Rhetorical Analysis of “The World is Yours”

 Materials: Official music video of Nas’s “The World is Yours,” slideshow “The World is Yours.” 

The slideshow will give students essential backstory on this video, including the fact that “the world is yours,” is a recurring refrain of Tony Montana, the violent protagonist of the movie Scarface, who was willing to attain power and privilege by any means, and that in the video, when Nas is in the bath with a woman behind him, it’s a recreation of a scene out of Scarface in which Tony Montana is feeling dissatisfied with his lux life.   

Watch official video of “The World is Yours”

Have students make a dialectical notebook out of the quotes that evoke an emotional response or that strike them as important. Have them copy these quotes onto the lefthand side of a piece of paper. Then have them draw a line and write their thoughts, questions, and associations to the right of those quotes. 

Have students share their interpretations, then have them watch the video again. 

This time, have students isolate certain aspects of the video’s visuals to analyze. They can write about them in a separate dialectical notebook or they can use them to add on to what they’ve already written about the song. 

Have students share their interpretations.1

Discussion Questions:  

  1. What do you make of Nas’s contradictions—the expressions of triumph juxtaposed with the expressions of disenfranchisement?
  2. Should we ask different questions when conducting rhetorical analyses of artwork than we ask when analyzing advertisements? Afterall, isn’t art supposed to be more than the sum of its parts?  
  3. Regarding the references Nas makes to the musician T-La Rock and the movie Scarface. Why does he make them? Do they make “The World is Yours” better or worse in your opinion?
  4. How do the references Nas makes to Scarface make his work richer?  

Optional: Have students write back to Nas. How does the song and video make them feel? What do they think of it? Have there been moments in their lives when they felt as though the world was theirs? If so, who were they with and what were they doing? What contributed to that feeling?