In a culture lacking taboos, one that persists is "the N-word." Hip-hop star Nas promised to stir that pot when, back in the fall, he proclaimed that his upcoming album would be titled "N*****."
One can only imagine that the folks at Island Def Jam Music Group, the record label that is producing the album, heard the sweet sound of angels singing when Nas decided to drop the name at the last minute. (For now, he says the album is untitled; it's due out July 1.) Label chair Antonio "LA" Reid came out in support of Nas' initial name, but even the rapper himself acknowledged that the provocative title would've made the record a hard sell.
But more important than selling a few CDs (or MP3s, as the kids prefer), the name-change might be another small step toward decreasing use of the racial slur. At last year's NAACP annual convention, attendees "buried" the word in a mock funeral and others in the black community, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey, have expressed their desire to hear the word pass through the lips of entertainers no more.
A report from someone who has listened to the album says that although the word was removed from the title, it is still liberally sprinkled throughout the songs. Nevertheless, Nas' move acknowledges that there's something unacceptable about the word and it does need to be used with caution.
PR Play Rating
3. On the right track