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Nas: Def Jam is “a rap label that doesn’t understand rap”

By | Published on Friday 8 October 2010

An email from rap man Nas to his current record label, Universal’s Def Jam, which has been leaked to music industry blog The Lefsetz Letter, has revealed a dispute over the release of the rapper’s new rarities compilation, ‘Lost Tapes 2’, the sequel to ‘Lost Tapes’, which was released by Sony’s Columbia label in 2005.

The email is addressed to LA Reid, Steve Bartels, Steve Gawley, Michael Seltzer, Joseph Borrino and Chris Hicks, with the subject line “PUT MY SHIT OUT!”, and seems to relate to delays in the release of the new rarities record, which was originally planned for a pre-Christmas launch but which is not currently on the Def Jam release schedule.

The source who passed the email onto Bob Lefsetz also claims there have been other issues regarding the compilation album, mainly that Def Jam bosses have refused to accept the release as one of the albums Nas is contractually obliged to deliver to the major as part of his current record contract. Nas also seems to resent that the label is only committing a $200,000 budget to marketing the album. 

In the email, Nas writes: “With all due respect to you all, Nas is NOBODY’s slave. This is not the 1800’s, respect me and I will respect you. I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it … The number problem with Def Jam is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars … you aren’t … not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job”.

He continues: “To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fanbase that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation. ‘Lost Tapes’ is a movement and a very important set up piece for my career as it stands… It’s smart and after five years it’s still ahead of the game. This feels great and you not feeling what I’m feeling is disturbing … stop throwing dog shit on a MAGICAL moment”.

He finishes: “You don’t get another Nas recording that doesn’t count against my deal… PERIOD! Keep your bullshit $200,000.00 fund. Open the REAL budget. This is a New York pioneer’s ALBUM, there ain’t many of us. I am ready to drop in the forth quarter. You don’t even have shit coming out! Stop being your own worst enemy. Let’s get money!”

A rep for Nas confirmed the email’s authenticity to MTV News, saying: “It was a personal e-mail. [The leak] wasn’t planned. It was not meant to be blasted out in the world, but we’re not upset about it”.

Def Jam is yet to respond.