NAS has defended rap music in the wake of recent accusations by Culture Minister KIM HOWELLS that it glorifies gun culture, saying that his music represents real life on the streets, not a “story book” view of life.
At a press conference in London tonight (February 7), Nas – full name Nasir Jones – said he couldn’t lie on record. “I just deal with reality and I can’t lie on record and say life is peaches and cream and roses, ‘cause it’s not. The things that I’m around, the people that I’m around, the life that I’m around, it comes out in my music. Rap music speaks on violence, not because rap is violent but because the world is violent. Rap music isn’t a story book, it’s life.”
Nas, who is making his first visit to the UK for six years, was forced to postpone his NME Awards show at London Astoria on Wednesday (February 5) until February 24 because a video shoot for his new single ’I Can’ had to be relocated from New York to Los Angeles, when the East Coast proved too chilly. He explained: “New York is freezing cold and it’s impossible to shoot the video with a bunch of kids in that cold, so we went to California and where I was able to shoot the video, and we just couldn’t get a flight over [to the UK for the show] in time.”
Clearly happy to be back in Britain he hinted that the long-awaited show would be stripped of over-the-top bling-bling trappings, and promised it will be: “A mic, two turntables and hip-hop music.”
He also took the chance to sing the praises of Eminem, and his protégée, 50 Cent, and said that hip-hop magazine Source, which recently featured a cartoon of the editor brandishing Eminem’s head, was victimising him because of his colour. But he praised Slim Shady for his powers of communication. “It’s [the Source vendetta] really stupid. He’s a great artist. He’s educating us, telling us we have to communicate with each other. And we are learning about his life through his rhymes. It’s a shame. But I’ve been through a lot of bullshit, and Eminem will have to go through it too.”
Speaking about 50 Cent, he said: “Right now I’m feeling 50 Cent, because it’s that raw, street feel.” He added that he rates Ms Dynamite highly among the new UK talent.
The star, who confirmed that he is dating Kelis, was in the country to promote his album ‘God’s Son’, and the forthcoming single ‘I Can’.
He also took the chance to talk about his new label Ill Will, named after his childhood friend who was shot, and his first signings Bravehearts. He added that he hopes to use his time in the UK to do a bit of A&R scouting, and pick up some demos of UK acts.