Former Little Brother members Phonte and 9th Wonder have tackled the controversial issue of using the “N-word”, and discuss why non-minorities should erase the word from their vocabularies.
Considering the phrase as contextual, Phonte analyzed the use of the term.
“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)
While co-signing Phonte’s opinion, Wonder took a stronger position towards the term.
“I’m from the South, bruh, and I know there’s a context to everything but when we’re in the South and you put the ‘-er’ on the end of that thing and you’re not my color, it’s trouble,” 9th said, offering his take. “I don’t give a d*mn about explanation — but I’ve heard stories of record execs [using it] — I’ve heard stories of record execs asking their A&R’s, ‘Okay, we need to sell some records. What are n*ggas into these days?’ … Like Phonte said, there’s no way you can listen to ODB and not rhyme his rhymes.” (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)
In 2008, Dipset’s Jim Jones discussed ending the controversial usage.
“Shouts to all my Obamas, the n*ggas is out, the Obamas is in. The b*tches is out and the Michelles is in. So if you’re lady gets you mad you say, ‘Michelle you betta get out of here before I slap the thunder out of you.’ Nah, let me stop playing but that’s how we doing it this year we tryna switich up the f*cked up language we been saying for the past few years. It’s actually been catching on a little bit I was on the radio yesterday and I heard somebody saying that and I was like, ‘Wow thats be a great thing if we could call each other Obama instead of n*gga.” (SOHH)
Check out Phone & 9th Wonder’s interview below: