by Catherine Donaldson-Evans
NEW YORK — A popular rap star’s shocking claim before a Big Apple audience that his next album will be titled “Nigga” was emphatically denied Tuesday by his record label.
Not only does the rapper known as Nas not have an album called “Nigga” coming out in December, as he told a concert crowd on Friday, but he apparently has no album coming out in December at all.
“There is no album release by Nas on the release schedule at this point,” a source close to Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid told FOXNews.com.
“And they would be unlikely to release an album with that title. How would that look at Wal-Mart?”
But there’s no doubt that Nas made the claim — which set the hip-hop community abuzz this week — during a Friday night performance at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. The rapper’s “Greatest Hits” album is set to hit music store shelves in early November.
Nas — whose hits include “One Love” and “Hate Me Now” — told the crowd that he actually wanted to call his last record “Nigga,” but Def Jam wouldn’t hear of it, and made him change the name to “Hip Hop Is Dead.”
The rapper laced his between-song shout-outs with the N-word, which he frequently used to address his fans at the New York show, the last stop on the Sneaker Pimps tour (a promotional tour for the sneaker industry, as the name implies).
“Power to the people. Power to the real people!” Nas yelled to the cheering crowd, raising one arm triumphantly in the air. “This is our m—f— world. We’re going to do it our m—f— way. … Put your fist like this: real niggas only!”
The inflammatory word pops up throughout Nas’ rap lyrics, sometimes written in the plural with a “z” on the end.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson denounced the rapper’s remarks about his desired album title.
“The title using the ‘N’ word is morally offensive and socially distasteful,” Jackson said in a statement. “Nas has the right to degrade and denigrate in the name of free speech, but there is no honor in it.
“Radio and television stations have no obligation to play it and self-respecting people have no obligation to buy it. I wish he would use his talents to lift up and inspire, not degrade, making mockery of racism.”
The NAACP this week also threw up its hands at the news of Nas’ claim, saying the idea showed a lack of creativity and was only perpetuating toxic terminology.
“We will not support and we will not continually be assailed by other individuals who want to use that type of term in our presence,” said national NAACP spokesman Richard McIntire. “This has gone on long enough.”
McIntire said the absence of such racial slurs characterizes the “real history of rap,” a genre of music in which rhyming words are spoken, not sung.
“The NAACP believes in free speech. We are not a censorship organization,” said Vic Bulluck, executive director of the organization’s Hollywood bureau. “But we think [the N-word] is pejorative, no matter who uses it — even if it’s to sell records. It shows a real lack of creative imagination.”
Even Don Imus’ camp weighed in, amid the controversy surrounding the shock jock’s anticipated return to the airwaves in December, six months after he was fired for calling members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” on the air.
In a rather surprising meeting of the minds, Imus’ lawyer gave the thumbs-up to Nas’ proposed record title.
“It’s a good thing,” Martin Garbus wrote in an e-mail to FOXNews.com. “Words like that should be deprived of their meanings, and then they can’t hurt.”
Several prominent members of the African-American community who have been vocal throughout the Imus scandal, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey, were unavailable for comment on Nas’ remarks.