“This is an incredible message, to have someone who succeeded so much in their life, but there is still a void.” -- Nas, in a speech to a Boys and Girls club in Pittsburgh the other day

No, the void of which Nas spoke was not the fact that he's yet to craft a worthwhile followup to Illmatic. It's the fact that he never graduated from high school.

I wonder if it really chaps his ass that he never received a high school diploma, or if he was just pretending it did because he thought it would be a good message for today's youth. Obviously, the reason they brought him in was to encourage the kids to stay in school, just say no to drugs, and all of the other shit they try to stress with kids in inner city schools, as if that's gonna help so many of them from becoming part of the still rapidly expanding prison-industrial complex, if they're boys, and/or "the welfare," as Mo'nique calls it, if they're girls.

The guy who put on the presentation may have even pulled Nas aside before it began and gave him his talking points. Otherwise, who knows what Nas might have started talking about? You've heard that dreaded n-word album. And I doubt his mental state has improved any since Kelis somehow managed to take him for more money than anyone even knew he had. This album he's putting out with one of Bob Marley's suspect sons might be worth it just to spend an afternoon playing armchair psychiatrist, similar to how I once spent an afternoon exploring Rick Ross' appreciation of crab meats.

Inviting Nas to speak to a group of high school kids doesn't seem like a very good idea in the first place, except for the fact that kids might actually be willing to listen to Nas. I graduated from both high school and college, but I doubt high school kids would give a shit about anything I'd have to say - especially since I'd be hamstrung in not being able to discuss some of the things that I know high school kids would find particularly relevant, like the sex ed lessons they don't teach you in high school health class, and the Illuminati. (My little brother teaches high school, and he says the Illuminati is all they talk about. No, really.) Plus, I'm not sure if my life would serve as a very effective object lesson in the value of pursuing a higher education. Half the people I work with at the BGM make more money than I do, and I'd be willing to bet at least some of them don't know how to read.

Which brings me back to Nas. I read just now over at AllHipHop that he promised that group of kids that he would pursue his own high school diploma, and it wasn't quite clear to me what he meant by "pursue." I'm hoping he meant that he's looking for an afternoon he can block out to take an exam for a GED, aka a good enough diploma, but who knows? It might mean that he's planning on enrolling in a course to prepare himself for a GED exam, because he's not quite ready for it yet. You never can tell, as far as these rappers' literacy - or lack thereof. Some of them drop a lot of knowledge in their rhymes, but they probably learned it from guys who converted to Islam in prison.

Or could it be that Nas actually plans on getting a real high school diploma? Maybe he plans to actually enroll in a high school - like that time Lil Wayne went to college (probably just to holler at Asian broads, just like that time Rivers Cuomo went to Harvard). Promising a group of high school kids you'll get your GED does seem kinda retarded, in that I'm pretty sure the whole idea of a GED is to certify to potential employers that someone who didn't go to high school isn't so dumb that they might lose a finger operating one of those meat slicers they use at Arby's - which, I'll have you know, they don't just let anyone operate.

Also, did you know that the shit they serve at Arby's isn't really roast beef? That's why you can get five roast beef sandwiches from Arby's for five dollars, when you can hardly get one roast beef sandwich from Lion's Choice for that amount. That's something else I could have told those kids. Is it the most valuable information in the world? No, especially if you don't really fuck with roast beef sandwiches, i.e. if you're a fag. But it's hardly any less valuable than admonishing kids to stay in school, in an age when even black people who are genuinely smart can't find work.