“Let’s All Evolve Together”: Nas Calls for Unity in Hip-Hop

at 2:21 pm | By

Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

A couple days ago, Nas took to Instagram to promote his new track with DJ Esco and Future, titled “Walk Thru”, released on March 28. The track is a single off of Esco’s own album, titled Kolorblind, which dropped March 30.

Although the picture in Nas’ post shows a simple promotion of the track, the caption touched on a lot more than just the new single. In the caption, Nas speaks on the lack of unity within the black community in the music industry, and advocates for a collective evolution among artists towards a more unified future. Read the full caption of the post below.

”Today’s game is as big as it gets. It seems like nobody gettin along tho. It’s a big enough game to do what you do and let ya talent speak for itself. This new cat over here says something bad about Pac. This older guy gets mad at the new guy. Or “Nas ain’t hip hop. Migos and Future are Hip Hop” Neil Diamond x Jack White have a Concert coming up together. Gettin it done. White musicians have that freedom and are praised for coming together… more power to them and I’m a fan of it. why can’t black artist do that and make it cool? We are all artists, let’s all evolve together. Walk With Me. WALK THRU.

In the post, Nas makes subtle references to two incidents that represent microcosms of certain issues in hip-hop today. The first reference, in which he describes someone speaking down on 2pac, is almost sure to be alluding the recent comments made by Lil Xan on the On Clout 9 show on Revolt TV. On the show, Xan gives 2pac a rating of two out of nine, and says that Pac’s music is “boring”, resulting in a public outcry against Lil Xan and his opinions. Since then, Xan has backpedaled a little bit, but a sour taste lingers on many tongues in the hip-hop community.

The second issue Nas alludes to in his caption is an incident that occurred back in September 2017, when Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball made some controversial comments on the first episode of his family’s reality TV series, Ball In The Family. Don’t nobody listen to Nas no more,” Lonzo says on the show. He eventually continues to say, “Real hip-hop is Migos and Future.” This caused quite a stir among old and young fans, and even elicited a clapback from Nas’ manager. See those tweets below.

Like Lil Xan’s disparaging comments towards 2pac, this brought into discussion the changing norms and identity of hip-hop as it stands today. As today’s hip-hop landscape is characterized by social media clout, overnight fame and hit SoundCloud singles, much of what older generations consider to be classic hip-hop is irrelevant for the youth that is now drawn to a vastly different genre than its predecessor. Radio is no longer the driving force it used to be, physical forms of music such as CDs and cassette tapes have become obsolete, and lyricism has become overshadowed by an emphasis on vocal aesthetics and production.

What Nas seems to be calling for is not for the game to do a 180, but perhaps a future in which the OGs of hip-hop are valued as contributors that can help create synergy and balance in music as the culture develops. That very synergy can be heard in “Walk Thru”, in which Nas brings his storytelling bars and old school cadence over Future and DJ Esco’s new wave sound. Listen to the track below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!