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Nas Hunts for Sly Fox on New CD

Final Call , Interview//Video, Ashahed M. Muhammad Posted: Aug 10, 2008

(FinalCall.com) - Though a young man (age 34) Nas has a long list of accomplishments. He is considered by most to be a legendary Hip Hop lyricist. Many of his lyrical appearances are considered some of the most memorable moments in Hip Hop and many of his albums are considered Hip Hop classics. Nas recently released his 9th album which debuted at No.1 on the charts. The Final Calls Assistant Editor Ashahed M. Muhammad went One-on-One with the multi-platinum selling artist after his performance at the Rock the Bells Festival tour stop in Chicago.

The Final Call (FC) Lets start with the song from your latest CD targeting Fox News called Sly Fox. What prompted you to make that song?

Video: Nas -- Sly Fox

NAS: I kept hearing terrible things about FOX News. I never trust media outlets, so FOX Newswhen I heard bad things about themI expected it to be real. But they didnt really get on my radar until last year when I was supposed to do a concert for Virginia Tech University. Bill OReilly had three shows on mehes trying to do what he did to Ludacris and take away Ludacris Pepsi deal. So he had three shows on it. And, I said, All right. Im going to get him back, you know? Ive got something to say too. Ive got listeners the same way you got listenersexcept my listeners are more of a threat in todays world. His listeners represent the Old Word, the old Republican, the old way of thinking about America. That is played out. And he doesnt even know that most Whites dont even think the way he thinks. But he has his ratings, right?

FC: Right.

NAS: So, I just said this is my way at getting back at him, [by] doing a song. It just so happens that the same time my album dropped, FOX News tries to be playful with Obamas Baby Mama and all this. If I didnt know who FOX was before, I really know who they are now and hopefully, some of my listeners can feel me.

FC: You have a voice, you have fans, you have people who listen to you and theyre influenced by what you say and you are using that to bring light to issues that you feel are important. Thats good, but some of rappers say, Well, my music doesnt have a message. I dont necessarily have a social commentary. Im not trying to tell anybody to do anything, you do what you want to do, Why do you think it is important to use your voice in that way?

Video: Nas -- Be a Ni--er Too

NAS: Hmm. Well, the ones that say they dont have a message and all that, theyre gangsters, man. Let them be gangsters. Let them do them. I support them. Not everybody wants to have that responsibility. Not everyone is thinking like that. A lot of peoples lives are simple, you know what Im saying? I tend to see things and Ive always questioned things since I was young. I question things. And when I see things that are unjust, I react. I may be a little bit more extreme than a few of the other artists, thats just me, its who I am. So all my music has something about me. Im not a specialist on race matters. I just have an opinion, I just have an experience to talk about. So, if one album is about one thing, then thats what Im thinking about that year, and thats what Im thinking about musically. It may not be the best chart-topping album, but, as long as I can sleep at night knowing thats what I really wanted to represent, cool. Then Im good.

Ive been sprinkling little pieces of my opinions on all my albums, but this one was just more dedicated to it. God has been good to me just allowing me to be here. I know a lot of people that couldnt make it here. So today what I want to talk about is how I see things. Im not coming down on a lot of people this year. That was Hip Hop Is Dead.

FC: Now, of course, the song thats being talked about, the song Louis Farrakhan. Take us into your thinking when you laid down the lyrics to that.

NAS: Louis Farrakhan has made me cry. You know, what do you say about that, you know what Im saying? When you see a man who put his life on the line for somethingbe he right or wrongyou admire him. But to me, Farrakhan is all the way right! Im not sitting here going line for line, detail for detail, everything he says and all of that. Its a whole body of work that hes laidhes laid his life down for his people. No matter if you like it or not. Anybody like that I admire. And, you know, anybody in this position, they would kill off. He was smart enough to say I have an army who believe in what Im saying, that this is the Truth. That I would die for everyone, every soldier in that army. They believe that and they know thats true. So, you know, how could I not acknowledge thats that; thats what I acknowledge in my life, then, its going to bleed into the music. Its not even on purpose. It just happened. Its just my thoughts. Some revolutionaries get old, although Im told... you know?

Its like everybodys scared to speak out about whats in their heart, just because theyre scared of who is going to come down on them. Theyre scared theyre going to get blacklisted. Theyre going to get all their endorsements taken away from them. Theyre scared that they cant feed their families. I understand that, but I admire those people who know that, and still go and do what they have to do, you know what I mean? If I had enough money, Id buy him a Rolls Royce tomorrow! You know what Im saying? Like, thats just how I feel about him!

He is a serious piece of history, you know, coming from Elijah Muhammad; coming from Malcolm X, coming fromthat part of history is so special because its what America is scared to talk about. Theyre scared to talk about that. And, if they would talk about it, it would help a lot of people. I know a lot of White cats that listen to Farrakhan! I went to a Coldplay concert, and his introduction was Farrakhans speech! So, I was blown away! Im sitting next to Gwyneth Paltrowwere rocking to a Farrakhan speech! So, it made me go: Damn! If hewhy didnt I use that in my music? Ive been wanting to! So Im just trying to show the love back now.

FC: You sound like you have a little bit more control over the content of what goes into your songs. Ive talked to a lot of different hip hop artists who say, Well, the label made me make this song or, I wanted to make a song like this and they wouldnt let me. Did you feel any pressure? Do you have a little more control because of your longevity and your success in the business?

NAS: Yeah, yeah I did. But, because I was that guy from the beginning, people can respect that Im that same guy now. When I played this song, a few people were scared. When I played my album, a few people around me were scared. None of my familytheyre riders, they know who I am, you know? But, a few friends were scared for me, and just scared in general. I had to let them know theres nothing to be scared of. What can you do to me that you havent to me already? So, whatevers going to happen to me, I dont (care.) I mean, if youre talking about Can you put out records that you want to put out?thats been my whole career. I always have issues with the record company. Im also a business man, and I want to appeal to everyone sometimes. Sometimes I dont care, but there are times when I want to appeal to everyone.

So, theres conversations with record labels, rumors, they shake my hand and smile at me, then theres rumors that theyre going to drop me because Im doing what Im doing. But, at the end of the day, everybody realizes Im really just trying to not just come out as a crazy extremist or anything like that. Im just having fun doing who I am. People tend to call it controversial. As far as a marketing plan, the marketing plan is the people!

FC: On your CD, there is a song called Black President.

NAS: Mmm-hmm.

FC: What are your thoughts?

NAS: Im excited like everybody else. I think its cool. A cool brother. Who could front on him? I think a lot of the leaders from the Civil Rights Era feel like they didnt want to leave this Earth acknowledging another Black man going to the next level. They wanted to be the end all, be all of it all and they cant stand to see anotherthats why I said, you know its colored folks and Negroes hate to see one of our own succeeding, because they feel like their moment was their moment, you know what I mean? And, that we should only acknowledge their moment because theyve been through the (thrown) bricks, and the name calling and segregation and all that.

So now that things have been smoother, things are different now, and they feel like this guy may have it easy. That has nothing to do with anything! The kids dont relate to that. All the kids relate to is seeing him the same way they see Kobe Bryant and want to play basketball. The same way they see Tiger Woods and now want to play golf. Its the same wayor even better that they can see Barack and they could see themselves becoming him.

So we dont have time to hate each other. We dont have time.

FC: Have you thought about what you want to do when or if you decide that you dont want to keep on making records?

NAS: Yeah! Tons of times! That is not a reality. The reality is like B.B. King. The reality is that I was buying tickets to a James Brown concert a month before he died. You do this to the gravewhether you like it or not!

People say, I dont want to rap when Im this age. There is no exit! That does even make sense! We can sit here and lie and say You know, Im too old to be rapping. It does not make sense. B.B. King works like 365 days a year. A Tribe Called Quest has been around 20 years, or something like that. So, maybe you dont want to do it and somebodys trying to offer you that check. Beyond the check, your love for what you do (makes) you want to get out there again and entertain or please people. Its just, God gave you a gift, and you just use it.

FC: You can tell tonight at the show that you really enjoy performing. Thank you and I appreciate your time.

NAS: I appreciate you too.

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