What's hue? What's man? What's human?
Hue is another way of saying color. Nas cleverly dissects the word “human” asking what is the importance of skin color? What makes someone a man? What makes someone a human?
Nas uses some wordplay here to point to issues in global and racial politics, which by his line of questioning, he suggests are inextricably linked. He first questions “hue” (phonetically, half of “human”) which in the context of the song probably refers to skin color, or race. The question, what does one’s hue, skin color, have to do with the way things play out in the world, is to be pondered
Next, he asks what is man (phonetically, second half of “human”)? Which is quite philosophical, who is to interpret manhood, what makes a man, etc.
Lastly, he asks “what’s human?” As the phonetic sounds of “hue” and “man” are combined in this single word with its own significance, Nas has artfully suggested that concepts of both race (skin color) and manhood (biological sex, success, perhaps) affect our perception of what is “human,” what it means to be a hominid on this earth. The open question “what’s human?” also leaves room for other answers outside of concepts of race and manhood, but Nas' opinion about the link between the three concepts is illustrated by his line of questioning.
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