Playboy unveiled its “The Speech Issue” on Monday (Mar. 18), which included a thoughtful conversation between Nas and Travis Scott. During their lengthy conversation, the two discussed the debate regarding hip-hop’s generational gap, politics, and more hot topics.
Scott kicked off the discussion by commending hip-hop veterans on paving the way for younger artists. “The past generation knocked down so many doors where, you know, they were spitting a lot of pain, man,” La Flame said. “They was dealing with a lot of police stuff. We’re still dealing with that now, but it wasn’t so free. Now we got more of a voice at the label.”
Nas appeared to agree with Scott. “Nowadays the pain has changed. We’re after different things. We broke past the barriers,” he added. “We understand what we need to do and we’re in control of what we’re doing, and no one can stop it now. No one can tell us what to do, what we can’t do. Rap music can’t be stopped now.”
The conversation then shifted to politics and an artists’s obligation to speak up about the things they believe in. The “Sicko Mode” rapper reached out for advice, suggesting that he was a little confused on how to tackle such a big topic. “I wouldn’t say I don’t feel compelled to speak on political issues; sometimes you just don’t want to speak too much on stuff you don’t know much about,” Trav explained. “It’s not like I’m not thinking about what’s going on in the world. I’m an expressive artist, but with media and shit, it gets misconstrued.”
Scott previously received backlash for performing at the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show instead of standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. Despite public outrage, Nas asserted that the decision to speak up should always come naturally and not depend on outside opinions. “One thing we can’t allow politics to do is take over our mind and make us fall into their game. What’s going on in the news could consume our lives. If that happens, life doesn’t go on,” the Queens native said in response.
Nas also noted that hip-hop and the “hood” will always serve as a voice for the underrepresented. “Those ‘hoods are always going to yell out and say what’s going on,” he continued. “It’s going to get more fly and futuristic. But the message is always: We want food, shelter, health care and all the things we’re deprived of. We want no police brutality. We want all these things. That’s what hip-hop is talking about.”
Read the conversation in full over at Playboy.