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1 minute read
Christopher John Farley

There’s a thin, hard-to-find line between representing one’s community and exploiting it. The rapper Nas is, more often than not, on the righteous side of the line. His chart-topping new CD, It Was Written, his second, is full of violent episodes and sometimes needlessly rough language, but, Nas insists, “I’m not a gangsta rapper.” And he isn’t. Nas, who hails from New York City’s Queensbridge housing projects, is clearly saddened and outraged by the violence he sees around him, and he’s out to create songs that are more than cathartic cartoons. On one song, I Gave You Power, Nas shows some of the senseless horror of crime by rapping about it from the perspective of a gun. If I Ruled the World (Imagine That), which he performs with guest vocalist Lauryn Hill of the Fugees, presents Nas’ vision of paradise as a “better livin’ type of place to raise our kids in.” The lyrics in It Was Written could be sharper, but the music, energetic and engaging on many tracks, helps drive his message home. –C.J.F.

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