As you are reading, here are some of helpful links to guide you. I'm going to reference them throughout this post and I want to make sure that you can find them easily when you're done reading.
First and foremost, Nas always has been and always will be for the culture. This is something I've gotten to learn as I've gotten older because my mom was not letting me listen to rap when I was younger. When Illmatic came out, I was 4 years old and would have gotten slapped in the mouth if I repeated some of the things that he mentioned in his songs. So, like I said, I know his philosophy because of my understanding of him during my college years and reading about his life through articles- some of which are linked above. I think I realized that Nas was about building true wealth in his life and the community when I saw him on the Bevel ad, but we will get to that later. Nas was able to pull himself up from the midst of tax troubles to setting his sights on Silicon Valley- and he's trying to tell Black people to do the same. "Nas Album Done" dropped on DJ Khaled's "Major Key" album, but too many people got lost in the beats for my taste. Yeah, the album is done, but what else is he talking about here? Let's go through some of the major points.
[NOT] Voting Is Not An Option
"Celebrity Apprentice a devil show/ Big up to Africa, Mexico"
Nas ain't here for Trump- PERIOD. And you shouldn't be either. So he gives props to a few of the minorities that Trump has treated like trash before and during this election, but it's also a moment to let you know that we shouldn't be with him and this is not a time to sit back and not vote. It doesn't matter that you think voting doesn't affect anything or you have to choose between Trump and Hillary so we're already screwed. Get up and vote and help change the culture. If you still feel like you didn't do anything after the voting booth, then do more.
Generational Wealth + Leakage + Gentrification + Just Follow Me, Ok....Because It Gets Real In This Verse
"To all my ghost supporters, go support us like a local black-owned grocery store/ ‘Cause in the hood shit ain't passed down through blood/It's a dub on that, we get government aid
/Spend it at they stores, puttin' they kids through college/We need balance/ So we can lease and own deeds in our projects/ So I'm askin' Gs to go in their pockets/ The racial economic inequality, let's try to solve it
Let's go line by line here- because when I first heard this part my mind was blown. It was just so timely that I couldn't get over it. Come through with this knowledge, Nas. Ok- FORWARD. So, I'm going to leave the "ghost" supporters alone because I have multiple ways that can be broken down that I'll keep to myself, but black-owned grocery stores? Tweet me right now if you know right off of the top of your head if you know where one is that is still open and nowhere near being shut down. I mean that- tweet me. One, because I want to help you spread the word and, two, because I want to know that they actually exist. I know there are some sporadically that are still holding on by a thread, but seeing that many of our black and brown hoods are living in food deserts, it's imperative that we start supporting those or starting our own.
Then, he goes into the topic of generational wealth is a sad topic off top because we know Black people were not given a fair chance to build anything for our generations because of slavery and a host of other system practices that were put in place to keep us as consumers, and never owners. A lot of our money is focused on servicing the need right now because many of us don't have the means to look or build towards a future of comfort. For many of us, there are no trust funds, real estate developments, secret societies, or even adequate jobs with healthcare- so the idea of us saving to build more can seem ludicrous. But, it's so possible, ya'll. I promise. We have tremendous buying power- according to the Nielsen report, we have 1.2 trillion dollars in buying power and the trends say that we can increase to 1.4 trillion by 2020. That's why it sucks when he says in the next line that we're using that money to send other people's kids to college. So, thanks to leakage (see above), many other races set up shop in our neighborhoods and then dip when the sun goes down, meaning they take our money right with them when they go. This could be anyone from white people, Mexican people, Korean people- you've seen who owns the stores in our neighborhood. Most of these people (I won't say all because a very small percentage of them DO live among us in VERY FEW of these neighborhoods) do not invest in our banks, our homes, our parks, our movie theaters- NOTHING. That's why there is so much tension all of the time between cultures who camp out with us for the day and then drive safely home, but you'll have to read some of my links above for that. (Hint: Maggie Anderson gives you all the goods.) We need to own homes. We need to own properties. We have to stop wasting our time trying to get rich and start learning how to accumulate wealth otherwise we're going to continue to see ourselves being pushed out of areas that we have grown up in as children or see them implode altogether. OWN SOMETHING. You would be surprised how easy it is to buy a home. The amount of money you can put on a down payment is the amount of money some of ya'll get in your refund checks. THAT'S A FACT. We can solve racial ECONOMIC equality by looking inward and figuring out what's important to us. We have to stop spending money on things that we can't take with us when we're gone and that we can't pass down to our children. And, no, girl- your grandkids won't care about your dusty Louboutins, but they would go dumb over acres and acres of land. Don't forget that.
Support Black Business
My signature fade with the Bevel blade/That's a major key/I told her she smart and loyal, I like that/That's a major key/Start a label, run it, sign yourself/That's a major key
This was the most important part of the song for me. I had been hearing about Bevel because of the ads that Tristan Walker ran during some of my favorite podcasts, The Read and The Friend Zone, and I was happy to know that there was a grooming line out there for coarse, curly hair BECAUSE GIRL. It was time. So, from then on, I started to follow Tristan's brand and watched out for trends and the moves that he was making. I knew that he was Black excellence, so I also knew that it would be a matter of time before some non-Black company tried to take over. Like, clockwork, Gillette shows up and offers Tristan 1.5 billion dollar for his company, to which he replies, "Nah." I don't know him, so that's not a direct quote. But, the most important thing is that a Black owned business turned down a White corporation so Bevel gets to stay Blackety Black Black, ya'll. Now, imagine my joy after knowing all this and then seeing Nas show up in a Bevel ad. AND THEN IMAGINE MY ECSTASY WHEN BEVEL GETS A SHOUTOUT FROM NAS ON A HUGE SONG ON AN EPIC ALBUM. It was too much. But, still too many people missed that Bevel was Black owned and doing it for themselves and it was being supported by another Black person who believes in Black people doing it for themselves. That's major. In the rap world, celebrities tend to focus on brands that could care less about its Black consumers and they wear their endorsements with pride. To see a Black man lift another Black man, an entrepreneurial one at that, should bring joy to your life because it brought it to mine. Also, he trusted Bevel to do his SIGNATURE FADE- you know...the one that Nas' brand is built upon? The one that keeps him looking scrumptious with the hair on the top and close to the ears shave on the side? Yeah, Tristan Walker got to be entrusted with that.
This Is Getting Too Long And I Know I'm Gushing, But One More Thing....
Still paid, stackin', new stash /Went from hangin' with shooters and clappers/ To computer hackers
Nas came from the hood to having tax troubles to building WEALTH. The man has invested in more than 100 companies. Read that Hustle article I linked for you- some of the companies he's invested in you would not believe.
Here are all of the links again because I know some of ya'll will not scroll to the top again to get them: