Watch: Nas & Michael Eric Dyson Talk Hip-Hop at Georgetown University
“Nas is one of the greatest lyrical geniuses the art form has produced,” says Dyson, who co-edited the 2009 anthology Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic. “He has remained relevant by making music that speaks to the issues he deems important, which happen to reflect, at times, what’s happening in the culture – Is hip-hop dead? What is the role of icons in black culture? What is the significance of a black president?”
Dyson will reflect on Nas’ career and the impact of his acclaimed 1994 debut album Illmatic, which is considered one of the most influential albums in hip-hop history.
“’Illmatic’ has remained a classic for so long because of the issues that it touches upon – loss, misogyny, the drug culture, the underground economy, the prison industrial complex, the geography of black destiny, the politics and burden of representation, the struggle for black self-definition, the function of literacy in the quest for self-awareness and spiritual and moral evolution.”
Moderated by Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and associate professor of English at Lehigh University, An Evening of Conversation with Nas and Michael Eric Dyson will stream live via USTREAM at 8:30pm EST tonight.
The event takes place the evening before Nas’ sold-out performances on March 28th and March 29th at the Kennedy Center’s One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide celebration, which runs through April 13th.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, and Nas celebrating with the release of a new album, Illmatic XX, out April 11th.
His Kennedy Center performance with the National Symphony Orchestra will kick off the tour in support of the new set.
In addition to Born to Use Mics, Dyson has written extensively about Nas, Illmatic and hip-hop culture in general with 2010’s Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop and 2006’s Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur.
He further delves into the art, culture and social impact of rap in his courses, including Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop Culture: Origins, Meanings and Consequences.