Nas‘ career has been full of controversy — from his beef with JAY-Z and Cam’ron to his strong political opinions and naming his ninth studio album N-gger only to have it changed to Untitled — and now the rapper is making waves again for a sculpture created in his honor.
According to reports, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities recently opened an exhibit called “Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk,” which examines the connection between Egyptian culture and Black music.
But what got folks riled up was the David Cortes statue “I Am Hip-Hop,” inspired by Nas’ famous album cover I Am… where he appears as King Tut.
Following the exhibit’s debut, an Egyptian antiquities expert blasted the museum, claiming that it made a “grave mistake” by “insulting Egyptian civilization by portraying Tutankhamun as Black.” The museum also received an onslaught of negative comments on social media.
Director of the museum Wim Weijland has defended the exhibit following complaints in a recent statement.
Weijland noted that while the Kemet exhibit “does not have an Afrocentric perspective on ancient Egypt” but it does help to “critically examine ideas presented in Black music.”
“The exhibition does not claim the ancient Egyptians were Black, but explores music by Black artists who refer to ancient Egypt and Nubia in their work: music videos, covers of record albums, photos, and contemporary artworks,” Weijland began.
“This music often reflects on the Black experience in the West and tells stories about the African diaspora and pre-colonial Africa, including ancient Egypt.”
He added: “The exhibition explains that the representations of ancient Egypt are imaginaries: artistic interpretations of ancient Egypt, not realistic images of ancient Egyptians. For example, the exhibition contains a modern sculpture that represents the musician Nas, modeled after the mask of Tutankhamun. The exhibition explains that it is a contemporary artwork, not a replica. The exhibition explains why and when it was made and clarifies that it is not an ancient Egyptian artifact.”