Rapper Nas: 'I'm a Proud American...There Was a Time When I Didn't Feel That Way'

It’s funny how hard-earned success can change even a liberal’s view about the greatness of this country. That’s exactly what happened to rapper Nas as he revealed on Friday's Charlie Rose show: “Where I was once a rebel to America...I love America!”

On to promote the new documentary Time is Illmatic the hip-hop star was asked by Rose “Why do you like America a lot more? Because it accepted you?” Nas responded: “No! I don’t want to feel accepted...I want to earn it.” He then continued to express pride in his country: (video after the jump)

“It feels like this is my soil, this is where I’m from, this is who I am. A proud American. There was a time when I didn’t feel that way.”

Of course, a little later in the interview, Nas kept true to his liberal roots as he praised Henry Louis Gates (He of Beer Summit fame), decried “Stop and Frisk” laws and gave props to Barack Obama.

The following are the relevant exchanges from the May 30 edition of PBS’s Charlie Rose show:

CHARLIE ROSE, holding up Nas’s “Illmatic” album: It’s 20 years, 20 years since you released this.

NAS: Twenty. That’s crazy. It’s crazy.

ROSE: You got two kids now?

NAS: Yes. Son and daughter.

ROSE: How else are you different?

NAS: Well, I’ve always been a calm individual, but I’m a lot more calm, and I’ve changed in ways where I was once a rebel to America, and now I like America a lot more. I love America!

ROSE: Why do you like America a lot more? Because it accepted you?

NAS: No! I don’t want to feel accepted.     

ROSE: You don’t?

NAS: I want to, I want to earn it. I want to, I want to, I’m like everybody else in this world and I just want to be a part of this whole human family and I don’t need to be accepted by anybody. But it’s better for me because now I can see different. I can see why certain things are the way they are, why the system works a certain way, and it doesn’t seem like a beast that I can’t conquer anymore. It feels like this is my soil, this is where I’m from, this is who I am. A proud American. There was a time when I didn’t feel that way.
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ROSE: You, at this Harvard Conference and Skip Gates, Henry Louis Gates said black-Americans are experiencing the best of times and the worst of times. Is that true?

NAS: Yes. Totally. It’s - Skip Gates is someone I look up to and he knows so much about African history, world history, black-American history, so when he says something like that, it’s definitely real, and I see both sides. My friends don’t have - not all my friends have lots of money. A lot of my friends are still from the community that I come from, and with the conditions that we deal with, whether it’s “Stop and Frisk,” whether there are large amounts of people thrown in jail or whatever it is, it’s rough out there. But, yet, still, you have Dr. Dre just sold Beats.

ROSE: Two-billion dollars!

NAS: Three-billion! Three-billion dollars. And we still have President Barack Obama who I’m really proud of. So, yeah, it’s a parallel universe.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.