Nas, one of the greatest lyricists to ever spit, has been a voice in hip hop for decades. From his debut album, Illmatic, to his most recent album, Life is Good, and numerous features, he has broken down concepts of street life, money, religion, and the rap game in general. In addition, a piece of work that he is well recognized for is his 2006 album, Hip Hop is Dead. Released almost a decade ago, the album has a title that suggests that rap artists do not have the influence that they could potentially have on the world. According to Nas, “America is dead. There is no political voice. Music is dead …” He also states that hip hop was in a vulnerable state and needed to change.
Looking back on this commentary, it is clear that Nas’ viewpoint of hip hop at that time no longer holds water today. The rap industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Hip Hop artists are still representing their respective communities, being played on the radio, charting on the top of the Billboard Charts, and performing on late night television shows. An artist like Kendrick Lamar has even been cited as having the President of the United States’ favorite song of the year, and Nas himself passed the torch to J. Cole on his remix to J. Cole’s “Let Nas Down“. This all illustrates that hip hop artists truly do have a voice and that this voice is making an impact. If Hip Hop truly was dead, we wouldn’t have a range of quality artists pushing the frontier of hip hop music.
All in all, the goal of hip hop is to bring forth thoughts and ideas on a melodic beat, and artists today are accomplishing that goal and more. Nas may have had a point in 2006, but in our eyes, he would not have much of a case today.
This is how we feel about this issue, but you may feel differently. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!