Nas pens angry letter to L.A. Reid: What’s going on over at Def Jam?

10.07.10 7 years ago

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Nas has penned an irrate email to the executives at his label Def Jam, highlighting discord between artists and the traditional label record release cycle.

About three weeks ago, rapper Nas (born Nasir Jones) Tweeted that he was prepping the release of “The Lost Tapes Vol. 2,” the follow-up to the first fan favorite compilation released in 2002, and told MTV it’d be out on Dec. 14. Def Jam issued no official press release to support its imminent appearance.

About a week later, a rumor began spreading that L.A. Reid, the label’s top brass, was fired or forced to resign after six years. The news proved false, but did give major hip-hop and pop press the opportunity to muse why Reid may have been canned: he’s helmed the careers of many of Def Jam’s biggest names, but his move to sign more pop-leaning artists like Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez may have ruffled some feathers.

Kanye West has dropped Reid’s name a few times since his impressive Twitter career launched a few scant weeks ago. Most recently in a post indicating that Def Jam was down with the Nov. 22 drop of new set “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” he mentioned Reid’s name like the exec had finally and officially sanctioned the due date — adding that Reid is “doing a great job.”

Which leads us up to last night or early this morning that Nas sent his email. XXL has confirmed that the hip-hop vet was, indeed, the author of the letter, though he didn’t intend for it to be publicly circulated. Then again, the mag writes, he didn’t mind, either.

[More after the jump…]

Below is the complete text of the letter. The rapper’s biggest complaints include the apparent shelving of “Lost Tapes,” the fact that Def Jam isn’t releasing any other major albums in the fourth quarter and how — in his eyes — Def Jam is no longer a definitive hip-hop label. He accuses its executives of attempting to steal the spotlight from its artists and caring too much about what radio and print press has to say about the records.

“Stop being your own worst enemy. Let’s get money!” he wrote.

A request for comment from Def Jam was not returned by press time.

I doubt the conclusion of the “Lost Tapes” debacle will be what Nas wants, but clearly he’s willing to risk his relations with the label in support of his project. If the record does get its release, but fails to “get money,” I can’t imagine that support network growing stronger for future releases unless they’re of the contractual, capital-A Official Album variety.

Nas released an album with Damian Marley, “Distant Relatives,” earlier this year, but his last solo set, , which was self-titled, was released in 2008. It bowed at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. The album cover featured his bare back, with scars from what look like lashings to make out an “N.” Perhaps, to wit, in the first paragraph of the letter below?

What do you think of the email? Would you rally in support of his “Lost Tapes” release?

From: Nas
To: LA Reid, Steve Bartels, Steve Gawley, Michael Seltzer, Joseph Borrino, Chris Hicks


Peace to all,

With all do respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY”s slave. This is not the 1800′s, respect me and I will respect you.

I won”t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. 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 #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren”t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn”t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn”t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation

This isn”t the 90′s 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.” 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. I did business with Tommy Mottola and Donnie Einer, two of the most psycho dudes this business ever created. I worked well with them for one major reason……. they believed in me. The didn”t give a fuck about what any radio station or magazine said….those dudes had me.

Lost Tapes is a movement and a very important set up piece for my career as it stands. I started this over 5 years ago @ Columbia and nobody knew what it was or what it did but the label put it out as an LP and the fans went crazy for it and I single handlely built a new brand of rap albums. It”s smart and after 5 years it”s still a head of the game. This feels great and you not feeling what I”m feeling is disturbing. Don”t get in the way of my creativity. We are aligned with the stars here, this is a movement. There is a thing called KARMA that comes to haunt you when you tamper with the aligning stars. WE ARE GIVING THE PEOPLE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT. Stop throwing dog shit on a MAGICAL moment.

You don”t get another Nas recording that doesn”t count against my deal….PERIOD! Keep your bullshit $200,000.00 fund. Open the REAL budget. This is a New York pioneers ALBUM, there ain”t many of us. I am ready to drop in the 4th quarter. You don”t even have shit coming out! Stop being your own worst enemy.

Let”s get money!


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