Nas’ Presence On Virginia Tech Memorial Concert’s Lineup Causing Friction
So on Sept. 9 there’s a concert at Virginia Tech as a way to rally the community after last April’s shooting spree that killed 33 people, and the lineup is scheduled to include the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and Nas. The only problem: Family members of the victims aren’t happy with one of the acts on the bill, thanks to violent lyrics cherry-picked from said artist’s catalog over the years. (Hint: The artist in question isn’t Dave Matthews or John Mayer, despite their violence to listeners’ ears.)
Vincent J. Bove, who said he is a spokesman for seven of the victims’ families, said yesterday that the parents are outraged that the Sept. 6 concert at the university would include the rapper Nas, who in one 1999 track chants, “Shoot ‘em up, just shoot ‘em up, what?” followed by whispers of “Kill, kill, kill, murder, murder, murder.”
The lyrics “are indicative of the moral decay in our society that contributes to acts of violence,” said Bove, a New Jersey security expert who has volunteered to speak for the families. “For a university official to condone it or to be clueless of what this person’s track record is, it’s unconscionable beyond belief.”
“Clueless of what this person’s track record is”? Pot, meet grammatically challenged kettle. The fact that the first lyrics cited by the anti-Nas faction are from a 1999 album makes me wonder if they were looking for lyrical trouble of some sort–the thinking being, of course, that all hip-hop is “violent,” and getting Google results with mentions of killing and guns must be incontrovertible evidence that all of Nas’ music is, too.
Later in the article, another relative speaks out about a song on Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead:
“My issue is not with Nas or his lyrics in any other place, but this is an opportunity for healing in the community,” [brother of Virginia Tech victim Alicia] Farrell, 26, said from her home in Richmond. “It’s the most inappropriate thing I could imagine hearing at such an event.”
Of course, it’s completely understandable that Farrell is still grieving, but it’s hard to think that Nas would bust his way into an event and purposely perform songs with images that trigger traumatic memories in the minds of people who lived through the tragedy at Virginia Tech–in this case, the concert’s entire audience. He has a wide-ranging catalog with a lot of anti-violence statements, and for people to assume that he’ll pick the most aggressive songs from it is a troubling statement on how hip-hop is perceived in the post-Imus-controversy world.