The Dishonorable Ones!!!!!!!: How Rap Artists Dishonor The Rich Legacy of Black Music During Black History Month

It seems that in today’s era of identity politics, every month is allocated for some purpose or cause. These ceremonial months are so plentiful that one could very well lose track of them. So I was unsurprised when so many of my family members and friends failed to recognize that June has been denoted as Black Music Month. It is the arrival of Black History Month that forces me to reflect upon the unrivaled legacy of African-American musicality. Such recollections have led me down an unexpected path of reflecting upon the contemporary manifestations of African-American musical contributions.

As with most things, my view of today’s musical traditions is greatly influenced by all the things that I have previously experienced; quite possibly, no greater influence than my rearing in a Baptist Church influences the alluded to view. I remember sitting in my seat at Mount Calvary Baptist Church and hearing Pastor Johnson relate to the congregation that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” This well worn church saying reminded religious adherents to be mindful of the language that they bantered in both the public and private sphere. One was to avoid both cursing and the representation of themselves in a negative manner for the following reason; ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

African-Americans have historically recognized that since our community is inextricably linked with one another that one’s personal situation covered the entire race. As we have repeatedly seen, the actions, or better yet the antics, of one possess the ability to mar and malign the entire race. Hence, one’s public persona, from dress to speech, was a direct reflection of yourself, your family, and the entire race. There was a pride to be found among African-Americans individually and collectively. For African-American males the alluded to pride was expressed through posture, walk, talk, diction, enunciation, academic achievement, professionalism, sense of duty, providing for one’s family, strength, and physical appearance. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color’ or being considered ‘sorry’ regardless of extenuating circumstances.

The above historical realities frame my consideration and evaluation of the contemporary issues that African-American males have not only helped to construct, but ygalso hurriedly rush to fulfill. When considering such matters, I have reverted back to a recording that was released over a year ago by YG. Of course the song that I am referring to is the hit single, “My Nigga”. The alluded to recording is not only disturbing on myriad levels, but also particularly damaging to the image and psyche of African-American males.

Although I find it particularly difficult to believe that there is anyone on the planet who has not heard this recording, in the event that there is such an individual, the words to YG’s recording follow.

My nigga, my nigga
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)

My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga?

The word ‘nigga’ is repeated a shocking thirty-one times. Black America’s soul should be troubled by not only the verbal flurry, but also the fact that it has entered the impressionable minds of droves of youth.

As someone who has loved rap music from the first time that I heard Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message’, I am capitalizing on this acknowledgement of Black Music Month to address YG’s recording, not with a denunciation of it, that is not only easily accomplished, but also predictable, rather I have decided to offer an artistic alternative to a listening audience that desperately gravitates to the concept of being a “N-Word”. Unfortunately, many of these individuals believe that YG’s record, and similar recordings epitomize what rap music and by natural extension the historic tradition of African-American music is.

So, consider this a desperate attempt to fight the blaze of ignorance that YG, Rich Homie Quan, and Jeezy began and Lil Wayne, Nicki wayne 2Minaj, and Meek Mill, fanned with an alternative vision and take upon the N-Wordnigga, and nigger. If this proves insufficient, I would hope that the words of one of their own, Big K.R.I.T., would prove weighty in their reconsideration of their presentation of niggardly behavior as a laudable occupation or goal for those who listen to their music. In his song “Another Naïve Individual Glorrifying Greed & Encouraging Racism

Tell the world
I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Waitin’ with my hands out,
Broke in the hood, they give a damn ’bout
Braggin’ to my homie bout the hoes I fucked
Drinkin’ bottles after bottles, plus I smoke too much.
I never had a job that would pay me well,
I took what I could cause they gave me hell
Spend what I stole on some clothes and kicks,
 
I barely go to church but I say I will,
I bow my head right before I eat my meal
The world’s fucked up and they claimin’ I’m to blame
It’s a damn shame cause
I don’t wanna be another nigga…
 
Waitin’ on a play to come through
Chillin with my homeboys Plottin’ on you
Watchin movies how to come up quickKRIT
Recruiting young niggas I can come up with
Barely read books but they down to shoot
Live life breakin rules, they got something to prove
Parents ain’t around they got nothing to lose
Wave the tool on a fool for some brand new shoes…
 
Always tryna sell you something,
Don’t really know the shit, but tryna tell you something
Tap dance if you want him to
Coulda fed the hungry but he bought them jewels.
Won’t ever look back cause he gotta keep movin’
Even if he leave his own people bamboozled
Takin’ credit like he did it by himself
Too much pride to realize that he really had help…
Tell the government,
I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Tell them white folk,
I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Tell them black folk,
I don’t wanna be another nigga.
Tell the world
I don’t wanna be another nigga,

Maybe, just maybe, YG, Rich Homie Quan, Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and/or Meek Mill will learn something regarding the power of language and come to understand that theirNicki 7 financial wealth is insufficient to hide their intellectual and moral poverty. I am certain that time will impress upon them that no amount of cash is capable of masking such poverty. One of their own, Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, once issued an admonishment that is particularly applicable here when he related, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the entire hip-hop community learns before the power of their words leads to more incarceration, death, and destruction of their own.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.

#ManhoodRaceCulture

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.

4 thoughts on “The Dishonorable Ones!!!!!!!: How Rap Artists Dishonor The Rich Legacy of Black Music During Black History Month”

  1. Why don’t these ‘rapper’s ever use racial slur’s for other races? While they are being so ‘nihilistic’?Continually use the Word’s CRAKKER, WETBAG, YIDS, etc, no! these lame-brain negroes would’nt DARE! Because no 1, they suffer from SELF-HATE & no 2, the corporate SCUM behind them who pull thier strings & put out this CRAP would NOT TOLERATE it! Or even let it happen!

    1. I somewhat agree with what you are stating. However, the primary reason for the lack of other racial derogatory names is not marketable and therefore not profitable. However, there is a Black Nationalist segment of Rap Music that uses such terms to describe whites.

  2. This piece is very insightful. A lot of the African American community embraces the language that is used in the hip hop/gangsta rap today or ever since the “n-word” has started being used. As a avid rap music listener I know that such choice words are inappropriate, but it’s something about vulgar language and the disrespect that really draws you in. But, if it’s not the language or lyrics that draws our attention it’s the amazing acoustics. Nonetheless, as a community of African Americans at some point we should speak up about “n-word” to our fellow brethren and do our best to use it less, because the use of the “n-word” by us teaches other races and even our younger generation that the use of the word is acceptable.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with your position; there is something alluring about such language and whatnot. That is a fine line that no one can walk without eventually falling.

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