Nas’s Angola Blues

In “If I ruled the World,” Nas raps: “I’d open every cell in Attica send em to Africa.” Then in the 1998 Hype Williams feature film “Belly” (costar DMX), Nas’s character wants to move his girlfriend and child to the continent as a way out of his life as a gangster. (He does not specify which country.) More recently Nas collaborated on the decent concept album “Distant Relatives” with Damian Marley, in which they aim to engage with the music of Africa. (They ended up sampling, among others, the music of Fela Kuti and Mulatu Astatke). Anyway, for all his symbolic politics, Nas has always made it clear he’ll play in Africa if the money is right and not because of some sentimental reason. (In video footage taken at a press conference a few years ago, Nas claims to have visited the continent three times.) Well, it seems over the New Year’s Nas had another opportunity to play in an African country. He was supposed to play a big party/concert in the Angolan capital. The Angolan promoter even wired him a down payment of $300,000 to get him to commit. In the end Nas did not turn up. No one would have cared, except that his American promoter as well as his son were detained by Angolan authorities in Luanda and charged with fraud. Nas, meanwhile, claims it’s all a miscommunication, and went out partying with Lebron James, a basketball player who once posed for a Nike ad as a Mobutu-like figure sitting on a throne with lions at his feet.

Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs is the Founder and Editor of Africa is a Country. He is on faculty of The New School in New York.

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