When Nas' new album hits July 15, it will carry the moniker of 'Untitled.' But ask him the name of the record and he says, 'The [insert N-word]' album. Whatever title it now goes by, the message is loud and clear he feels. "It was either gonna have the [insert N-word] title or it doesn't have a title and with that it just shows you the castration that goes on still to this day," the rapper told the Boombox at a BMI-sponsored pre-BET Awards lunch. "By me changing it or not titling it, it says more to these kids about what's being hidden, what's being swept under the rug, about truths that are not told, not just about this album, but about rap, life, and racism."

Nas points out both Richard Pryor in the '70s and N.W.A. in the '80s were able to use the term in their titles. So, was he surprised then by the controversy? "The only surprise was not knowing who was going to say what about it, so just to see who had something to say about it," he says. "And it was all good; politicians respond because they have a certain feeling about hip hop in general, about the word, and about the tragedy of the African-American holocaust. A lot of people have different feelings about it in general, but for them just to recognize that hip hop, it's so beyond stereotypes, so beyond just trying to put our people down, just trying to get them to understand that was part of my mission also."
One thing that the thought-provoking, outspoken MC is looking for is a dialogue. And he hopes the album generates as much talk as his last record, 'Hip Hop is Dead.' "People still not stopped talking about 'Hip Hop is Dead,' like Nelly's new video says, 'Hip hop ain't dead' at the end. [Lil Wayne's]

album has a record 'Dr. Carter,' where it's like breathing life back into hip hop," he says proudly. "People are still moved by that, it's a people's movement; this record is also a people's movement."

Despite being a lightning rod for conversation and the media with the album title, Nas doesn't think of himself as being an expert on these topics. "Not that Nas is a specialist on race relations. I'm not. I'm not even a specialist on African-American crisis or joys or beauties or history," he says. "I just understand with an opinion."