It Was Written: Nas' Odd Relationship With God Presented In His Lyrics
One writer looks at some of Nas' most blasphemous lyrics and tries to understand why "God's Son" "went to Hell for snuffing Jesus."
The views and opinions expressed in the following editorial are those expressly of the writer of this piece and do not necessarily reflect those of HipHopDX.
Artists have been killed for making fun of Islam. Actors have been blacklisted in Hollywood for making fun of Jews. For some reason though, in Hip Hop, it’s okay to disrespect Jesus Christ, then turn around and praise Him.
“I knew about the pen touching the paper. [Large Professor] knew that too, but he also knew to tell me, ‘Don’t say this. Take that out. Why would you say this? That makes you look crazy! This word don’t make no sense. I don’t even care no more. I just go with what I’m feeling.” - Nas on writing his lyrics, [Mass Appeal, “Nas and Large Professor Cover Story”]
For 20 years, Nas has demonstrated a peculiar relationship with God from the first time we heard him through to his 2010 Distant Relatives project. One of the most polarizing figures in Hip Hop, and greatest emcees of all time has some mixed messages about God. Here are few:
"When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus." - "Live At the Barbeque," 1991 (Main Source)
"And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist."
Nasir Jones was around 17 when he wrote that line. It has shock value. He wanted to be heard, and blasphemy was a popular trend in Hip Hop at the time. But no matter how talented he was for his age, he wasn’t an adult. A teenager doesn’t know any better. He gets a pass.
"You ain’t as hot as I is, all of these false prophets are not messiahs." - "Queens Get The Money," 2008
"And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people." Matthew 24:11
False prophets? Like the rapper from Queensbridge calling himself the messiah or "God's son," perhaps? He was in his mid-thirties when he wrote that lyric. You can’t blame youth anymore.
"The first shall be last. I'm the man's man, a rappers rapper, GOD-SON, they'll be none after." - "Last Real N***a Alive," 2002
"And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross," 1 John 5:2
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Revelations 22:13
By calling himself "God’s Son," Nas is arguably telling the listener that he’s Jesus Christ, the same person he snuffed at 12.
"When my mama told me, nigga, you could be Christ. Jesus, what is he like?" - "Revolutionary Warfare," 2002
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." -John 14:12
After making a Hip Hop song about carrying a cross ("The Cross") or crucifying yourself in the "Hate Me Now" video, one can wonder how literal Nas took his mother's words. Cynically speaking, the only thing Nas might have in common with Jesus is that they each loved a loose woman. But Jesus never wound up paying $50,000 a month in child support.
"You should know there's only one Nas y'all. But count your blessings, count your blessings." - "Count Your Blessings," 2010 (Distant Relatives)
"You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said." Luke 1:45
Also, yeah, Esco says count your blessings even though you wish you were him and it sucks to be you.
"God will forgive you bastards, only if you repent to the Nazareth Savage." - "Nazareth Savage," 2004
"Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.'” - John 1:45
"And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." - Acts 10:38
Nas is calling himself Jesus—again. Worse, he’s calling Jesus Christ a savage.
Notice that Nas has a lack of anti-Sematic lyrics…oh, wait.
I Am…, (Album) 1999
"But Moses protested, 'If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, "The God of your ancestors has sent me to you," they will ask me, "What is his name?" Then what should I tell them?' God replied to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am.' Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” - Exodus 3:13-14
Long story short, the Pharaoh in Egypt oppressed the Israelites. God told Moses to liberate them. Moses lacked confidence. God told him to be strong. God said, tell them my name and they will follow you. Moses asked God what his name is. “I Am” was God’s reply. Nas mismatched both references by putting God’s name over an image of himself as the Pharaoh.
Let’s try to see where he’s coming from.
Getting Attention & The Nation of Gods and Earths
Remember when Nas tried to name his album Nigger? He wanted attention.
Remember when he said "Hip-Hop Is Dead?" He wanted attention.
Remember "Ether," when he called out Jay-Z for loving “the attention?” He apparently spoke from experience: He’s comfortable using blasphemy as a form of getting attention.
Unfortunately for Nas, shock value is useless when it isn’t understood; Even The Beatles went downhill after John Lennon said they were bigger than Jesus.
What he should be doing is turning on Illmatic and listening to AZ's verse:
"We were beginners in the hood as five percenters, But something must of got in us cause all of us turned to sinners." - "Life’s A Bitch," 1994
According to the Nation of Gods and Earths, only Five Percent of the world’s population know the divine truth and use it righteously. Thus, the term “Five Percenters.”
Eighty Five Percent of the world doesn’t have a clue.
The remaining Ten Percent know the truth, but willingly hide it for selfish commercial gain.
If you’ve thoughtfully read this article, you see why Nas is a Ten Percenter.
But I personally forgive him. Not only do I forgive him, I urge you not to hold his lyrics against him. Why? Because God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do I have to judge my neighbor?
Besides, I have a 2x4 my eye. Who am I to judge the splinter in his?
So here are three divine Nas lyrics, with references to The Bible you may have missed. These are the lyrics that matter.
"You should live there's only one life that's the physical / Rich or poor in jail why the fuck should you be miserable?" - "Nothing Lasts Forever," 2002
" So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can." - Ecclesiastes 3:12
"Heaven's just a mile away, I'm talkin' heaven on earth. Ain't got nothin' to do with money...I'm talkin' about heaven in your own heart, in your own mind." - " Heaven Outro," 2002
"Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" - Corinthians 3:16
"Sometimes I sit back with a Buddha sack / Mind's in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts? " - "One Love," 1994
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5
Thus, Nas not caring about what he’s saying lead to some of the most ignorant lyrics in Hip Hop history, a great irony for a man considered among the greatest lyricists of all time. Isn’t it strange how the tongue can bless God but also curse things created in God’s image?
Chris Thomas is an attorney based in New York, and a contributor to HipHopDX.com, AllHipHop and others. His last editorial was "The Right To Remain Silent: The Best Way To Stay Out Of Jail."