Nas has never been one to mince words. He’s previously used albums to declare that “Hip Hop Is Dead,” and the cover of his last record shows him shirtless with whipping wounds in the shape of an N to represent the racial epithet he planned on naming the album.
The latest controversy involving the New York-based rapper arrives in the form of a fuming e-mail allegedly written by Nas and directed toward label heads at Def Jam, including L.A. Reid. The missive was sent to numerous blogs Thursday, including the Lefsetz Letter -- the letter in it's entirety can be read here.
Sources close to the rapper have confirmed the authenticity of the letter to both XXL magazine and MTV, adding that it was not meant to be seen by the public. They added that the rapper wasn’t bothered by the leak. A source at Def Jam Recordings, however, told The Times that the e-mail wasn't real, though that person declined to go on the record.
In September, Nas took to Twitter to announce that his fans could anticipate “The Lost Tapes: Vol. 2,” a sequel to the 2002 compilation of unreleased works.
But the project, which he told MTV would be released Dec. 14, appears to be in label purgatory, if the lengthy letter is to be believed.
With a blunt subject line of “Put My [expletive] Out,” the e-mail allegedly from Nas proclaims he is “nobody's slave” and pleas for the label's respect and support.
"I won't even tap dance around in an e-mail, I will get right into it," the e-mail said. "People connect to the Artist @ the end of the day, they don't connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it."
The e-mail goes on to state that its author believes the main problem with the suits at Def Jam is that they want to be the stars instead of the artists.
"This isn't the '90s, though. Beefing with record labels is so 15 years ago. @ this point I just need you all to be very clear where I stand and how I feel about 'my label,' ” it continues. “I could go on Twitter or Hot 97 tomorrow and get 100,000 protesters @ your building but I choose to walk my own path my own way because since day one I have been my own man."
The e-mail attributed to the Queens rapper looks at the project as a "movement" and a crucial set-up piece for his career and wants the label to stop being its "own worst enemy."
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Rapper Nas performs on BET's 106 & Park in New York City. Credit: Peter Kramer/Getty Images