DEAR NAS, I Didn’t Commit Suicide. Thank You (An Open Letter From LISA FORD)

Dear NAS,

I would be dead if it weren’t for you. But you gave me One Mic and I pulled through. I slit both of my wrists a while back but it didn’t cut deep enough. I swallowed those pills but I threw them back up.
What Hip Hop means to us Hip Hop heads is an escape from our painful existence. We, the ghetto youth, were born bliss to the troubles that lied ahead for us unknowing that we would be punched and kicked hard down flights of stairs the moment we attempted spread our wings to fly. Hip Hop always answered the question: Why do they hate us so much? What did we ever do to be disenfranchised? Why do they want to cage our souls?

Then YOU responded with, “Whose World Is This?” Then you answered The World Is Yours. And we felt it in our hearts that the world was ours, even when they wouldn’t let us go free. Even when some of our own tried to weigh us down and clip our wings and tell us weren’t not good enough. But look at we created. Look at what YOU created. We created our own salvation to our souls. We created HIP HOP.

For all of those reading this letter, answer this…who would be dead now if it weren’t for Hip Hop? If NAS’ If I Ruled The World wasn’t pumping through your speakers? As we listened to you NAS, we wondered, where did you come from? As we watched you NAS, it was like looking in the mirror seeing ourselves and realizing our struggles were your struggles. It took the genre of Hip Hop to bring us all together and to let us all know that we were not alone, and we’re still not alone. I’m not the only one forgotten in the ghetto. I’m not the only fatherless child. I’m not the only one being bounced around from home to home because my mom is young and on her own and not equipped to care for me.

But “I Know I can, I Know I can be what I want to be.” NAS said, “If I worked hard enough, I CAN be what I want to be.” For all of you still reading this, raise your hand if this song saved your life. Raise your hand if Hip Hop blasting through your headphones kept you out of jail, kept you from robbing your neighbor, kept you from prostituting yourself, kept you from dropping out of school, made you go back home after you ran away. And raise your hand if you still have that original Illmatic cd even though it drops again in 2014.

And guess what? Rap God, NAS is still here. 20 years later, NAS is still here telling us his Queen’s Story and the worries he have about his own Daughters. NAS is still here. NAS is still here.  Illmatic is being re-released and we can see NAS on his TV show called ‘Street Dreams’. Who would have thought so many years ago that we would see on one our own in the movies, in ‘Belly’ and featured in the documentary, Time Is Illmatic. I’m glad I lived to see it. Thank you Hip Hop for keeping me here because Time Is Illmatic. Time Is Illmatic. Word up.

Now give NAS the Grammy. Give NAS the Grammy if you care at all about little girls like me who grew up into a successful entrepreneur, college graduate, and intellectual even though I became a single mom like my mom, even though I grew up in Southwest Detroit, even though I ran the streets at thirteen, at fourteen, at fifteen, at sixteen, arrested at seventeen, and pregnant at eighteen.

But I didn’t die. I’m still here. I’m Stillmatic. The ghetto tried to trap me but I survived. I survived. I was saved by God’s Son, by Nastradamus, by NAS’ Untitled album, by Stillmatic, by I Am, by It Was Written by Illmatic, and by Life Is Good because LIFE IS GOOD now that NAS is still here, now that I AM still here. Hip Hop saved my life.

So thank you NAS for making albums for us lovers of 90’s rap because you know it’s our music that pumps the blood in our veins. Thank you NAS for revitalizing us time and time again with your dope New York bangers. Our culture of Hip Hop thrives because of you.

Lisa Ford


nas illmatic4 Illmatic XX on 4/15/14!!! Pre-order here:

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