This week saw the 10th anniversary of Nas’ controversial Hip Hop Is Dead album. The skillful MC penned the project at a time when ringtone rap was at an all-time high and #barz were seemingly no longer a requirement for dopeness. While reflecting on the project a decade later, Nas said Hip Hop Is Dead didn’t turn out the way he wanted.
Speaking on the inspiration behind the album title, Nas credits De La Soul’s 1991 De La Soul Is Dead album and the buzz about hip-hop being dead at the time as the driving force behind his own 2006 project. The Queensbridge spitter thought he could reach younger rappers by “opening up the art form” and making them understand that they could still be trendy while still being lyricists. Unfortunately, a decade later, Nas feels he did more harm than good.
“In retrospect, I missed the mark by miles. I didn’t want to pick people apart. I felt it was for a younger artist to do,” Nas admits in a new clip celebrating the Hip Hop Is Dead’s 10th anniversary. “I felt like it would be dope if I could say something like hip hop is dead that would make some of the young guys realize not only can you follow what’s happening today, but you can go back into the history.”
While he may have had good intentions, the Queens rapper helped increase the generational divide in hip-hop. But at least the album gave us the “Black Republicans” collaboration between him and Jay Z.