Here’s a cool little story that I’m sure you won’t appreciate.
Then… this happened:
Curveball officially thrown.
Oh Nas, I love you, but you can’t make anything easy, can you?
Instead of directly confirming or denying the ghostwriting allegations that hip-hop writer dream hampton and ex-Hot 97 employee Frank William Miller Junior set off, the rapper sent out the cryptic and loaded tweet you see above.
So… what the hell does this actually mean?
Now, before I go on, disclaimer: this could be just an instance where Nas' lil bro, Jungle, brought an extra potent strand of weed to the God and he just randomly tweeted out… whatever. But, me no thinks so.
Nas has a reputation for being aloof, for not really caring about what other people think, no matter how much feces is being thrown at him.
But the truth is, I think the rapper is more calculated than that. I think he knows what's going on, hears everything that is said about him and he responds, accordingly, if he feels it’s necessary. And I have a catalogue of dense, detail-ridden rhymes to back up that claim (Well, excluding Untitled. Count me as one of the ones who believe dream and Frank. )
I think he knows what he's doing. So let's look at this tweet and do some deconstructing.
"It’s not Hop-Hop is Dead no more. We’re just practicing a lost hidden art. Don’t get too deep on me people, just thinkin’ out loud."
We have three different sentences that are all semi-related. The first line he is referencing is his 2006 album Hip-Hop is Dead, an LP where he played hip-hop historian. In that line he claims that we've moved on from that era, whether he's talking about his own music and making that kind of album or hip-hop in general, I’m not sure.
The second sentence is the one that I found the most interesting: “We’re just practicing a lost hidden art.”
Even though he wants to move on, he still mentions the past.
Now, obviously, he could be talking about rap in general, and making a reference to slaves using rhymes (something he talked about on the Hip-Hop is Dead track “Who Killed It”).
Or…he can be talking about the art of ghostwriting.
For the most part, in hip-hop, ghostwriting is seen as a sin, especially if you’re one of the rappers in the upper echelon. But in its early parts, ghostwriting was a common practice in hip-hop. Some of the culture’s most influential records were ghostwritten. Hell, Furious Five’s “The Message,” universally recognized as the greatest rap record of all time, was mostly written by someone other than Melle Mel.
And I'm not sure if ghostwriting has ever really left. We all know about the obvious cases like Eminem and Jay-Z writing for Dr. Dre or Pharoahe Monch and The Game writing for P. Diddy, but there are plenty of others we don't know about.
How about someone like Skillz? You don’t think he keeps food in his fridge by just doing those annual yearly wrap-up songs, do you?
Which gets me to the last line: "Don’t get too deep on me people, just think' out loud," almost like this really isn’t a big deal in hip-hop circles.
Or maybe, he was saying don’t look too deep into the tweet.
I don’t know, but this time, I’m pressing Send.
We can Twitter all night, baby @Milkman__Dead