“Nas offends no one by offending everyone”, said Rik Cordero to a room full of editors, marketers, and music industry figures last night at the premier for Nas’ video, “Be A N***r Too” held at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in Lower Manhattan. During the reception hour prior to the screening, attendees were buzzing about the video’s suggestive promotional posters that have popped up on the Internet and whether the video would live up to the hype created throughout the blogosphere.
In short, “Be A N***r Too” is everything we’ve envisioned and more. Shot completely in black and white, Cordero and Nas summoned Spike Lee for inspiration: the video’s treatment references the most memorable scene in 25th Hour where a defeated Ed Norton addresses himself in a mirror and narrates visual montage of the ills of contemporary New York City. Here, Nas also looks in the mirror, but his raps become the orator while scenes of an interracial struggle grace the screen for several minutes.
Amongst the cameos are made by La Bruja, Andre Royo and Gbenga Akinnagbe (“The Wire”), and John Cho (Harold and Kumar). I won’t spoil too much, but the last 30 seconds of the video (or at least its unedited version) will likely prevent “Be A N***r Too” to receive any love from mainstream media outlets. But like Nas cares: when asked if the video would make the same point if edited for MTV, he simply replied with a grin and a casual, “Fuck ‘em."
The inquisitive crowd (which included Fabolous, Consequence, Angie Martinez, and DJ Enuff) threw Nas plenty of questions surrounding the controversy of his album title (it’s now “Untitled," but said the imagery will “scream ‘N***r’” if the album title doesn’t), the election, and the state of minority culture in these trying times. Nas answered most questions with a calm report, but his strongest statement of the night came when asked about whom he calls “our so-called Black leaders.” Some quotes from Nas' mini-monologue:
“Hip-Hop has caught a lot of heat from so-called Black leaders; people with a lot of power have fought to bury the word. We got a lot of enemies that are supposed to be Black leaders that extort labels…they’re mad that we’re young getting money, and them niggas is old….Sharpton gets money off my shit! And it’s not just Sharpton, they’re all getting paid to stop it.”
“This record is about the older generation looking down on us. We catch a lot of flack from dudes….the Cosbys [of the world]. They’re on the way out and we’re coming up; they’re playing the tap dance role and we’re smarter than their asses!”
Nas’ Untitled hits stores July 1.
Listen below for the unedited audio version of "Be a N***r Too." (WARNING: Strong Language)Be A Nigger Too - NaS