Wednesday 20 March 2013

20 White Artists Who Have Said "Nigger" In A Song

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song Quick History Lesson
Ah yes, the n-word. No other unit of expression fascinates me on quite the same level as this one. The main reason is exactly what you'd think it would be: the racial segregation of it all. Black people can say it. White people cannot. But is it ok for us to write it in “inverted commas”? Am I even allowed to write this article? Nobody knows, which is why over the last few years, the word has crawled toward the front of my psyche, encouraging me to take note of it wherever I went - albeit very cautiously, saying it only when I’m alone in my room, rapping along with Jay-Z.

The word itself begins (like so many words), with the Latin “niger”, which simply means “black”. Since then, plenty of variations and alternate spellings have sprung up, but the most notable of them was the Spanish “negro” (which is still used today somewhat), and the American “negar” which was used to describe the African slaves (which is where all this mess started). However, it wasn’t considered all that derogatory back in the day, as it literally meant “black skin” and that isn’t exactly racist, but more of an observation. In fact Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos were all considered “niggurs” at a point too.

But as we all know, by the 1900’s, things had changed. The word turned bad and was considered offensive, being replaced by “coloured” in 1909. In the late 1960’s, “coloured” was considered offensive, being replaced by the word “black”. And then in the 1990’s, “black” was considered offensive, being replaced by the more blanket term “African-American”. All the while, confused whites were just saying “Yes, yes, whatever you want! We’re sorry! We’re sorry!!”

Janthopoyism: Your New Religion

However, it was a bit before then (around the mid-80’s), that the non-standard “nigga” (or “niggah”) became a common phrase within the black community. It was originally coined by comedians, and then quickly leaked into (most notably) the musical genre of hip-hop, which used the word as a term of endearment towards each other. NWA started it, mommy, and then everyone else was fast to follow. This practice has continued right up until modern times, where it has become next to impossible to avoid the once racist slur, casually being uttered by almost every black artist in the game, no matter how hard you try to escape it.

And there is only one rule: White People Cannot Say It. That would be offensive and you might get shot. Some whities have called this “reverse racism”, but me (as a white guy), I say, hey, for decades back there our past generations did kinda rape the black culture as well as their land, all the while selling them off like cattle to the highest bidder. So I think granting them one little word is the very fucking least we could do.

That said, some white artists have said the word, and that’s what this article is about. Here, we find examples of white rappers just trying to fit in with their black homies. We find examples of poets, who have use the word with a different (albeit still very forceful) definition. And then we find examples of artists who were just plain dirty racists. But whatever the reasons, we will be pin-pointing in detail who these guys were, the context in which the word was used, the general public reaction to their behaviour, and how we should be feeling about the whole thing (in case you can’t work it out for yourself).

But please note: I have tried my best to be as politically correct as possible in face of a decidedly very politically incorrect subject. I am hoping people take this for what it is: not an attempt to offend anyone, but rather as an educational piece about a topic which is very real, yet generally unspoken about. So whether you are white, black, brown, grey, yellow, red, green, midnight blue, light beige, deep cyan or khaki gold (like me), let’s all come together and unite over one thing: the love for my blog. Tell everyone about me, they’ll love it.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 20. V-Nasty

20. V-Nasty

“I think yo bitch like me, the nigga wanna fight me. Yeah I got that chopper red beam on his head though. Nigga talkin’ shit but I push his shit back though.” - Cooking (among others)

If you don’t know who V-Nasty is, don’t worry too much about it, she’s not all that famous. However, there is a good chance you’ve heard her name before. Do you know of Kreayshawn? The girl that sings “Gucci Gucci, Gucci Gucci, Guccigucciguccigucci” or however that song goes? It’s kinda popular, having racked up over 40 million views on YouTube, so maybe you were one of those people. Anyway, on that song we hear the line “I'm yelling ‘Free V-Nasty’ 'til my throat is raspy”, which is about this very V-Nasty herself, as both these chicks are members of the hip-hop group White Girl Mob.

However, V (can I call her V?) has received quite a substantial amount of negative attention thrust on top of her because of this article’s very topic. She has been known to frequently drop n-bombs all over her rhymes, and then claims “if I can’t say the n-word, then nobody should say it”, all sense of entitlement and shit. She also assured everyone that the white people of her hood use the word all the time, and as a result, anyone opposing her is a “fucking hater”. Of course.

Response to this has been mixed: Talib Kweli called it “disappointing”; Yelawolf said V-Nasty could find herself getting slapped up, and maybe by a white dude; Fat Joe defended that hip hop is supposed to be for everyone, and if those artists can “say nigger all day” without being racist, then she could do the same; all the while most people just asked “who’s V-Nasty?”

The controversy got so out of control, that Kreayshawn had to distance herself from her friend, openly stating that she herself would never use the word, and hoped that people could tell the difference between the two of them. Eventually all of this pressure got to V-Nasty, and she has recently stated that she will stop using the word in future songs.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 19. Matt Johnson (The The)

19. Matt Johnson (The The)

“And while the niggers of this world are starving with their mouths wide open, what is it that turns the coins we throw at them into worthless little tokens?” - Violence of Truth

With only one constant member (Matt Johnson, duh) and an array of formers, The The probably had their most interesting incarnation around 1989. This was due, in part, to collaborations with Sinead O’Connor; in part to ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr becoming a full-time member; and in part to the album Mind Bomb, which explored some new topics for the man, including religion, romance, politics, and, of course, race.

It is on this release that we find the song in question, but you may also be surprised to find it hardly caused any trouble at all. This is most likely owed to the overall context of the album, as it was delivered like some hard-hitting truth or something, which meant Matt never really had to answer for it. However, I did find one interesting interview with the dude in Melody Maker, which stated the following:

“on 'Violence of Truth,' I'm saying that God is evil. God is everything. I'm asking what it is that makes us ashamed to be white when we close our eyes to the sound of machine gun fire. Why the niggers of the world are starving with their mouths wide open? Why is it that anything on this earth that we don't understand pushes us to our knees to worship or to damn. These are the rules of religion. These are the rules of the land. That's how the forces of darkness will suppress the spirit of man.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I reckon Matt definitely got the wrong end of the stick on how use that word, even if he had the best intentions. I mean, the dude just referred to the collective black race as “niggers” in casual conversation right there, pretty sure that’s not cool. It’s no wonder then that Stylus Magazine said “Heavy-handed ‘The Violence of Truth’ threatens to cross over the taste barrier before leaping it in one bound with a clumsy, crass, and unnecessary lyric about ‘The niggers of the world.’ It might have been a comment on the impotent rock star patronage of African famine and the various economic and military catastrophes unfurling across that continent at the time, but in practice it stands out like a sore thumb amidst the non-more-white-and-affluent feel of the album as a whole. In the Britain of 2006 it feels awkward—seventeen years ago it was either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, and the odds are on the latter.” Yeah, that.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 18. David Allan Coe

18. David Allan Coe

“It's enough to make a man throw up, sure is hard to figure how any decent girl could ever fuck a greasy nigger” - Nigger Fucker (among others)

Despite first uttering the naughty word on one of his biggest albums Rides Again (“Tryin' like the devil to find the Lord. Workin' like a nigger for my room and board. Coal-burnin' stove, no natural gas. If that ain't Country, I'll kiss your ass” - If That Ain’t Country, 1977), it was the song Nigger Fucker off his highly criticized 1978 Underground Album which really got the attention he was blatantly so desperate for. As an independent release, David intentionally put together something which he thought was a more humourous offering, by using all the profanity and sexually charged lyrics he could muster. This included the aforementioned slur, which resulted in much accusation of racism (er, you think?), so much so that even renowned author Neil Strauss labelled the material as "among the most racist, misogynist, homophobic and obscene songs recorded by a popular songwriter."

Allan Coe has defended his use of the word, by stating "anyone that hears this album and says I'm a racist is full of shit", and how could anyone argue with that logic? Although it does have to be said that in Coe's band at the time was African-American drummer Kerry Brown, so that makes it ok, surely.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 17. Dexter Holland (The Offspring)

17. Dexter Holland (The Offspring)

“Beat all the niggers. Beat whoever you see. Don't need a reason, we're L.A.P.D.” - L.A.P.D.

Even though I’m definitely not their biggest fan, there is no denying that The Offspring are one the most popular pop-punk bands in recent decades. Their album Smash was a really big, uhm, smash, and they continued to churn out many hits and misses since that time, eventually going on to sell over 40 million records worldwide. But it was their earlier more traditional punk rock material which this entry focuses on, more specifically, the 1992 album Ignition which featured the above mentioned song, L.A.P.D.

Of course, in context, it’s easy to see why nobody complained. The attack was not directed at any minority, but rather, the police force and their own racist tendencies. This is all backed up by the rest of the lyrics, which go on about general cop brutality in Los Angeles, as well as how flawed a legal system is where officers can get away with whatever they want. Said track also includes the line “Beat all the white trash. Beat whoever you see...” which is great, because at least they cover both race-bases there.

And while comments about racism itself from the mouth of Dexter are hard to find, it has been suggested that The Offspring's 1993 hit Come Out And Play did tackle the subject more directly, especially with the lines “If one guy's colors and the other's don't mix, they're gonna bash it up, bash it up, bash it up, bash it up, hey!” as well as what one can only assume is the sarcastic “You gotta keep 'em separated” alluding to segregation. But all of this is just speculation, and at the end of the day, what really matters is that Dexter sported dreads for a long portion of his career, and no white man with dreads could ever be racist. It’s impossible.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: Sierra and Bianca Casady (CocoRosie)

16. Sierra and Bianca Casady (CocoRosie)

“Jesus loves me, but not my wife. Not my nigger friends or their nigger lives” - Jesus Loves Me

One of the more eccentric entries on this list, these American sisters are often recognized as forerunners of the Freak Folk genre, in all their unique stylings and confident weirdness. But even as they try to hide under their blanket of quirky protection, they have not yet managed to fully escape some hefty doses of internet hatred. Hatred which isn’t exclusively a result of their hard-to-swallow music either, but also surrounding some very serious race issues.

One reporter wrote a particularly interesting article about how member Bianca Casady has been known to attend Kill Whitey hip-hop parties. These are organised explicitly for wealthy white hipster peeps, where they are encouraged to mock the dance moves, speaking styles, and general attitudes of black people - the more outrageous the better. The idea behind this, is to provide secure conditions for so-called “white hip hop fans” to enjoy the underground dirty vibe of rap, without being afraid of “blacks”. In fact, Bianca was quoted saying that she found regular hip-hop events to be “really hardcore” and that Kill Whitey parties were “a safe environment to be freaky.” Now, I’m not saying any of this means absolutely anything, but it has been reported a number of times since, which does help to fuel accusations.

I digress. The main focus of this article has to do with the above lyrics, which were released on their 2004 album La maison de mon rêve (translated to The House Of My Dream). In an interview with Splendid Magazine, the girls spoke up about the issue, stating the following:

“It's not usually discussed or confronted with us, or at least a lot less in Europe. In the States, we've had very few, but some occasions, where people have gotten confused by the message, and wonder if we were being offensive, and maybe if we were ourselves racist, which was really shocking (...) I don't know if you recognize it, but it's a children's song, and it's really popular. I don't know if it's really popular in Canada as well. Anyway, kids learn it really early, and it's really stripping down Christianity to its most basic, to a child's perspective. There's such a large population of African-Americans for whom Christianity is a huge thing, but Christianity still remains to be exclusive, and is very segregated, and it's very intricately connected to an old-fashioned mentality that's still very racist. To me, it's a huge contradiction with Christ's message.”

But despite this, and despite the fact that this album was only meant to be heard by their friends (the label Touch & Go pushed for the release of it), and despite the fact that the girls wear fake moustaches, certain venues have refused to allow CocoRosie to play the song during concerts, which is understandable, I reckon.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 15. Necro

15. Necro

“That's the second time a nigga tried to kill me, I'm starting to feel important.” - Underground (among others)

Ron Braunstein (aka Necro)'s first musical interests began in the wonderful world of thrash metal, which meant that, by the time he had ventured into hip-hop, he had already been well tainted by the touch of Satan. So much so, that he is known as the pioneer of “Death Rap”, an ultraviolent form of hip-hop where no subject matter is out of bounds. Hence why we can hear the dude sing about violence, drugs, rape, The Occult, Charles Manson, prostitution, human trafficking, cannibalism, urine, and the movie Scarface. Not only this, but his antisocial antics extend beyond his songs, as there are a few examples of riots breaking out at his gigs, as well as this one time when he got fined $3000 for fracturing a man’s cheekbone just before a show. Oh, not to mention that his song “Garbage Bag” (as well as a few others) were cited as key influences to Michael Thomas Rafferty (28 years old) and Terri-Lynne McClintic (18 years old), who listened to Necro moments before kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and then smashing the ribs out of 8 year old Victoria Stafford, until she died. So, really, for the rapper to say the n-word isn’t all that surprising.

With that in mind, people have still confronted Necro about his casual and frequent use of the word, to which he has responded that (being a Jew) the first ghettos in history were Jewish, and somehow that was relevant in his mind, and made it all ok. He also claimed we should rather be blaming the black rappers for selling their music to white kids, because that's what “brainwashed” him into saying the word in the first place. He then concluded that he never meant it in any disrespectful way, but rather as a term of affection, and where he grew up it was common language. However, he is using the word less and less these days, and is apparently trying to avoid it. That’s nice, thanks Necro.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 14. Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)

14. Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)

“Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz, on your five grand stereo. Braggin that you know how the niggers feel cold and the slums got so much soul.” - Holiday in Cambodia

As one of the first American hardcore bands to make an impact in the UK, The Dead Kennedys were known for their fast riffs and harsh lyrics, which were never too far away from some twisted sense of humour. Because of this, they were always in trouble, most notably during an obscenity trial over their 1985 album Frankenchrist, because they used HR Giger's piece Landscape #XX as the front cover (click here to see it, probably NSFW). Luckily, they won the case, but this ordeal nearly left them bankrupt.

However (and more on topic), it was their second single released in 1980 (by the name of Holiday In Cambodia) which we will be focusing on here. It contained the n-word, but surprisingly, did not really result in the backlash one would assume. This is most likely because (in context) it worked as satire, comparing the contrasting lifestyles of self-righteous Americans to those of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. This impression was further cemented by the single's artwork, which depicted a member of a right-wing crowd beating a student protester’s corpse with a chair during the 1976 October Thailand massacre.

But despite this not being their only use of the word (the 1981 remake of their first single California Über Alles, retitled as We've Got a Bigger Problem Now, contained the lyrics “Ku Klux Klan will control you, still you think it's natural. Nigger knockin' for the master race, still you wear the happy face”), Holiday in Cambodia was definitely their most popular, so much so that it has been covered by Earth Crisis, Boysetsfire, Richard Cheese, and Foo Fighters (featuring System of a Down’s Serj Tankian on vocals) to name a few. Not to mention that it was also featured on the TV show Neighbours, as well as the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Hell, even Levi’s tried to use the song in a commercial, which resulted in a lawsuit between former Kennedys members (Jello being the one fighting furiously against it). But in most (or even all) these cases, the offending word was changed to the much more PC term “brothers”, and even Jello himself no longer uses the original word in his performances, opting to replace it with “blacks” instead.

But was Jello a racist? The answer is, of course, hell no. For starters, Dead Kennedys second drummer D.H. Peligro was of an African descent. Furthermore, when Dead Kennedys became popular within the neo-Nazi punk movement and attracted the skinheads to their concerts, they promptly wrote a song called Nazi Punks Fuck Off, which I think gets the message across loud and clear.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 13. Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence)

13. Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence)

“This one goes out to my whores, niggers and negros, fucking with my style, fucking with my flow” - Dickface (among many many others)

Using a mix of of punk, alternative, electronica, techno, industrial and hip-hop to deliver their message, it should come as no surprise that this band’s lyrics are driven by the same no-holds-barred and in-your-face energy that their music is. And while they haven’t exactly broken into mainstream consciousness just yet, they have supported some big names who have, such as Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn and Rammstein - to name a few. They owe this, in part, to their unapologetic shock value, which includes (but is not limited to) overtly sexual lyrics (which often dance on the line between homosexuality and homophobia, freely saying the "faggot" word like it ain't no thang), as well as, of course, frequent use of the dreaded n-word.

In fact, it’s hard to listen to any MSI album without coming across the term in question, as they utter the slur in so many songs that it became difficult for me to pick just one. We have earlier examples on their 1999 album Tight (“No, this is mine, nigger, this is mine!” - Tornado/“Lemme give you the reason to fuck me up, nigga” - Daddy) right up until their 2008 album You’ll Rebel To Anything (“Nigga, for all the stolen goods, as I rock that niggas and get freaky-deaky” - Two Hookers And An 8-Ball”) and everything in between (“Down to defy nigga's, and my double wide nigga's” - Wack on 2003's Despierta Los Niños EP). Because of this, the accusations have flowed in the plenty, but Jimmy Urine has been quick to stand up for himself. My vote for his best defence comes in the form a Method Man cover, named Bring The Pain, which not only boasts the line “And all you niggaz come and test me, I'm gonna lick out your brains” but also features at least 12 other mentions of the word within its contents. Usually in concert, this song's performance is introduced by Jimmy with some variation of the following quote:

“Because of this next song people think that I am a racist. Which is true, because I fucking hate white people. In London or anywhere, always online. But, I didn’t write this next fucking song - no! Another man wrote it. A pretty man. A strong man. A Method Man, if you will. And he wrote it so well, that who am I to change any fucking lyric in it? As I am a purist. So, if you have a problem with the word “nigger’, please get on your telephones and call Method Man at his agency at 212 864 3219, and when his agent and/or secretary therein picks up, I want you all to say: 'I came to bring the pain'.”

To me, this is a great justification, which stands as evidence that Mindless Self Indulgence are really just a hip-hop satire outfit, and as big fans of the genre, are simply using the word at lyrical value rather than some derogatory term. That said, the word is strangely absent from their 2008 album “If”, which could mean the opposition eventually got to them.

That said, with lyrics like “Five year old mother-fucking pantyshot, can't complain. I didn't even touch her so I can't be blamed. 5 year old pantyshot in my brain. My life has meaning when she spreads her legs” from their early demo song Pantyshot, it’s surprising that the n-word got any attention at all.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 12. Elvis Costello

12. Elvis Costello

“Only takes one itchy trigger. One more widow. One less white nigger” - Oliver’s Army

Costello is a true legend in every sense of the word (having won a Grammy; being twice nominated for the Brit Awards’ Best British Male; and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), which is why I was quite surprised to discover the man has received a fair share of racist allegations during his career. The biggest one occurred during a drunken argument one night in an Ohio Holiday Inn bar, where the singer referred to James Brown as a “jive-ass nigger”, and then went on to call Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant, nigger”. As to be expected, he apologised profusely after the incident, claiming it was his intention to be as offensive and as obnoxious as possible in hopes of bringing a conversation to an end, and that "drunken talk isn't meant to be printed in the paper”. But the damage was done, and he spent many years following trying to live it all down.

That said (and as far as song lyrics go) his usage of the n-word in the above example was spoken in a far tamer context, and as a result, was somewhat overlooked. This is because the track itself was presented as social commentary, written about a trip Elvis had made to Belfast in 1978. It was there that he witnessed young children bearing automatic weapons, which had become such a common image in the country, that it no longer even made the news. Exposure to these conditions affected Costello so much, that it inspired him to write this piece, which was all very serious and sad. Because of the subject matter, the radio was more than happy to play the song with the n-word intact (most likely because the term “white nigger” seems much less offensive, don't you agree?) and as a result, this was Elvis Costello and The Attractions most successful single ever, spending four weeks at #2 in the UK charts, and going on to be covered by Belle & Sebastian, Blur, and OK Go - to name a few. However, sometimes those artists opted to carefully leave out the naughty word, because they were scared.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 11. GG Allin

11. GG Allin

“No room for nigger. No room for you in my world.” - No Room For Nigger (among others)

If this artist’s use of the n-word in such a blatantly racist fashion offends you, then allow me to educate you as to why this is absolutely nothing on his CV of filth.

Born Jesus Christ Allin, GG was a heroin addict. He used to perform naked, and took laxatives before he did so, ensuring that he'd shit all over the stage, usually deciding it'd be a good idea to roll around in the feces and then throw it at the crowd, like a monkey. He wouldn’t even wash himself before the after-parties. He'd get into fist fights every show, with either men or women, he didn't care, and this is often why people turned up to to watch him in the first place. The majority of his gigs got shut down by the cops before they were finished, and he even once went to jail for the rape and torture of a prostitute, to which he confessed to cutting, burning, and drinking her blood - but promised it was consensual.

His entire career, he threatened to blow himself up on stage, taking all his fans with him. Unfortunately/fortunately (depending on whose side you’re on) he never got the chance, as he ended up like so many do: dying of an accidental heroin overdose. At his open casket funeral (still smothered with his own poo with a bottle of Jim Beam tucked into his hand), fans were encouraged to place drugs or alcohol in his dead mouth, and some even performed felatio on the corpse.

Getting the picture yet? So needless to say, his songs weren’t all that politically correct either, covering every dark image a man could possibly comprehend, including (but not limited to) paedophilia, blasphemy and homophobia - despite the fact that he openly admitted to sleeping with men (including his brother) so there is some weird twisted defence in there somewhere. Not to mention his song titles, which were the poisonous cherry on top of a rancid cake, with such great examples as: “I Kill Everything I Fuck”; “I’m Gonna Rape You”; “I Wanna Piss On You”; “I Want To Fuck The Shit Out Of You”; “Kill Thy Father, Rape Thy Mother”; ”Legalize Murder”; “My Sadistic Killing Spree”; “Needle Up My Cock”; “Scabs On My Dick”; “Suck Dog”; and “Expose Yourself To Kids”. In fact, that last title has got to be one of the foulest songs ever written, featuring the line “Suck a little hairless crack. Hold 'em down, they can’t fight back. Watch 'em scream and cry with fear. Fucking cunt, don’t tell nobody, dear” and other such misbehaviour.

Take all that into consideration, and the whole n-word thing doesn't actually sound that bad in comparison, even though he did say it multiple times (“The KKK took the niggers out to die. When the blackie's burning, I hope he's gonna die.” - Die When You Die; “Hey bad niggers with your hand in the pot” - I’ll Slice Your Fucking Throat; “in Chicago, niggers tried to kill me, but you didn't pull through” - I’m A Gyspy Motherfucker; “I want to kill my brother. Kill my ex-wife. I want to kill the president. Kill the niggers too” - I Wanna Kill You, etc etc). Which is why nobody held their breath whilst waiting for an apology or even an explanation from the man about racism or anything else, because if you had to challenge him about such things, he would have punched you in the face with a bloody fist full of semen and shit. And then you would know there was only ever one true God of punk rock. GG Allin. Amen.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 10. Ninja (Die Antwoord)

10. Ninja (Die Antwoord)

“Yo, DJ Hi-Tek. Where you at, my nigga?” - DJ Hi-Tek Rulez (also used as the outro for Fok Julle Naaiers)

When the 2012 sophomore album from this zef-side South African rap-rave crew dropped, it caused some serious Ten$ion (heh) with Interscope Records. Reasons given were many, but evidence suggested that it was some of their lyrical content which had caused the label to squirm. In particular, the outro for the very dark Fok Julle Naaiers single featured some highly questionable sentences, which (besides the above example) included: “DJ Hi-Tek will fuck you in the ass, you punk ass white boy”; “You can’t touch me faggot, you’re not man enough”; “DJ Hi-Tek will eat your asshole, I’ll fuck you in front of everybody you bitch”; and “I’ll fuck you 'til you love me, faggot” - all of which were almost direct word-for-word quotations from Mike Tyson, spoken during his Lennox Lewis fight press conference. But despite this fact, the two parties could not come to an agreement, and Die Antwoord left the company.

Of course, and as most of us know, Die Antwoord are anything but racist, having embraced their South African heritage and collaborated with many different races from the rainbow nation over the years. However, the word “faggot” specifically seemed to cause much more commotion, to the point that Ninja released the following statement to explain himself:

“I’d like to set the record straight here once and for all. (1) DJ-Hi-Tek is gay, so there you go. Now you all know. (2) DJ-Hi-Tek says the word “faggot” doesn’t hold any power over him. Hi-Tek says “faggot” all the time, cos he’s kind of, like, taken that word and made it his bitch. (3) Just to be fucking clear, Die Antwoord are not homophobic. Some of my tightest homies are gay, like for instance, DJ-Hi-Tek, who happens to be one of my best friends in the whole foking universe. And finally, (4) It comes across to us that some people from America are heavy sensitive about the use of certain words. But the thing is, what you need to understand is: we’re not from America. We’re from South Africa. And in South Africa people aren’t so pumped up about these words. Like, for instance, in South Africa, a white guy will say to a black guy ‘yo, wassup, my nigger?’ and the black guy will be like ‘eei, what’s up my nigger?’ and no one freaks out or anything. That’s why they say South Africa is a rainbow nation, 'cos you get different people of different colours and different sexual styles, or whatever, all coming together as one.”

Now, as a South African, I don’t really suggest walking up to a black guy and saying “wassup my nigger?” because I haven’t seen that working all too well in my experience. However, I do think Ninja has a point, and with that little speech, cleared up the air a bit, preventing any further racial trouble from anyone else.

But what surprised me more than anything else, was the most intense racial slur this duo have ever uttered which slid cleanly under the radar. On the first track of Ten$ion titled Never Le Nkemise (translated from zulu/afrikaans to “You Can't Stop Me”) we hear Ninja say “die wit [the white] kaffir”. Kaffir itself is, in South African lingo, much much more derogatory than the word “nigger”, used to label black people as “non-believers” during the heavy apartheid era, resulting in much violence and even murders during our past troubles. In fact, the legal act No. 4 of 2000 (Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act) actually prohibits said word, even if not explicitly stated. I mean, as I mentioned, I’m not too sure you could say “wassup my nigger?” to black guy in South Africa and get away with it, but if you tried to say “wassup my kaffir?”, you would most definitely get a hiding.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 9. Frank Zappa

9. Frank Zappa

“A foolish young man of the negro persuasion devoted his life to become a Caucasian. He stopped eating pork, he stopped eating greens, he traded his dashiki for some Jordache Jeans. He learned to play golf and he got a good score, now he says to himself, ‘I ain't no nigger no more’” - You Are What You Is

As a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Frank Zappa’s styles knew no bounds and were difficult to categorize, as he effortlessly slid between humorous parody rock ‘n’ roll; full-on experimental doo-wop; eclectic jazz; and even some traditional classical compositions. But despite his cult following and critical acclaim, his vibe was far too weird to ever fully break into the mainstream, and still to this day almost everyone knows his name, yet hardly any of them can name a song. So when you couple this with his daunting 62 album catalogue, you can understand why he never really got into any trouble over the quick n-word slip in his 1981 song You Are What You Is (from the album of the same name). Because nobody even noticed.

The song’s subject matter was touchy at best, telling the listener to embrace their culture (which is good advice) by using the examples of two young men. The first, a middle class white dude who lives a decent life, but pretends to have come from years of hardship in order to play the blues and be accepted as more “black”. The second is the man featured in the above quote, being the black counter-opposite, changing his diet and denying his culture to be accepted as more “white”. Which may be a little insensitive to some, sure, but a common story nonetheless.

And Zappa wasn’t a racist. Evidence includes: how much of his music was inspired by black artists (with particular interest in early R&B and doo-wop); how he was friends and performed with so many black artists (some of whom were actually involved with the recording of this song - point proven when you watch this live version of the track, where Ray White and Frank Zappa share vocal duties, which stands as a great black & white harmony on a song about blacks who want to be whites, and whites who want to be blacks - it’s kinda beautiful, in that way); and finally, how he had taken the piss out of so many diverse subjects that any religion, music style, or race was fair game, never meant as anything but harmless satire.

And I guess when the all-black a cappella group The Persuasions covered this song themselves in 2000, it made it extra-ok.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 8. Bob Dylan

8. Bob Dylan

“And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger, no one doubted that he pulled the trigger. And though they could not produce the gun, the DA said he was the one who did the deed. And the all-white jury agreed.” - Hurricane

Out of every song on this list, no other example was more justified in context, and yet very few caused quite as much controversy.

As with any good Dylan composition, this 1976 Desire track begins with an interesting backstory. It revolves around professional boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was accused and found guilty of a triple homicide - despite the appalling lack of evidence. The conviction was (and still has been) considered to be racially motivated, and despite Carter always professing his innocence while others doubted the fairness of the trial, he was sentenced to a double life term in prison.

The story hit Dylan hard, who visited Rubin on occasion, and eventually decided to write a song about the man. It was one of Dylan’s very few protest songs, and despite his difficulty in writing it, proved to be his fourth most successful single of the decade, reaching #33 on the Billboard chart and #43 in the UK.

And, naturally, controversy followed, snapping at the ankles of the song before it was even released. Columbia Records put their foot down about certain lyrics, which told the story by using some less-than-proven facts whilst mentioning people by name, forcing Dylan to rewrite the entire thing at least once. But even with the revised lyrics, people were quick to point out holes in the song, for example: Carter was never the “number one contender”, nor was there any mention of the boxer’s well documented criminal history and short temper, rendering the whole effort to be read as one heavily biased piece of work.

It didn’t matter - the song did exactly what it was meant to do, shoving the story into a much higher consciousness, and causing an uproar from dirty hippies who didn’t do their research, all over the world. And more than anything, the story was forever immortalized by Bob Fucking Dylan, which is pretty great if you ask me, and eventually lead to the 1999 film The Hurricane (starring Denzel Washington) which too has come under fire for misguided information. However, Carter was ultimately released early after 22 years incarceration, as a result of some heavy reconsideration, which could have had something to do with this very track.

But was Bob Dylan a racist? What, really? After all that? No, he wasn’t. He has written many many songs about racial injustice if you are willing to look for them, so don’t be stupid.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 7. Marilyn Manson

7. Marilyn Manson

“Everybody's someone else's nigger. I know you are, so am I” - Irresponsible Hate Anthem (among others)

Of course, a list of this nature would not be complete without the modern day shock-rock-God-of-Fuck himself, Brian Warner. In a career that has been fueled by controversy surrounding religious hatred and violent anthems (going on to sell 50 million records worldwide, I might add), it should come as no surprise that the n-word has cropped up now and again.

But while we have “Why are all the niggers in the unemployment line?” from 1994’s White Trash (an acoustic remake of Cake And Sodomy on the Smells Like Children EP, performed by Tony Wiggums, which got so heavily edited that an uncensored version is next to impossible to find); as well as “I fuck you because you are my nigger” from Para-Noir (sung by Pat and Lily on 2003’s The Golden Age Of Grotesque, the former being the name of his cat, and most likely, is his cat); I chose the specific headline quote because the word comes directly from Manson’s mouth alone.

You can find the song on 1996’s classic Antichrist Superstar, an album which caused one of the biggest upsets in recent decades, and yet not because of that word whatsoever. No, the slur (despite not meant in any racial context) was the least of the band’s problems, as the majority of backlash came as a result of the anti-Christian themes and glorification of suicide. Mothers cried and politicians used it as an example of our youth’s degrading morals. Protests followed, then death threats, and finally ludicrous accusations that Manson was solely responsible for the Columbine High School Massacre. So I think it’s safe to say that there was far too much on everyone’s plates to even notice the album’s opening use of “nigger”, instead everyone freaking out about Satanism rather than racism. Which is a much smaller problem, in my opinion.

However, the question of racism has been put forward to Manson before, and in his usual intelligence, had the following to say:

“I hate as many black people as I do white. Those kinds of assumptions aggravate me, because I take such effort to make a powerful statement on stage against something like white power. If someone is so ignorant to perceive it as something like that, it's like the biggest insult.”

And I mean, at the end of the day, it’s all about shock for shock’s sake, isn’t it? I mean, sure he blatantly wore blackface makeup during his Golden Age Of Grotesque era, but that was a reference to the late 1800’s itself, wasn't it? Of course he is a collector of Nazi memorabilia, but he’s a weird quirky artist entertainer, so it’s ok then, right? Isn’t it? Hey?

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 6. Edward Tudor-Pole (Sex Pistols)

6. Edward Tudor-Pole (Sex Pistols)

“Mick Jagger, white nigger” - The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle

Being held responsible for initiating the punk movement with just one simple album (1977’s Nevermind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols) seemed to result in a fall as fast as the rise. Less than three months after the release, the band had split, leaving an awed trail of destruction and inspiration behind them. Rotten went on to form Public Image Ltd under his birth name Johnny Lyndon, and Sid Vicious was dead by the end of the year, overdosing on heroin after highly publicised accusations that he'd murdered his then-girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

The following year in 1979, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle mockumentary and soundtrack was released, which is where the above quote can be found. Rotten wanted nothing to do with the project, so instead, they filled his vocal gaps with performances from other artists, most notably Edward Tudor-Pole, who was briefly considered to become Rotten’s permanent replacement, at the time. As a result, it’s his voice you hear on that song (mostly).

The lyrics themselves attacked various celebrities in very imaginative ways, and included the following: Ian Dury was a cockney fraud; Bob Dylan had a parking ticket stuck to his asshole; Rod Stewart had a luggage label tied to his tonsils (???); Elton John had a hair transplant; Sid Vicious was a rock ‘n’ roll cliche; Johnny Rotten’s days were numbered; and yes, that Mick Jagger was a white nigger. However, hardly anyone noticed, as saying “white nigger” kind of softens the blow, and Jagger had been accused of stealing African dance moves for a while before, so maybe it was justified? Whatever. The lyric is just too fucking funny, I’m sorry, but it is.

As for the original Sex Pistols themselves, they were punks, and punks hated blacks and whites and everything else. Sure, Sid Vicious proudly wore Swastikas, and Johnny Rotten’s autobiography was called “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs”, but all of this was generally accepted as fuck-you shock tactics rather than anything malicious.

That said, more recently Rotten did get accused of racism due to a fist fight he had with Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. Kele claims he approached Rotten to ask about Public Image Ltd, to which the punk legend and his entourage responded with many racist things (including “your problem is your black attitude”), and then started to beat him, leaving Kele with facial injuries. Rotten denied the accusations, stating:

“After 30 years we are achieving a true unity in our audience. They are multi varied, all ages, all races, creeds and colours. When you are at a festival with bands who are jealous fools, lies and confusion usually follow.”

He also mentioned that his grand children are Jamaican, so all the condemning offended his family, and that his life had proven to be exactly the opposite of a racist's. That’s great Johnny, but the incident was reportedly witnessed by Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs), Yannis Philippakis (Foals), and Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), so...

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 5. Nick Cave

5. Nick Cave

“And a bad-blind nigger at the piano, buts a sinister blooo lilt into that sing-a-long. Huck senses something's wrong.” - Saint Huck (as part of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds)

There’s nothing more that needs to be said about this critically acclaimed musician songwriter author screenwriter actor legend. Which is probably why, when trying to find any information about the above lyric (featured on The Bad Seeds’ 1984 classic From Her To Eternity) or even the man’s stance on racial matters, one finds themselves hitting brick wall after brick wall.

But what we can do as mere spectators, is to evaluate the context of the phrase, and perhaps find some justification within this sinister and poetic composition. The first clues come within the story itself, which centers around this Huck character floating on a riverboat down the Mississippi river, experiencing different things and meeting assorted characters. Sound familiar? It should. As this song is based loosely on Mark Twain’s 1884 definitive classic novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And if you thought the controversy surrounding any song on this list was bad, this book was on a whole new level.

Because even when considering how different times were back then, to say the word “nigger” 219 times throughout its pages has definitely had an understandable backlash in our more modern era. In fact, according to the American Library Association, Huckleberry Finn was the fifth most-frequently-challenged book in the United States during the 1990s, despite standing as a staple of reading education since its publication. As a result, many systems have opted to replace the book in the curriculum with other novels, or even with a severely censored version which was hurriedly released by the publishers in attempt to preserve this part of literacy history.

For me (and many others), this is a shame. We should not be editing parts of our past art, because we cannot edit parts of our past lives, in all of its triumphs and shames, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel. Scholar Thomas Wortham criticised it best, stating the new editions "[don’t] challenge children to ask, 'Why would a child like Huck use such reprehensible language?’” and I agree.

Which is why, unlike most entries on this list, I totally support Cave’s use of the word in this context. He is taking the essence of what made the original story so questionable (despite the novel actually reading as an attack on racism, if anything) and leaving it intact whilst pointing at it, challenging it, as it was always meant to be. And this is probably why nobody complained about the track itself. Because they understood this too.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 4. John Lennon

4. John Lennon

“Woman is the nigger of the world, yes she is. If you don't believe me, take a look at the one you're with. Woman is the slave of the slaves. Ah, yeah, better scream about it” - Woman is the Nigger of the World

After disbanding The Beatles, Mr. Lennon changed as a person quite a bit. Gone were the songs about hippie love, psychedelic characters, and drug usage; now replaced by more politically aware peace anthems and introspective almost therapeutic journeys into his psyche. This was, of course, fuelled by his new found love and partner in art, Yoko Ono, who had spent many more years before Lennon in the deep underground Avant Garde scene, as well as living as a pro-feminist activist. Which is where this particular story begins.

Released on Lennon’s 1972 album Some Time In New York City, the main phrase of this track was first coined by Ono herself in an interview with Nova magazine. The use of the word, of course, did not have anything to do with race per se, but rather out of frustration surrounding the oppression of women in our decidedly masculine society.

The comment was so striking that, not only did the magazine place it on their front cover, but John Lennon decided it would be just the type of hard-hitting message ideal for a single. And as to be expected, it did exactly that: hit hard, and often in all the wrong places. People said it was inappropriate to compare women’s rights to the oppression of African-Americans. Radio stations refused to play it. Apple Records refused to promote it. And with all these factors combined, it was destined to be Lennon’s lowest charting US single released in his lifetime (at #57). But The National Organization for Women did award him and Yoko a "Positive Image of Women" citation due to the song's "strong pro-feminist statement", so it wasn't all bad.

Lennon had no problem backing his statement up, remarking that “obviously there was a few people that really reacted strangely to it, but usually they were white and male.” He went on to say that his use of the term "nigger" was referring to any oppressed person, and that he thought the “word nigger has changed, it does not have the same meaning as it used to”. Although, some 40 years on, people might still disagree with you, John.

However, I will personally stand by this bold statement, because I think Lennon went about it in the right away. Reportedly, he asked several civil rights activists before releasing the song as to whether they understood his use of the word, and if they thought it would cause any offence. After the release, he was willing to go to great lengths to avoid any accusations of racism, appearing in African-American magazines Ebony and Jet to discuss how black stars had changed his life.

But what’s most funny to begin with, is that no one could ever seriously accuse a man like Lennon of racism (even though some still do based on this song alone). He married outside of his race; fought for world peace; was hugely inspired by black musicians; and performed with many of them during his career. There is no doubt to anyone with any knowledge about the legend, that his stance was always one of anti-racial injustice and oppression. On the other hand, gender tolerance was never one of his strong points, as he had a well documented history of being a womaniser and wife beater. But this was, of course, until Yoko came along and kicked his ass, and then he wrote songs like this.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 3. Eminem

3. Eminem

“And all the girls that I like to bone have the big butts. No they don't, 'cos I don't like that nigger shit. I'm just here to make a bigger hit” - So Many Styles

While no other genre drops the n-bombs quite like hip-hop does, it is kinda weird that when a white rapper does it, the reaction is so much worse than any other type of artist. Sure, V-Nasty did it, but who is V-Nasty, anyway? Sure, Cage has let the word slip in some freestyles, but it seemed like such a small deal that I didn’t even include him on this list. However, and it may come as some surprise to you, that the highest selling rapper of all time has also said the offending word in his lyrics before, especially when he made a point of avoiding it on his 2000 song Criminal (Marshall Mathers LP) with the rhyme “I drink more liquor to fuck you up quicker than you'd wanna fuck me up for saying the word...” stopping there. Heh. Funny.

No, it was long before then - before Eminem was famous, even - when (at the age of about 15 years old) he put together some rough tracks for a demo. This not only included the offending song, but also an even more politically incorrect freestyle titled Foolish Pride, which contained the lines “Black girls only want your money 'cos they're dumb chicks, so I'ma say like this, don't date a black girl” as well as “Black girls are dumb and white girls are good chicks”. So when Eminem’s arch-enemy The Source Magazine managed to get hold of these tapes, they had a field day, attempting to character assassinate him with the ridiculous statement of “We gotta treat this the same way you treat Mike Tyson, like you treat Kobe Bryant, like you treat R. Kelly, like you treat O.J. Simpson."

Eminem was quick to admit he was wrong, but also defended the songs, stating they were directed at an African-American girlfriend he’d had at that age, who’d cheated on him. The freestyle was made “out of anger, stupidity and frustration” and he hoped “people [would] take it for the foolishness that it was, not for somebody trying to make it into today”. He also rightfully pointed out the blatant vendetta The Source has against him; that the tracks were produced by black guys; as well as the fact that he was only a young teenager when they were made. Personally, I feel these points are all valid, mainly because he works so closely with many black artists (being signed by Dr Dre; signing 50 Cent/Obie Trice; and as the only white guy in the 6 piece D12) which is enough to laugh the whole thing off. But Eminem being Eminem didn’t leave it at that, still tackling the subject in a few of his songs, including 2004’s Yellow Brick Road, with “she dumped me for this black guy, and that's the last I ever seen or heard or spoke to the ‘oh foolish pride’ girl. But I've heard people say they heard the tape and it ain't that bad, but it was. I singled out a whole race, and for that apologise. I was wrong 'cos no matter what colour a girl is, she's still a hoe” on Encore. Not to mention he has dissed The Source countless times due to the incident since then, so I think we can let this one go, if that’s ok with you guys.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 2. Patti Smith

2. Patti Smith

“Jimi Hendrix was a nigger. Jesus Christ and Grandma, too. Jackson Pollock was a nigger. Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger.” - Rock n Roll Nigger

Known as the “Godmother of Punk”, this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was famous for her rough snarling vocals spitting fearless lyrics, which said pretty much whatever she wanted about religion, politics, and yes, race. Because of this loud feminist voice in a predominantly male genre, many high-grade artist have cited her as a major inspiration to their own music, such as Michael Stipe from R.E.M, Shirley Manson from Garbage, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, and Madonna.

What could be owed, in part, to her incredible acclaim, was that the intense song in question (from her 1978 album Easter) never really resulted in the public outcry one would come to expect, especially when comparing it to so many of the other much tamer entries on this list. In fact, the song was revered rather than rejected, having been referenced during concerts by U2’s Bono, as well as covered by aforementioned Marilyn Manson on his 1995 Smells Like Children EP. But while debate as to what she meant by it all still runs fast to this day (some claiming the context of the n-word to mean “lazy”, “slave”, or most commonly, “outcast”), Smith did try to justify the use herself, by releasing the following confusing statement along with the single:

“nigger no invented for color it was MADE FOR THE PLAGUE the word (art) must be redefined-all mutants and the new babes born sans eyebrow and tonsil-outside logic-beyond mathematics poli-tricks baptism and motion sickness-any man who extends beyond the classic for is a nigger-one sans fear and despair-one who rises like rimbaud beating hard gold rythumn outta soft solid shit-tongue light is coiling serpant is steaming spinal avec ray gun hissing scanning copper head w/ white enamel eye wet and shining crown reeling thru gleem vegetation ruby dressing of thy lips puckering whispering pressing high bruised thighs silk route mark prussian vibrating gushing milk pods of de/light translating new languages new and abused rock n roll and lashing from tongue of me nigger”

Uhm, yeah, sure Patti.

But the main point stands that she not only unapologetically called Jimi Hendrix a “nigger” back there, but Jesus Christ too, which takes more balls than anyone else in this article. Which is mind-blowing, not because Smith ironically didn’t have any balls, but because nobody murdered her. Damn, girl. Respect.

