“Black Republican” by Nas (ft. Jay-Z)
A “Black Republican” would be generally defined – as you probably already guessed – as an African-American member of the Republican Party. However, to note, Jay-Z is widely known for identifying with Democrats. It’s safe to presume that Nas, himself being from the ‘hood, is of similar political leanings. So no, this song should not be taken, at all, as the two of them espousing Republicans politically.
Rather, the Republic Party is the side of America’s bipartisan political system which the wealthy are known to relate to (while Democrats are generally categorized as being more of the people).
And of course, the likes of Jigga have no qualms in terms of bragging about his own wealth. So that is the context in which he asserts that he “feel(s) like a Black Republican”. Furthermore, you will see that in the very-next line of the chorus, the rapper clarifies that he is not actually a Republican since he is unable to “turn (his) back on the ‘hood”. This is because the said political party is also stereotyped as not giving a damn about the poor.
He further announces that the idea of him being a “Black Republican”, or let’s say politician in general, is a no-no. This is because he can’t forsake his ‘thuggish’ ways and, at the end of the day, will “probably end up” where he started, as in “back in the ‘hood”.
So all of that is a fancy way of saying that even though the vocalists may be rich, they’re not privy to playing by the established rules.
Now, it has been ascertained that Jay-Z’s verse centers on his relationship with a former friend named DeHaven Irby. More specifically, DeHaven was reportedly Sean’s partner in crime back in the days when Jigga dealt drugs, prior to becoming a music star.
And if taken so, as depicted, the two of them proceeded to make so much money while in their mid-to-late teens. This success inevitably gave birth to certain vices – “jealousy, ego and pride”. Sadly these vices eventually created a beef between them.
Jigga concludes the verse by more or less lamenting how that situation turned out. But perhaps it should be noted for the record that DeHaven himself has stated that this is an embellished account of what transpired.
According to DeHaven, Carter was actually a low-level dealer who did something behind his back that proved, as far as the street life is concerned, unforgivable.
But that said, we already know from past encounters with Carter’s artistry that he has a tendency to sensationalize the life of a street hustler.
Could that Person be Nas?
Of further interest to note, as pointed out later in the article, is that at the time this song was dropped, Jay-Z and Nas had just made peace after a years’ long and highly-publicized beef.
It is well known amongst 1990s’ hip-hop fans that the two rappers didn’t grow up together. By virtue of this, Nas cannot be the person Jigga is referring to in the verse. However, it is quite telling that Jigga still used this opportunity to bemoan a friendship gone astray, due once again to “jealously, ego and pride”.
The three aforementioned factors are by and large what led to him and Nas going at it.
So if nothing else, it’s clear that Jigga is not in confrontational or straight-up braggadocio mode on this occasion. He has rather adopted a more reflective, down-to-earth disposition.
Can’t abandon the Hood
Meanwhile, it can be said that Nas’s verse is more inline with the chorus. Here, we find the rapper depicting himself as someone who gained wealth yet very much remained aligned with the ‘hood. He insinuates that his story is the manifestation of the dreams of many a young man from the ghetto, and let’s just say that Jones hasn’t forgotten his roots.
So like his co-star he may also fall under the category of Black “Republican” – if not for the fact that you can take a man out the ‘hood but not vice versa. Thus, people like him and Jigga are more inclined to ‘take over the government’ than become a formal part of it.
When was “Black Republican” released?
December 19th, 2006 is release date of “Black Republican”.
It is part of Nas’ album “Hip Hop Is Dead”. Interesting to note is that the song actually leaked about a month before its official release.
“Black Republican” is notable for being the first official collaboration between Nas and Jay-Z. By that time, both rappers had already cemented their status as legendary NYC rappers.
About five years prior to this dropping, the hip-hop community witnessed a pretty-ugly back and forth between the two titans. However, said beef was squashed in late 2005, and the two have teamed up a number of times since. Other notable collaborations between the two include:
- “I Do It for Hip-Hop”
- “Analyze This”
- “Sorry Not Sorry”
Credits for “Black Republican”
The heavy-handed instrumental to this track actually samples a song from The Godfather II (1974) soundtrack, Marcia Religiosa, as rendered by Italian composer Nino Rota (1911-1979).
Jay-Z and Nas wrote this song with its producers, L.E.S. and Wyldfyer.
“Black Republican” is a product of Def Jam Records, alongside Columbia Records.