NAS vs. Nas

Peter Wood

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is sometimes confused with the hip hop artist and actor, Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, widely known as Nas. The mistake is understandable.  Here’s how to tell the difference:








Born in Manhattan, represents Western Civilization


Underground Beginnings


Born in Brooklyn, represents Queens

Campus Coalition for Democracy


Original Public Persona


Kid Wave

Journal, Academic Questions, 1987




Album, Illmatic, 1994

With AAUP on academic freedom


Public Feud


With rapper Jay-Z, 2001-2005

For his part in the protests against the Western Culture requirement at Stanford University in 1987


Criticism of Rev. Jesse Jackson


Called him “the biggest player hater,” and said, “His time is up.”

“one of the main advocacy organizations criticizing the liberal professoriate”—Neil Gross; “the finest academic organization in all of America”—Mike Adams




#2 top rap lyricist of all time, according to The Source

“An indispensable voice for academic freedom and careful, thoughtful inquiry in the modern American university.”—Eugene Volokh 





“Nas is definitely one of the best emcees to touch the mic”—The RZA

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on University of Delaware Dorm Indoctrination


Best Collaboration


Raekwon on “Verbal Intercourse”

In 2007, NAS president Steve Balch received the National Humanities Medal from George W. Bush, but NAS criticized Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative and some of his policies on federal loans to college students.


Relationship to Former President George W. Bush


In 2007, Nas called for George W. Bush’s head on a platter at a concert in Toronto: “If I ruled the world, I would give everyone in here George Bush’s head on a silver platter.”

Emphasizes the development of the imagination as part of liberal education. Publishes original poetry, art, and music criticism in Academic Questions.


The Arts


“I fell in love with all that poetry; I mastered that. Cutting school with Preme team, the fat cat was at.”—

lyrics to “The Don”

“NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by our commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share our commitment to these broad principles.”



Coming Together


“My folk against your folk, but we all kinfolk.” – lyrics to “Get Down”


1999, The Fraser Barron Scholarship in Renaissance History




2013, Harvard established the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship

What Does Bowdoin Teach?


Biggest Hit


“If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)”

“We stand for reasoned scholarship in a free society.”


Classic line


“A thug changes, love changes, and best friends become strangers.  Word up.”— lyrics to “If I Ruled the World”

“We’re proud that the enemies of free inquiry on campus detest us.” – Peter Wood


Response to Haters


“If you wanna hate me then hate me.”

Image: "Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - Hovefestivalen 2010" by NRK P3 // CC BY-SA

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