In a society that constantly affirms that we do not matter, with our constant disrespect in the media, politically, institutionally and our literal unaddressed murders, this artist, this song, this line came as a healing balm to remind us of the truth. When this song came out in 94’ the Black world of North America, specifically the East coast was still reeling from the horror of the crack/cocaine 80s and the recent importation of gang culture that was coming from the west. We as a community were not seemingly sure where we were headed, who would take the lead, and what were the lessons of where we had been. Although we still struggle with the knowledge of our past, present and future, songs like this articulated the need to get thinking and envisioning things to in fact prepare us for where we find ourselves in 2015.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones is our Shakespeare, fuck Shakey, he’s our Gilgamesh, John the Conqueror, Stagolee or something! and to link with the self-named, “chocolate boy wonder” (Pete Rock as producer) was a beautiful blend of melanin masculinity. Nas and Pete Rock gave the young Hip Hop world an affirmation to keep tucked or manifested like a precious jewel. In that one simple line our collective consciousness was stirred. Did we not become the generation obsessed with the Illuminati, how to go from Niggers to Gods, and Malcolm, Garvey, Huey? We began to remember or believe what some of our elders and teachers were telling us. That there was a time when we ruled the world and just possibly, if we believe it, we could return to that time.
In the video Hip Hop met Scarface with the World is Yours statue prominent, juxtaposing the criminals (drug dealers) with the new public enemy…..Hip Hop. The Hip Hop world knew once Illmatic dropped in 94 that we were being exposed to a modern day griot and we so needed his words at the time, caught up as many of us were with blunts, fighting, and fuckery. It was a black and white video, taking us through the project halls of Queens Bridge, where Nas grew up to his new life as an upcoming rapper, sipping Dom P, watching Gandhi till im traumed and writing in my book of rhymes all the words past the margins.
Showing us better than he could tell us, that your life, our lives could be transformed if we believed, if we affirmed something new/old. You must believe these affirmations as you sing them aloud to secure their power and fruition, yet it can be difficult to believe that you own or rule the world when you are surrounded by people struggling financially or being harassed by the police.
However with Nas saying the WORLD IS YOURS, and saying it like he meant it, like all our great ones do, with that passion and inflection, it was and still is an empowering line for Black Girls lost like me and my teenage homeboys and girls. For many of us suffering under the institutional racism that is American education, we are inundated with slavery talk and at some point I believe for many African American students there is a kind of depression, frustration, whatever you want to call it, due to the sheer scope and sadness of our predicament/lot. Garvey deported, Malcolm dead, Panthers done and we begin to just want to get by, get high or get over. Nas and other artists of his kind helped to an extent save a generation of children, by planting seeds that would bloom pronouncedly for many of us in our 20s-30s. Because if you review the news and statistics of that time, our post traumatic slave syndrome symptoms were manifesting and many of us were suffering from racial breakdowns.
A racial breakdown is when one suffers from mental, emotional, or physical trauma from a society’s current of past policies and practices regarding race, class, and or gender.
One is hyper sensitive to racial inequalities prevalent in all aspects of Americana. Especially in the youth, who lack the experiences, constraints and discretion of their elders there is a tendency to, “Black out” and act either physically or verbally aggressive to loved one and strangers.
This “blacking out” is due to spiritual/sensory overload partially due to ancestral memory which causes side effects including yet not limited to joining black power movements, making trap music, becoming instagram vixens, producing many children by many women, saying you are no longer Black or African American or going bat shit conscious crazy-and there are many levels to all the crazy.
In the small suburban town I grew up, after we graduated High School, someone of African American descent went literally piece of paper crazy every year until the present, at least one person. Now magnify that across the U.S., add in the high rates of suicide in the Black community as well as the undiagnosed self-medicated crazy that everyone just refers to as “touched” or “special”, “alcoholic” or “moody” and we are at a mental health crisis moment with the roots going back centuries. It is time for healing, it is time to use whatever tools possible to navigate this illmatic-ness, and get some get happy, get free, save yourself kits for you and your loved ones. May these lines find a way to get you out of your bind.
The time is now to remember the affirmations of the past. The time is always to dream big and expansive. To remember that we were never meant to be small, that we are here to let our lights shine and help others do the same.
We must affirm that the world is ours and how many soul singers and rappers have to sing, or rhyme about it before we believe it?! We cannot manifest what we do not believe and last I checked we have been hearing about ruling the world since James Brown (If I ruled the world) to Marvin/Luther (If this world were mine) to Kurtis Blow (repeating JB’s : If I Ruled the World) to RZA (ITS YOURS!). I know the world is mine, not just in a Black history; the Africans did if first line of thinking, but in the sense of that I am a flesh and blood, hue wombman naturally put on the Earth and therefore all things above and below should be mine. Not to simply own like a capitalist but to be one with and thrive like a humanist. The birds, the bees (peace to the bees), the trees, the people, I am yours and you are mine and since this world is mine, I will give you the key. Whose world is it? The world is Yours! Its mines its mines its mine—and yours as well.