Kreayshawn and V-Nasty are Oakland, Calif.-based rappers who represent a group called the White Girl Mob. Kreayshawn recently signed a record deal with Columbia Records and has a hit single titled “Gucci Gucci.” But unlike other popular white rappers who refrain from using the N-word, Kreayshawn and V-Nasty use the word loosely in their raps and on viral videos that showcase their life behind the scenes.
Keayshawn defended her use of the N-word by claiming that it’s become slang for those in low- income environments. “In Oakland, Asian people will call Mexicans the [N-word].” Kreayshawn said. “A Mexican will call a black dude that. A white person will call an Asian that. Everyone calls each other that. I feel like that word is used in the low-income community more than anything. I can see if I was some rich crazy trick and I was just saying this because it’s hip-hop. I was raised around this. But personally, I’m not flaunting it around.”
Bay Area rapper Mistah Fab defended the White Girl Mob’s use of the N-word. “This is 2011 and it’s not the same. You’ll let someone in your own race disrespect you all day, but when someone from outside of the race says it, you want to turn into Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King,” he said.
But while Mistah Fab stands behind the White Girl Mob, other rappers are less forgiving. David Banner warns white people to never use the N-word around him. “No white person should ever call me a n***a,” Banner says. “I don’t care who you are. My best friend could be white, but he should never feel comfortable enough to call me a n***a. Now that I’m getting older, I feel a certain way about black people calling me n***a. A lot of rappers don’t want to talk about this. but now that I’ve got a chance to travel and go overseas, I don’t feel comfortable with black people calling me n***a.”
As a life long fan of hip-hop, it’s easy to understand how the use of the N-word became common for rappers. Similar to how griots would tell stories in West Africa hundreds of years ago, the music began as way for rappers to communicate their experiences to others in their community.
However, the commodification of hip-hop allowed the voices of rappers to inspire other cultures and, in turn, create profit and intrigue. Rappers have used the N-word liberally since the early ’90s and the beginning success of West Coast hip-hop. Although many rappers claim that using the N-word in music takes away from the pain associated with the word, it remains highly offensive. When taking out the entertainment value of some hip-hop, the content endorses negative thoughts and imagery of blacks that has become mainstream due to pop culture.
Imagine being the only black person in a room filled with white people and individuals of other races while Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane’s “Steady Mobbin” is being blasted from the speakers. The N-word being thrown around carelessly by Lil Wayne who raps, “F**k these N***as, I’m gon spare everything but these N***as, I flip the gun and gun butt these N***as, Take the knife off the AK and gut these N***as.”
Of course, it’s just a song. But when you are the only black person in a roomful of white people who are jovially chanting those words, it can be a bit uncomfortable and sad. In fact, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a racist to use words similar to Lil Wayne’s in order to incite violence against blacks.
Kreayshawn and V-Nasty are both uneducated young women who may not understand how the N-word was historically used by whites who degraded, lynched and set up laws to destroy black lives. On the other hand, their use of the N-word is a way for them to vividly show black rappers the negative impact of using a derogatory term while on the powerful platform of hip-hop.
Should white rappers not be allowed to use the N-word, or is the meaning no longer relevant? –amir shaw
Video of V-Nasty rapping and using the N-word.
Amir Shaw is the sports and music director for rolling out magazine. He is also the author of the young adult novel, 23.