Rapper Nas poses at the ‘New Years Eve Kick Off’ at Tao Nightclub at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (December 28, 2012)

*In 2007, Nas set off a firestorm of criticism when he announced to a stunned Roseland Ballroom that his ninth studio album would be titled “Nig**r.” So who better than the Queensridge rapper to join the debate against Quentin Tarantino’s use of the word in “Django Unchained.”

Nas told MTV that he’d not only seen the Jamie Foxx film, but that he couldn’t really see why some critics were tripping.

“I didn’t see what the big fuss was about,” he said matter-of-factly, pointing out that the term worked in the context of a Spaghetti Western revisiting the horrors of slavery, from a director known for his “language” and “goriness.” “It’s a movie, movies by [Tarantino], why should we be surprised if the movie is raw?”

Nas got in the ring with everyone from his label to Fox News to the NAACP before tossing the polarizing album name. But 2008’s “Untitled” was still provocative, sharing some of the grisly imagery of “Django” by showing Nas’ back crisscrossed with lash marks on the album cover. With a résumé like that, the Grammy nominee, maybe unsurprisingly, had high praise and a fierce defense for Tarantino.

“He’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation, and we don’t go there to see anything less than rawness,” Nas said before adding, “He’s an artist, and artists have to express themselves.”