Friday, August 17, 2012

Nas-Gate, or How a single tweet almost destroyed the very fabric of hip-hop

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Dream Hampton
  • Dream Hampton
“I think Jay writes what he believes. Nas' "Nigger" album was largely written by Stic of dead prez and Jay Electronica @JusAire...”@dreamhampton

That single statement, posted on Twitter by famed writer/journalist/filmmaker dream hampton set off a firestorm of controversy this week the likes of which hip-hop hasn't seen since Pac claimed he slept with Biggie's wife. To allege that Nasir Jones, a rhymer who's on many hip-hop fans' short list of the Greatest MCs of All Time, didn't write his rhymes on a bonafide hip-hop classic like Untitled was absolute blasphemy.

C'mon ... really?

Of course, Untitled is far from a classic. So it's not like this was a slam at some hip-hop masterpiece. Also, ghostwriters have been a part of hip-hop since Grandmaster Caz penned “Rapper's Delight” for the Sugarhill Gang, so its not like we haven't heard of this before. And sure, Nas is one of the most gifted rappers ever, but its not like dream claimed that he didn't write Illmatic; the most memorable thing about the Untitled album was its original N.I.G.G.E.R. title.

For the record, both stic.man and Jay Electronica roundly denied dream's tweet — but whether or not Nas wrote those verses is irrelevant in the wake of the overreaction and disgusting behavior that followed.

Hampton was threatened, insulted and derided as a blemish on the face of hip-hop journalism for tweeting what she did. Never mind the fact that this statement wasn't published in some famed hip-hop magazine, nor was it posted on some blog. She tweeted it. In the most offhand sort of way. Forget for a minute that half of what you think you know about 2Pac, Jay-Z, and the Notorious B.I.G. came from the pen of Ms. Hampton. Forget for a minute that she has never shown herself to be a person who would slander an artist wantonly. Think about what it says about hip-hop's male hierarchy and the overarching power of today's uber-fan that she was subject to the kind of backlash that's usually reserved for the George Zimmermans and Casey Anthonys of the world.

She tweeted it. They denied it. So let's all stone her for "lies."

They even briefly "killed" her — via Wikipedia.

Has it come to this? There have been blog posts about the "state of hip-hop journalism" in the wake of the offending tweet; but no one considers that perhaps hip-hop fans should remember that Twitter is a social media site where people oftentimes interact in the most casual of ways. Maybe someone should remind all of us that a tweet isn't a headline or a cover story. Or perhaps — just perhaps — we should all pause for a minute and remember that a rapper writing or not writing his raps on a forgettable concept album isn't really all that important.

Even if that rapper is the great Nasir Jones.

Follow Todd "Stereo" Williams on Twitter.

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