Life and Death

With his most recent release, Hip-Hop Is Dead, acclaimed MC Nas delivered a bitter requiem for rap. But is it truly a time for mourning?

The pop packages will come through MTV. They got satellites. I mean, the voice is there, but I don't know if the culture is. I don't think it was illegal, but everything in society was sort of illegal when Saddam Hussein was in power. I guess there is no place for it in Iraqi society when there is no food or shelter.

Right... true.

Loving hip-hop right this time On "Who Killed It," you spit, "Before she dropped the money bag on the floor and died/She said, 'If you really love me, I'll come back alive.'" How do we love hip-hop right this time?

Aw man, it's something you can work on, but you can't force. You can't fake it; it just takes you over. It's nothing you can try to do. When Michael Jackson was on top, anybody could have came and danced, but they didn't know where it's from or understand what he's doing. It kinda grabs you, once you know.

If you ruled the world now, what would you do differently?

You know what I would do? I would give people the truth. Give people the understanding that life could be better. I'd break down each reason why and hire the right people for the right jobs. I'd change things a whole lot. We probably share the same views. We grew up liking the same music. I'm sure what you would like to change, I would love to change too.

Reviving the struggle

How come we have no more Bob Marleys or John Lennons, musicians that spit the truth and create a shift in popular thought? The closest thing to that now would be Tupac, or even you—people in hip-hop that are unsatisfied with the status quo. Revolutions have been commodified. They take that antagonistic force and integrate it to make it nothing, similar to how hip-hop has been commercialized. Why do you think we don't have anything close to a musical force that moves people?

That's real. Everything you said, you just said it right there. I think it's, in a way, that we have overcome. A lot of people think we made it. There is nothing to fight for. People slowed down. They're cool with little achievements, but they feel like their fight is over. Leave it to the new generation. But the new generation doesn't get excited or sparked. They need something crazy tragic to be committed, so it doesn't happen till it's too late. When the older generation fought in their time, the new generation never saw the fight, they just reaped the benefit. So they come up and everything is good. They don't know what they are fighting for anymore. They don't see the tricks that are happening.

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