Renowned New York rapper Talib Kweli is the latest hip-hop artist to offer a take on the controversy surrounding director Quentin Tartantino‘s new Django Unchained flick’s usage of the N-word.
Although Kweli fully embraced the new flick, he did understand director Spike Lee‘s issues with it.
“I liked it a lot, it was thorougly, thoroughly entertaining,” Kweli said in an interview referring to Tarantino’s latest flick. “[Offended by it?] Nah. I’m a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I’m a student of his films. I know what I’ma get when I go see his films. Slavery was the real backdrop of the story and I think that’s where the real debate lies. Slavery should be the backdrop, whether or not you should use the Spaghetti Western format to tell the story that involves slavery but once you get past that argument, it was a great story. It wasn’t no Pulp Fiction, but it was real good. … I don’t think [the N-word usage] was an issue with Django Unchained. Clearly it is of the time, clearly the N-word was a word that was used way more times than a hundred times. … The word ‘N*gga’ in the movie Django Unchained was perfect — when you’re having arguments and people are weighing in on social networks, what the actual argument is gets lost. Spike Lee, even though he’s had problems in the past with Quentin using the word ‘N*gga’ in his films, in Reservoir Dogs, in Pulp Fiction, that was never his issue with this film. He never said, ‘My issue is…’ People assumed that was his issue. His issue was, ‘Slavery was, to my ancestors, such an important topic that if you’re going to make a film about it, it needs to be treated as serious subject matter.” (Hot 97)
This week, fellow New York native Nas stepped up to address the debate.
“I didn’t see what the big fuss was about,” he said matter-of-factly, pointing out that the term worked in the context of a Spaghetti Western revisiting the horrors of slavery, from a director known for his “language” and “goriness.” “It’s a movie, movies by [Tarantino], why should we be surprised if the movie is raw? … He’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation, and we don’t go there to see anything less than rawness. He’s an artist, and artists have to express themselves.” (MTV)
Recently, Chicago rapper Rhymefest chopped it up with SOHH and weighed in on the controversy.
“I think that sometimes you got to know when you’ve won. And I think Spike Lee won but he’s ruining his win. Now he’s putting himself in a position where he’s going to have to win again. Furthermore, make some good a** movies and show “us” how it’s done. I’m going to tell you something. I don’t think black filmmakers can make good movies about slavery. I don’t think it’s possible. I think we’re too close to it. You can. A lot of people are going to hate that. Some subjects, as black people, we get so emotional about things that we don’t think about the artistic entertainment value of it as well as the historic accuracy of it.” (SOHH Guest Star)
2 Live Crew’s Uncle Luke publicly blasted Lee for his stance on the movie with an open blog post this week.
“Screw Spike Lee. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is a brilliant flick that more accurately depicts the African American experience than any of the 15 movies about black culture Lee’s directed in his lifetime. It’s why the movie took home a Golden Globe award for best screenplay over the weekend and why it was recently nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Since Django Unchained hit the theaters, Lee has been publicly trashing Tarantino. In announcing his personal boycott of the movie, the Do The Right Thing filmmaker tweeted, “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western,” and “It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.” (Miami New Times)
Check out Talib Kweli’s interview: