January 03, 2018

Nas "One Mic" (Vibe Magazine, January 2003)

"A war of words is usually bloodless, but in South Africa, one claimed hundreds of lives. On June 16, 1976, the youth of Soweto township revolted against the white minority government's decree to impose its language, Afrikaans, on the black school system. Children died in a hail of police bullets for the right to use their native language. Nasir Jones, 29, also speaks his mind. And he knows about battles, having spent much of 2001 trading fierce words with Jay-Z in hip-hop's highest profiled lyrical beef in years. But in the best video of 2002, for his song "One Mic," Nas puts aside rap skirmishes to honor life-and-death struggles - against police brutality, poverty in the U.S., and racist oppression in South Africa. Directed by the innovative Chris Robinson, the raw yet elegant video begins on an electric night, with the bright lights of the big city blurring in time to the beat. The camera then cuts to Nas, alone in a barren room. This moment of solitude is Nas distilled: Erase the drama, the diamonds, and the disses, and what you are left with is the essence of an MC - one street poet against the world. As the song crescendos into a pulsating frenzy, Robinson's camera captures, in a powerful documentary style, a sordid scene of police harassment, followed by a climactic re-creation of the 1976 township rebellion. With just one lens, Robinson shows the universality of the fight for justice. And with just one microphone, Nas gives voice to the voiceless."

The full article written in Vibe Magazine, January 2003...