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Over 2 million Americans are currently incarcerated in the country's prison system: 70% of them are illiterate, 40% are black and almost all of them are poor. Earlier this month, Nas met with legendary civil rights activist Angela Davis at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania to discuss the current state of the prison system, how people end up behind bars and the inequality that drives them there.
Skip to 33:30 for the discussion:
It's enlightening, mind-expanding stuff, with both Nas and Davis confessing their admiration and respect for each other (Nas even calls her his "hero"). Moderated by James Peterson, the university’s Director of Africana Studies, the talk is called "Mass Incarceration: The Prison Industrial Complex". We'd retitle it "Essential Shit You Need To Listen To".
"We grew up in a war," Nas says. "We knew we had to get it all, now. We didn't know what it was, but we had to get it."
Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Nas' seminal record Illmatic, and a deluxe edition of the record with extra tracks is set to be released to commemorate the occasion.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot