Rapper Nas—Nasir Jones—announced during a recent concert at the Roseland Ballroom in New York that his new album would be named after the N-word. But his label, Island Def Jam, denies the claim, which has already elicited objections. “The title using the ‘N’ word is morally offensive and socially distasteful,” said the Reverend Jesse Jackson 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.”
What the commentators said
Here we go again, said the blog Say Anything. If you didn’t know who Nas was before, you do now—“thanks to the controversy he’s stirred up with this album title.” It’s ridiculous that “pretty much everyone is going to fall for it too.” There will be a “reaction to the title,” then people will “either boycott or protest the boycotters,” and Nas can just “sit back and rake in the dough.” But, honestly, is this more “offensive than songs about killing police officers or beating women”?
No, it's just plain “stupidity,” said Stanley Crouch in the New York Daily News. The antics of rappers like Nas and the violence associated with hip-hop have gone too far. The public should be “tired of these guys,” because “too much of American life is plagued by irresponsible actions at the top, whether in the world of politics or business, and all of the excuses for wrongdoing have worn thin.”
Sure, Nas is “throwing gasoline on the fire,” said Clayton Hein in the Times Record News' blog. But he’s also “one of the greatest rappers of all time,” and he has a “reason” for choosing that album title. His desire to take back the N-word for black people is “genuine.” And the discussion over whether or not rap lyrics are offensive is getting old. Should an artist expressing “true emotion” really be censored?