Remember a couple weeks ago when we were all confused by what Nas meant when he sent out a tweet calling feminism “the woman’s mafia”? No? Was I the only one confused?
Anyway, last week, Nas clarified his tweet in a conversation at Georgetown University with Michael Eric Dyson. He responds to the question from an audience member and self-identified feminist at about the 49 minute mark:
“I don’t like extremists — not that feminists are extremists. When I said that’s the ‘woman’s mafia’… everybody needs an army. Every organization, group, it’s going to get grimy and bloody at some point, and everybody needs a mafia. I heard there was a lot of people that wanted to know what I meant by that, but it was simple hip-hop jargon. When we say mafia, that’s a good thing…. So when we say it’s ‘the woman’s mafia,’ to me that’s like ‘right on.’ A lot of people didn’t understand what I meant, ya know. I was kinda saying, everyone needs an army, and I meant it in a positive way. I’m sure there are feminists I don’t really agree with, because it seems like there’s layers… But women who don’t get a fair share, in the corporate, in many worlds — in the court system, with rape alone, ya know, how much you have to go through to prove that you actually were raped — is a shame. So, I don’t like mistreatment of women. You know what I mean, I have a daughter. And if you guys gotta squad up, squad up.”
Well, OK. Nas supports feminism. I underestimated him. I suppose there’s hope for personal/political growth for men who once rapped about how women will claim they were raped by famous men as a means of extortion. My bad, Nas.
Also, Alexandra tried to convince me that’s what he meant. Lesson learned: always listen to Alexandra.
Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute.