I got a nigga like a sitting duck.. BOOM

I had an interesting encounter the other evening, while recording in the studio with some white emcees. One of my old friends from high school is now a producer (named, J-La) and he wanted to introduce me to a few of the artists he was working with, who happened fans of Language Arts. I was flattered and agreed to work with them on the strength of my friendship with J. My first mistake was agreeing to work with these people before I had a chance to listen to any of their music. After I laid down a verse on one of J’s beats, he went back and played me the song from the beginning, revealing a verse from one of his boys (we’ll call him “Ken” for anonymity). To my surprise and disgust, Ken said the word “nigga” about two or three times in his verse. As a matter of fact, the title of this post, is a direct quote from the song we recorded, and “boom” is Ken’s last word before I start my verse; as if I’m the nigga in his crosshairs. Thank goodness I have low blood pressure. At the first opportunity, I pulled Ken aside and explained to him that the word “nigga” need not come out of his lips in a song, or under any circumstance. This is where it got interesting. He looked at me as if I were confused and calmly explained that not only did he feel comfortable using the word (implying that he would continue to do so whether I liked it or not), but he actually felt saying “nigga” brought us closer together.

I was initially disturbed by this notion, but after some thought, I could see how he might have reached his conclusion. Here’s a middle class white kid, who grew up listening to Hip-Hop. As a life-long Hip-Hop fan, I can attest to the fact that there are very few emcees who don’t use the term at all. From the highly commercialized emcees like 50 Cent and the Ying Yang Twins to your so-called conscious emcees, Common, Talib and Mos Def, down to the “underground” emcees, such as Immortal Technique – even the Puerto Rican rappers, Fat Joe and the late Big Pun use(d) the word “nigga” profusely as a term of endearment. Should we be surprised that an unsuspecting, ignorant white youth would absorb the term “nigga” as quickly as he would adorn the clothing, music, vernacular and just about everything but the burden? He probably observed black people using the term to refer to each other and through deductive reasoning, concluded that if he wanted to be “closer” to Black people, he should follow their lead. Indeed, Ken argued to me that he was entitled to say the word “nigga,” because of his close relationship with Hip-Hop. How do you respond to that? Where do you even begin?

As an artist, I sometimes feel as if the best way to articulate myself is through music. Instead of giving Ken a long lecture, I shared a verse with him that I had written which was inspiried by our heated conversation. Hopfully this situation can be flipped into something positive. I’m going to share an excerpt from the verse here (it is currently untitled):

I’m a tell you bout a nigga
Nigga’s not a term that you use around me,
don’t know? betta learn
Niggas don’t rap
Niggas just burn when the lynch mob
decides it’s your turn
Niggas don’t think,
Niggas just blink and they life is over
(read entire verse here)

In addition to sharing this verse with young Kenneth, I will direct him here to Blackademics. I am going to show him this post and he is going to read your responses, so please feel free to let me (or him) know how you would have handled the situation, or other relevant insights on the conflict and/or the word, nigga.

UPDATE: Click here to listen to the ridiculous track that started the conflict.

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Published on January 5, 2007 at 9:04 am. 6 Comments.
Filed under art,ignorance,ridiculousness.