White Rappers & The N-Word Conundrum: 4 Case Studies

"You're talking to the wrong white man, my friend. My people were the white man's nigger when yours were still painting their faces and chasing zebras."

- Herman 'Hesh' Rabkin (Jerry Adler), The Sopranos

Young Black Teenagers - 1991 june16.jpg
Yes, that was their name.
Freshman year of college. One of my good friends was a white kid who loved Jay-Z like crazy. He knew every song, owned every album, and once built an academic thesis around a Jay-Z quote. So, one day we're sitting in his red Ford jamming The Blueprint for absolutely no reason other than we just wanted to sit in the parking lot and jam The Blueprint.

Like I said, this guy adored Jay-Z. Anyway, "Takeover" comes on and we're both rapping along. The Jay-Z vs. Nas beef is arguably the greatest battle in rap history. The genius of that beef was that both MCs started out with jabs and gradually progressed to haymakers. Jay teased Nas on the original version of "Takeover." Nas teased back on the "Stillmatic" freestyle. Then the body shots started pouring in.

Anyway, we're sitting in this guy's red truck outside the parking lot bumping "Takeover." Jay starts off shouting out his weed carriers: "Memphis Bleek, we runnin this rap shit/ B. Mac, we runnin this rap shit/ Freeway, we run this rap shit..." We're both rapping along to every word, heads bobbing. Once Jay is done saluting everyone who's allegedly running this rap shit, he dives into the first verse, starting with the usual chest-thumping:

"The takeover, the break's over, nigga."

jay-z-blueprint-cover june16.jpg
I'm not sure how I heard it over those ear-splittingly loud speakers, but I somehow heard my boy drop the N-bomb. The record immediately came to a screeching halt in my mind. The look on my face was not a look of disappointment. I wasn't angry. In fact, I'm not even sure I cared.

The look was more like he had come to my house and peed on my carpet. It just didn't sound right, and my expression immediately communicated this. I can't even tell you why, but it just didn't feel right. Obviously, the racial slur has a painful history and still spells hatred for the African-American community today.

But that's not why it bothered me. I mean, this guy didn't even say "nigger," he said "nigga." I just remember feeling utterly disrespected, even though I had clearly said "nigga" a la Jay-Z on "Takeover." My boy saw the look on my face and promptly apologized for dropping the N-bomb. Then, I felt bad for feeling disrespected.

When it comes to the N-word, context is everything. But even that can be tricky. To some, it's a term of endearment. To others, it still conjures images of people dangling from ropes. The word will never be 100 percent acceptable, not even among black folk. Nas already tried that. Ehnn... didn't happen.

It's a complete no-no among white rappers, but that hasn't stopped a few from dropping it anyway. Here's a few white rappers who found themselves in hot water for dropping the N-bomb.

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16 comments
PartyAllNight
PartyAllNight

"Everybody wants to be a ni**a ,but nobody wants to be a ni**a.  It's niice when album sales are up but seriously when the guns are on click clack....you're back in the burbs hiding. 

C
C

gotta love how Marshall always gets the pass like "oh he was young and stupid so it's ok". uh.....why? i mean i get why white people forgive him because he's their great white hope, but the rest of hip hop just lets that slide by without caring at all.

ain't no reason for a white person to say it, and I think it was Chris Rock that addressed the situation by noting that white people have every other privilege in the entire world so what difference does it make if ONE WORD is off limits?

and white people saying to "get over it" only further proves their ignorance. just because "slavery" isn't on the law books anymore doesn't mean there isn't modern day slavery and it doesn't mean that black people aren't still oppressed. so long as white privilege exists, that word won't be acceptable for white people to say.

ari d
ari d

ive been using the word on a reg basis since i was a kid...i'm hispanic. i feel comfortable saying it anywhere to whoever..cause i treat it like any other word.  if you get offended by it then it might be time to talk to a professional.  we are all free in this day in age and a word whether it be this one or any other should not hold anyone down anymore. 

this is a never ending discussion because black people feel that they can use it all day long..and no one else can.  that's a little hypocritical if you ask me.  i feel fine cussing at home, work, or in a public place..so i most def don't have a problem using the word at home, work, or in a public place.  and for the record, i have never had a person look at me funny for using it.

our world has bigger issues to worry about than why white people use the word nigga and if it's okay...so let's move the fuck on already.

Mrmagoo
Mrmagoo

This subject is PLAYED out..sorry

MrDazah713
MrDazah713

stupid!!!! dumb ass nigga  its a word everyone says iti greew up saying it, i aint even black. like Game said the wrd nigga is nothing like nigger dont sound shit alike like game like jigga one came before the other. but then again im just a person from the gutter, the real world, others are iignorant to this.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I knew this was coming for a long time. When I heard that hack out of Oakland (and she is most definitely a fucking hack), I knew another discussion on white people saying the n-word was coming. Short answer is hell no. There is no reason for them to say it. I don't care what side of the tracks they come from or how many black friends they have, it's not right. They can't reclaim the word because of the racial history associated with the word. It's just one of those things that people have to get the fuck over, and if a white person really wants to say the n-word, you have to question why they want to say it so badly.Take the Beastie Boys for instance. The n-word has only appeared once in their entire catalogue, and that was from Q-tip. They never had a reason to say it themselves because they are ignorant enough to gloss over the racist history of the word.If that's the one word they can't say, then I say that's a pretty good deal. I believe in freedom of speech, but when you open your mouth to say some straight bullshit, don't be surprised of other people practice their freedom of speech in condemning you.

Dart_Adams
Dart_Adams

Damb. This was SHORT. No mention of Cage using the N word going back to his days as Benz. No mention of Necro using it. No mention of DJ Riz. No mention of the Young Black Teenagers battling Leaders Of The New School (Long Island emcees also brought up originally by Chuck D before signing with Elektra) for the name LONS. The losing squad became known as "Young Black Teenagers". They LOST. Don't forget that they were Bomb Squad artists'. they didn't pick their own crew name...

Don't forget that Dre (among others) called Em "my nigga" on record often. Look, if Busta Rhymes yells @ a 30,000 seat packed arena in Tokyo "WHERE MY REAL HIP HOP NIGGAS AT?" and the entire crowd screams back at him should he feel offended?

One.

H_e_x
H_e_x

First off, not all black people approve of its usage. Don't lump everyone together because that is an ignorant statement. Feel free to say it, but don't be surprised if you get called out on it. Remember, people have a right to speak their mind, and if someone calls you out on it don't get mad because they have a right to say so.

Rizoh
Rizoh

Do you still have a complete set of teeth?

KING
KING

I think you missed the entire point of the article.

ari d
ari d

lol, no reason for me to get offended cause you def understood my point and that's really all that matters.

just to make you happy i'll rephrase my statement..SOME black people get offended when other races use it and then those same black people use it.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I'm guessing his family tree resembles a stump.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I understood you.Some people are ok with it some aren't. That's with just about everything. But when someone gets offended, then you have to wonder why they are offended and why you like the word.

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