The Pharoahic image of Nas on his I Am LP cover has received an onslaught of negative criticism in a Dutch art exhibition, with the Queensbridge legend depicted as King Tutankhamun.
The image has been shown in the recently opened Dutch National Museum of Antiquities exhibit “Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk,” which explores the connection between Egyptian culture and Black music. David Cortes’ statue, which is titled “I Am Hip-Hop,” shows Nas as King Tut, sending many critics into a frenzy for daring to depict Egyptians as Black people.
An Egyptian antiquities expert, the museum claimed that it made a “grave mistake by insulting Egyptian civilization by portraying Tutankhamun as Black.”
Museum director Wim Weijland defended the exhibit after receiving an immense amount of criticism, saying that while the Kemet exhibit “does not have an Afrocentric perspective on ancient Egypt,” it does help to “critically examine ideas presented in Black music.”
Weijland said in his statement, “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. 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.”