip-Hop artist, his message could be described as conflicted. Over the years we’ve seen a side of Nas that is misogynist, pugilistic and violent but we’ve also seen a side of Nas that is conscious, spiritual and even sensitive. But one thing any Hip-Hop enthusiast can say about Nas, throughout his entire career – is that he’s been groundbreaking. From his Illmatic debut, to his historic battle with Jay-Z, to his most recent album entitled “Hip-Hop is Dead” – Nas has consistently been on the front lines as one of the most innovative, provocative and imaginative emcees who has ever lived. In 2008, he continues to carry the torch with a new release – a song called Black President. You can listen to it here. Here are a few excerpts:

Verse 1:
a president is needed,
you know these colored folks and Negros,
hate to see one of they own succeed’n,
America surprised us and let a black man guide us…

Verse 2:
on a positive side, i think Obama provides hope,
And challenges minds or all races and colors,
To erase hate, and try to love one another, so many political snakes,
We in need of a break, I’m thinking I can trust this brother,
But will he keep it way real,
every innocent nigga in jail get shot up in the field?
When he wins will he really care still?

Verse 3:
We aint falling for the same traps,
standing on the balconies
where they shot the king at,
McCain got apologies, ain’t nobody hearing that,
People need honesty!

So what do yall think? Is Nas on the money or is this just a publicity stunt for his new “untitled” album (previously entitled Nigger).

5 Comments to ‘Nas presents.. Black President’:

  1. fred on 11 Jun 2008 at 3:44 pm: 1

    I vote for publicity stunt, but really like the line “so many political snakes”. Still, this is not as obvious a stunt as Spike Lee starting a “fight” with Clint Eastwood over the number of blacks in Eastwood’s Io Jima movies. Spike got press coverage in thousands of media outlets about his new film about black soldiers in Italy for free.

  2. kameelah on 11 Jun 2008 at 6:41 pm: 2

    i don’t know how i feel about all of this.

    i’ve listened to it about 8 times. i honestly, don’t feel moved by any of it. then again, the only music that has ever moved me is gil scot-heron. between the tupac samples and the obama soundbites, i got a lot of same ole–change, change, change, struggle, struggle, etc. what is different about this song other than the obama reference? it’s kinda like the black eyed peas song that came out right after 9/11–‘where’s the love?’ a lot of words but when you strip it off all the special effects, the underlying beat, the mixing, tupac samples, the melodic singing, etc. what it looks like is all ive heard before.

    it is well put together–i can listen to it, but that’s all i can do…just listen, not feel it.

    maybe, i am expecting WAAY to much for a 4 minute song.

    truth–most movements are carried by or have some element of art, but i wonder what that means in relation to political candidates. i think that any art that is aligned with a political movement, with anything for that matter needs to provide space for nuance in so that it does not a) look like a publicity stunt or b) overzealous ramblings of an entertainer? is this just spectacle?

    what does it mean when nas makes a song like this against the backdrop of previous work? what does it mean that ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ are over-used terms that are oft-commodified to the extreme that dropping a few words like ‘change’ can sell millions of records irrespective of said entertainers beliefs, actions, words etc?

    and what CHANGE are we talking about?

    and he has this song…what is he going to do about it? i remember the similar phenomenon around kanye when he said ‘george bush doesnt like black people.’ this too was a publicity stunt (In my opinion). this is the entertainment industry, not a political activist collective. there is only so far any song or artist can go before they are dropped out of mainstream and ignored…so while this song does nothing for my spirit, maybe others are content with it.

  3. kameelah on 11 Jun 2008 at 6:42 pm: 3

    i don’t know how i feel about all of this.

    i’ve listened to it about 8 times. i honestly, don’t feel moved by any of it. then again, the only music that has ever moved me is gil scot-heron. between the tupac samples and the obama soundbites, i got a lot of same ole–change, change, change, struggle, struggle, etc. what is different about this song other than the obama reference? it’s kinda like the black eyed peas song that came out right after 9/11–‘where’s the love?’ a lot of words but when you strip it off all the special effects, the underlying beat, the mixing, tupac samples, the melodic singing, etc. what it looks like is all ive heard before.

    it is well put together–i can listen to it, but that’s all i can do…just listen, not feel it.

    maybe, i am expecting WAAY to much for a 4 minute song.

    truth–most movements are carried by or have some element of art, but i wonder what that means in relation to political candidates. i think that any art that is aligned with a political movement, with anything for that matter needs to provide space for nuance in so that it does not a) look like a publicity stunt or b) overzealous ramblings of an entertainer? is this just spectacle?

    what does it mean when nas makes a song like this against the backdrop of previous work? what does it mean that ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ are over-used terms that are oft-commodified to the extreme that dropping a few words like ‘change’ can sell millions of records irrespective of said entertainers beliefs, actions, words etc?

    and what CHANGE are we talking about?

    and he has this song…what is he going to do about it? i remember the similar phenomenon around kanye when he said ‘george bush doesnt like black people.’ this too was a publicity stunt (In my opinion). this is the entertainment industry, not a political activist collective. there is only so far any song or artist can go before they are dropped out of mainstream and ignored…so while this song does nothing for my spirit, maybe others are content with it.

  4. Pierce on 12 Jun 2008 at 7:29 pm: 4

    Kameelah, I can see how it could be hard for someone to take this song seriously when you consider some of his previous anti “change/progress” work. However, Nas has long been a political commentator. His joints, “These Are Our Heroes”, “I Gave You Power” “Black Girl Lost” and “World Peace” as well as the more explicitly politically charged verses from “Why” Remix, “I Can” and “I want to talk to you”.. Don’t get me wrong he’s no Immortal Technique or Dead Prez, but I think Nas has been an emcee of exemplary consciousness.

  5. kameelah on 13 Jun 2008 at 7:25 pm: 5

    Agreed. I guess the questions would still be::

    a) what is our litmus test for determining “exemplary consciousness”?
    b) is someone of “exemplary consciousness” allowed to have music that perpetuates (fill in the blank–negative adj) and still be considered conscious?

    a moment of truth: i guess i am a bit exhausted with the use of the term “conscious.” i find it ambiguous and loaded. is consciousness just about what we say or what we do? is consciousness a commodity we can buy and barter later?

    i think music has transformative power, however, i am just not convinced that a song or songs make someone of ‘exemplary consciousness.’ granted he is an emcee and that is where most of his political thinking would be articulated (versus if he were a grassroots activists where he work would directed elsewhere), but i’d like to see more coherency between words and action and between words and previous words. we can talk and talk, but what does that mean? words are necessary but they need action to be birthed into something transformative. i dont know enough about his work outside of music to pass conclusive judgment on his “exemplary consciousness,” but i will say with some level of certainty that being able to maintain a privileged position in the mainstream in many ways militates against the identification of “consciousness.” this consciousness is a palatable consciousness–this is not to say you can sell well and be liked by forward-thinking folks; rather, i am saying that along with being able to have mainstream appeal is a sacrifice.

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Published on June 11, 2008 at 1:02 am. 5 Comments.
Filed under music,news/politics.