Nas offered a blunt assessment of politics, racism and activism in the era of President Donald Trump in an open letter for Mass Appeal. “We all know a racist is in office,” the rapper said. “People can talk their shit. Comedians can sound racist. People can go through their moments of that shit, but when you have the responsibility of being President and you carry on like that, you send a strong message to people outside of your group that they ain’t worth shit.”
Despite his scathing indictment of Trump, Nas was adamant that he had no time for or interest in Trump, Vice President Mike Pence or politics as a whole. Rather, he noted, he’s long been invested in how politics affects other people, and those are the issues he tackles in his music.
“My focus is on what’s happening with real people in their everyday lives,” Nas said. “How they behave, the decisions they make, and how that affects families … I speak to the everyday people. I speak to everybody. If the people are bothered by it, I speak on it. If the people are bothered and want change, I speak on that.” He added: “I move through action. My music is action. What I’m giving you through my music is my actions.”
Elsewhere, Nas ruminated on how art will thrive no matter who is in office, just as it’s important to keep fighting injustice no matter who’s in office. Nas also noted the importance of Barack Obama’s election in further realizing the American ideal that anyone can be president – or be whoever they want to be – and used his own story to call for continued perseverance in the face of Trump.
“I’m doing all the things I ever dreamed of, even though there was a Ronald Reagan, even though there was laws that ruthlessly destroyed the black community, put tons of us in prison on trumped-up charges, and put us in jail for a long time over crimes that other people get a smack on the hand for,” Nas said. He then closed his letter: “If I could do that then, now we can save many more, ya dig? Especially in this day and age with all the resources we have, all the information of the Information Age, And that’s whether Trump’s in office or not. So, I don’t got time for lippin’. I got time for actions. Anytime I’m speaking it’s action.”
Along with posting his open letter Tuesday, Nas announced a co-headlining tour with Lauryn Hill this fall. The trek kicks off September 7th in Chicago and wraps October 11th in Vancouver.