5.29.2008

Nas’ ‘Be a Nigger Too’ Video Screening

At the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York City on Thursday night, journalists and members of the media anxiously gathered to watch the world premiere of Nas’ controversial video for “Be a Nigger Too” off his forthcoming untitled album. Before heading into the intimate screening room, the attendees mingled as a DJ blasted classic Nas tracks from behind a gallery of posterboards touting images of lynch victims and Martin Luther King Jr.’s arrest.

Once inside, the crowd, consisting of HOT 97 personalities Miss Info and Angie Martinez as well as rappers Consequence and Fabolous, kicked back in the plush leather couches and clutched their wine glasses tight as video director Rik Cordero and Escobar introduced the highly anticipated clip.

The video, which Cordero said was inspired by Spike Lee’s racially charged film 25th Hour, featured only one repeating shot of Nasir rapping in front of a mirror with the word “Nigger” scrawled across it. The clip featured lingering shots of celebrities and personalities like Andre Royal, Seth Abrams, and John Cho, all of whom appeared as Nas doled out epithets “spic,” “kike,” and “chink.” Perhaps even more controversial was its interlude depicting a slave master pointing a gun at a child, followed by the hanging of another slave and a shot of a white man taking off his Klan hood.

“Be a Nigger Too” ended with Nas saying, “Fuck you Nas, you threw it all away,” imitating those who criticized him for confronting racism through this medium and bringing it into the forefront of public consciousness at this time. Nasty Nas ended the evening with a Q&A session, discussing how Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby “make money off my shit” by “getting paid to stop it.” With these kind of conspiracy theories being addressed, fans expectations can only be heightened as the July 1st release of his ninth album draws near.

–Steven Horowitz in New York