Rap veteran Pharoahe Monch recently gave his two cents on the controversial use of “n*gga” in free speech and why various races should have a debate on the topic.
From Monch’s perspective, unless the term’s origins are completely understood, people should refrain from saying it.
“If you’re using a word and can’t define its origin, where it came from, why it started, or elaborate on it before you choose to say, ‘I’m using it in this manner,’ then I feel like it’s an ignorance issue,” Monch said in an interview. “It passes on to generations of kids — I feel like they’re using it in an ignorant sense. But if you know all these things, then I feel you have the right to use it endearingly and anthemically in songs – or even disrespectfully…I think it’s one of the most amazing conversations of modern times, I think that the word is very layered and not black and white, no pun intended. It’s not a casual dismissive conversation and I think everyone’s input on it is necessary.” (Bold As Love)
In the spring, former Little Brother member Phonte gave his input on the controversial expression.
“For me, it’s all about context,” Phonte told Peter Rosenberg. “I see both sides of the argument and the best I can describe it is, I can call my kids stupid but you better not call my kids stupid. You know what I’m saying? That’s really the only logical explanation I can have. True, I shouldn’t, as a parent, be able to call my kid stupid. That’s a destructive word. But n*gga, if you’re acting stupid, don’t say it. But if someone else says it, then nah n*gga, them fighting words. We stepping outside. But for me, it’s just a context thing. I feel we as artists, we can’t walk both sides of it. We can’t make a song, ‘Live N*gga Rap,’ ‘N*gga, N*gga, N*gga,’ — if you’re in a crowd and you say, ‘I’m the greatest n*gga,’ and you expect all the people to respond back, to indeed affirm that you are the greatest n*gga, I hope everybody would say it. That’s just me. It’s hip-hop, we know. To me, man, it’s not as big a deal. It’s very contextual. If a white dude came to me like, ‘Te, I love you, you my n*gga,’ I would probably laugh more than anything else.” (92 Q Tribeca)
Last year, white rapper Yelawolf asked his fans to stop using the n-word.
“Be respectful and don’t drop the N-Bomb,” Yela added. “White boys out there dropping the N-Bomb, stop, please. You’ll never, ever, ever be able to say it. It’s never going to be cool, just stop. Don’t drop it in your music, don’t drop it around people, don’t drop it to me on Twitter. I see those white boys on Twitter dropping the N-Bomb on me and I’m like, ‘Dude? I’m not even gonna respond to you.’ Like, chill out. You’re never that cool.” (XXL Mag)
After white female rapper Kreayshawn said she uses the n-word in free speech, West Coast rapper Mistah F.A.B. came forward and defended her.
“I just wanna say some sh*t to everybody that’s talking about why is Kreayshawn and V-Nasty, the White Girl Mob, saying the word n*gga and all that sh*t,” Mistah F.A.B. said in an interview. “First of all, you motherf*ckers need to wake up. It’s 2011. Nobody gives a f*ck about that sh*t no more. We grew up in the same communities, same neighborhoods. It’s not the same as how people once looked at it. You want to stand up for a cause like that? You’ll let somebody from your own race disrespect you all day, then soon as someone from outside your race — you want to turn into Malcolm X or Martin Luther King.” (We The West)
Check out Pharoahe Monch’s interview below: