Kendrick Lamar Checks A Fan For Saying The N-Word While Rapping His Song (Video)
Biggie Smalls would have turned 46 years old today (May 21). Back in 1994, The Notorious B.I.G. released his first Ready To Die single, “Juicy.” It eventually traveled to #27 on the charts. The gold-certified solo breakthrough record remains one of the most beloved, far-reaching Rap songs of the last 25 years. An incredible songwriter, Christopher Wallace put a choral stamp on the hit that involved everyone—almost. After Total sings a chorus, Biggie adds in a chant, “and if ya’ don’t know, now ya’ know, ni**a!” Thematically and musically, the Bad Boy classic is infectious—proven in how well it has aged with audiences. However, attend any concert or party where that song plays, and you will almost certainly hear a drop-off in the sing-along voices before Biggie’s last word in the chorus.
The N-word is exclusive. Hatred and history made it so in a way that likely can never be undone, as it applies to the white community. It is not available to everybody, at least without consequences. Blacks and other communities of color have taken the word from oppressors and re-purposed it in a spectrum of ways. In Hip-Hop, from N.W.A. to “Ni**as In Paris” to Nas’ intended 2008 album title, it has become a sticking point and part of the global Rap lexicon. While Hip-Hop is often harmonious, there are lines in that balance, and they need to be respected.
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Kendrick Lamar is definitively one of Hip-Hop’s leaders. He uses the N-word in his lyrics, while also promoting messages of multiculturalism, diversity, and peace. He uses the n-word specifically and deliberately. Last night (May 20), Lamar headlined the last night of the three-day Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
In a video posted by a concert attendee, Kendrick invited an audience member on stage to join him in a song. A woman named Delaney joined the Compton, California MC in performing beloved 2012 cut, “M.A.D.D. City.” As the opening chorus kicks in, Delaney includes the “my ni**a” multiple times and with enthusiasm, just as Kenny rapped in the original song. The crowd, which by the video appears to be predominantly white, audibly gasps as she raps the MC Eiht-assisted song feet away from Kendrick Lamar.
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After she persists, K-Dot puts a hand on his head and asks the DJ to kill the music. “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” he calls. Delaney replies, “Am I not cool enough for you? What’s up, bro?”
Kendrick mentions knowing “the rules.” He specifies, “You gotta bleep one single word, though.” “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I do it?” Delaney asks. Kendrick confirms. “Oh my god. I’m so sorry,” she states. Kendrick asks the crowd if she should be allowed to stay on stage and try again. He decides yes, and the song re-plays as she apologizes one more time.
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Last year, best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates lectured on the subject of words and privilege at a Family Action Network event with Evanston Township High School.
“The question one must ask is why so many white people have difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact to Black people,” Coates said in November. He compared it to his abstaining from using the word “b*tch,” which some women in his life use. He also likened it to the term “white trash,” which he believes is wrong for him to say, while white friends use it freely. “And I think I know why.” The former journalist and avid Hip-Hop supporter continued, “For white people, I think the experience of being a Hip-Hop fan and not being able to use the word ‘ni**a’ will be very insightful…This will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be Black. Because to be Black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do.”
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Earlier this year, Donald Glover revealed that a television executive told him he should not use the n-word in Atlanta, ahead of its first season of production. “I’m Black, making a very Black show, and they’re telling me I can’t use the N-word! Only in a world run by white people would that happen,” Glover told The New Yorker in a March feature.
Like Coates and Glover, Kendrick Lamar taught a valuable, public lesson to one fan of Rap and all those paying attention.