Ok so i bought Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” last night and i really enjoyed it. I felt like i was witnessing some kind of Salvadore Dali representation of Compton, California. The cathartic album is a reflection of the psychotic Hip Hop lifestyle that many people aspire to have, a voice for the social and political chaos that is happening within the working class and project inhabitants. One of my favourite songs on the album “Complexion (Zulu Love)” deals with slave-old issues of ‘complexion’ within the black community. The song is a celebration of all skin tones and ethnicity, with a testimony of the detriment of the ‘Dark vs Light Skin’ fad on the black community. I enjoyed listening to the album. I have many rap albums, but the frequently used word, NIGGER, alerted me this time. Had the word become numb to me? Do I even know what it means? One of my earliest experiences with the word, was my father telling me if anybody called me a Nigger, i was to bash them… In so many words. Now I’ve joked with friends with the word, but would take offence if i was called it. Almost like the term has been reclaimed by the black community and can only be exchanged between them.
Here is the meaning and origin of the word: nigger ˈnɪɡə/ noun offensive noun: nigger; plural noun: niggers 1 a contemptuous term for a black person. A brief overview : The noun “nigger” originates from the Spanish noun for Black, Negro. Developed in the 17th century as a contemptuous noun for a black person.
contemptuous kənˈtɛm(p)tjʊəs/ adjective adjective: contemptuous 1 showing contempt; scornful.”she was intolerant and contemptuous of the majority of the human race”
Surely the countless Hip Hop albums and films that have used that word, can’t be referring to that description. The amount of joy that I’ve seen people express by being addressed a Nigger by there counterparts, I’m sure there must be another meaning.
Urban Dictionary: Nigga is a word which evolved from the derogative term “nigger”. Tupac best defined the distinction between the two. NIGGER- a black man with a slavery chain around his neck. NIGGA- a black man with a gold chain on his neck.
To say the least this glamorised term has left me confused. How do I know when to be offended? Some one from another race could be describing me as “a black man with a gold chain on my neck”. What if I’m not wearing a gold chain? if I’m this confused, imagine what other races think. The textbook and social meanings are completely opposite, and the weight and history of the word is too important to have this many blurred lines.Why don’t we use words like King, Queen, Brother, Sister or by each others names!?
This is just one of the words that the Hip Hop culture has glamorised which have a blurred meaning. This culture is locked inside and the rest of the world is baffled. How can you uplift women and tell them to go out and be successful, when you refer to yourself and others as a bitch? How can you encourage men to go to school and teach them good values, when you refer to yourself and others as gangsta? How can you fight prejudice, racism and oppression, when you refer to yourself and others as Nigger/Nigga ?
Personally I’ve always been aware that there are 2 meanings to the noun, but have always used it to mock this ghetto-fabulous culture. In regards to how i use the word in the future, I’ll be aware of the connotation and history of the word. Furthermore, the confusion of aspiration in a culture where negative language is used to uplift the oppressed. Art Is Power !!!!!