Nas, Equality, and Environmentalism

I’m the type of person who primarily listens to independent hip-hop, feeling strongly that once MC’s are signed to major record labels, contracts force them to lessen the intensity of their lyrics, in order to: please the masses, make the billboard charts, and pay the heads of publishing. Anyway, last week I was persuaded into buying Nas’s Untitled album by one of my friends telling me that it was no holds bar. The CD was great, very thought provoking. I especially liked the 3 songs produced by, which gave me many revelations, 2 of which I will discuss here.

The first revelation I had was that in order for the black community to be free that is to live in the absence of oppression, by controlling their means of living, all other ethnicities in the world that do not control their means of living would have to do so as well. A central theme in the album that connects with this idea is the idea that the words proletariat and ni%*a are synonymous. This theme is firmly developed at the end of We are not Alone when Nas says,

“It’s just been recent when everyone started to feel like there was an Elite group that runs everything and everybody else was sheep, ignorant, making all ethnicities, colors, and creeds – ni%*as”

If society realizes that even though the people of different ethnicities live differently, and sees through these differences that the all proletariat currently are experiencing equal oppression, this unification will create such a strong movement in the approach towards universal freedom that nothing could stop it.

The second revelation I had when listening to Untitled was when in We are not Alone Nas says,

“Just when ni%8as gonna see they cut. Global warming bout to burn us up”

I would like to consider myself the type of person who tries to preserve the life support systems of the human race, so in hearing this rhyme I notice a stark reality that threatens the ultimate goal of hip-hop artists. If the ultimate goal in hip-hop is to live in a world where there is justice, freedom, and equality for all, it is safe to assume that those who want a world like this would want to see it sustained for many generations. So therefore it appears to me that hip-hop should contain more awareness towards the environmental movement. Why doesn’t it? Socially conscious lyrics that talk about political issues motivate listeners to act towards solving those problems. And the often do solve problems, like a problem that has been discussed in hip-hop for decades has been the lack of representation of street conscious people in government, and now Barack Obama is president. So if conscious lyrics motivate people to act, and effectively solve problems, I call upon the hip-hop community to introduce a new aspect of the struggle, the environmental movement, into your art, and then when ni%*as see they cut, the proletariat will not have to worry about global warming burning us up.