20 White Artists Who Have Said Nigger In A Song: 1. Axl Rose (Guns N' Roses)

1. Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses)

“Police and Niggers, that's right, get out of my way. Don't need to buy none of your gold chains today” - One In A Million

At their peak, Guns N’ Roses were the biggest rock band in the world, having gone on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide, and being solely credited for the rock revival in the late 80’s. A lot of this is due to the partnership between Slash’s incredible guitar licks, and Axl’s high-pitched ego-mania, which gave far too much of a fuck about not giving a fuck, resulting in the coolest douchebag, ever.

After releasing the biggest selling debut album in US history (1987’s Appetite For Destruction) they rush-released G N’ R Lies the following year, and that’s where this entry begins. Despite protests from fellow band mates (particularly Slash, whose mother is black), Axl stubbornly put his foot down and forced one of his first solo compositions onto this record. It went by the name of One In A Million, and as you may have guessed, it proudly sported the n-word without any apprehension or shame. However, it did come with a little token of acknowledgement, as the liner notes contained the following: "This song is very simple and extremely generic or generalized, my apologies to those who may take offense." But people did take offence. In a big way.

The controversy that followed was not exclusively racial controversy either, as the song seemed to promote nativism and homophobia too (specifically with the line “immigrants and faggots, they make no sense to me”), but while those derogatory comments have stories of their own, it was the n-word that caused the most fuss. This is probably because Axl was being Axl, and found no reason to initially apologise, yet still had a lot to say on the subject - as per usual. He described a personal experience in which he had felt intimidated by black street merchants trying to sell him gold chains, and added many years later that "I was pissed off about some black people that were trying to rob me. I wanted to insult those particular black people. I didn't want to support racism”. Rose has also claimed that he used the slur because it was considered taboo. Like a child. My words.

As many years passed on, he has softened his stance dramatically, first stating that the word signifies "somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem... the word nigger doesn't necessarily mean black," referencing the previously mentioned Lennon song Woman Is the Nigger of the World as an example of where the word was used in a more "positive" context. Then he mentioned he was a fan of NWA, as if that had anything to with anything.

In more recent years, he has backed out even further, declaring "there's a lot of people who have chosen to use that song. However that song makes them feel, they think that must be what the song means. If they hate blacks, and they hear my lines and hate blacks even more, I'm sorry, but that's not how I meant it" and then adding “It's not a song I would write now."

None of this changes the fact that, to me, this is the worst example of racism on this list. The reasons are: Axl’s pathetic attempts at justifying his use of the word; Axl’s complete admission that it had everything to do with race; that Axl’s lyrics weren’t particularly poetic or clever; and that Axl took far too many years to recognise what he said was wrong. But the real icing on the cake, in my opinion, was the phrase “that’s right” said immediately after The Word. It’s almost as if to sneer “I know what I said, I said it on purpose, and you know what I meant by it.”

Hence why I have selected this man to be at the top my list. Take a bow Axl, you asshole. Your last album sucked.

5 Additional Dishonourable Mentions
"This wasted nigga happens to be a fan of Jonestown" - Cage (Crazy Man Ahead)
"Why you wanna say nigger to your brother, man? Talking black pride then you call yourself a nigger? Don't bring yourself down 'cos it just don't figure" - Clawfinger (Nigger)
"Call me white nigger. Call me Christ killer or kike. Call me nigger lover because I spit on the mic" - ILL Bill (White Nigger)
"Some folks say a nigger won't steal. I caught three in my cornfield. One has a bushel, and one has a peck, one had a rope and it was hung around his neck" - Skillet Lickers (Run, Nigger, Run [to be fair, originally a Black Folk song, sung by the slaves])
"He was more than a nigger, he was an animal too" - The Gun Club (The Devil & The Nigger)

The End
And after all that, the question still remains: is it ever really ok for a white guy to say the word "nigger"? Well, unfortunately, there is no end-all umbrella answer. But as much as I am by no means the authority on the subject, here is my 2 cents anyway:

Know Your Company. If a whitie is hanging out with a bunch of his/her white friends, and they call each other "nigger" in conversation, there is no harm done. If a white guy is tight with some black dudes, and he/she knows they are chilled about the word, once again, no harm done. But don't be a douchebag and accept the word into your everyday vocabulary. Because, while I understand there will always be people who are overly-sensitive about the n-word, there is such a thing as being unnecessarily insensitive. You could justify the use in a million ways (and, believe me, I've heard them all), but life isn't always about you. Sometimes, it's about the people in the world who are still alive and have strong memories of the oppression involved around the term. Sometimes, it's about the people who, despite the general progression in modern day tolerance, are still facing racial abuse in their daily lives. And sometimes, it's about the people who will stab you because they don't feel you have earned the right to say the word - and in all fairness, you probably haven't. Just know who you are, know who you are talking to, and then stick to the script.

Finally (and as far as lyrics go), if you are a white human and simply cannot resist using this word in a song, take notes from those above. Be general, in the hip-hop sense. Be poetic and abstract, allowing definitions to be open to interpretation. Be political, looking at the word for what it was and then perhaps softening it with quotation marks, in much the same way this article does. Insult white people just after you say the word, keeping hatred to a fair balance. Get a black guy to sing the song with you, enhancing your street cred. And, if all else fails, talk about Satan or child abuse so much that the offending word gets buried under a pile of much worse repercussions.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Death Of Formspring

LegoTrip Formspring Is DeadA few days ago I received an email from Formspring. When it began expressing gratitude towards all of its 30 million users, talking shit about how they’d “grown beyond their wildest dreams” or some other cliché, I knew something bad was about to happen. And sure enough, I was right. By the time I had reached the end of the message, it had spiralled into some bleak announcement about how resources were low and costs were high, and despite having raised $14 million in venture capital, they could no longer afford to keep the site running, opting to shut the whole service down.

It might sound a bit surprising for me to say this, but a small part of me felt relief. Formspring had become somewhat of a chore in my life, and I can’t honestly say I wholeheartedly enjoyed the process any more. Every time I sat down to tackle some random question, there was always this nagging slice of my brain which taunted my fingers, encouraging them to work on something more constructive and beneficial to myself, rather than other people. I’d have to slap my face a few more times each week just to get the voices to shut-up, and only then could I keep writing these things. I did it for you guys.

That aside, there is a much bigger piece of me which mourns the loss of a website I’ve used off and on for the last 3 years. Part of this grief, is because a lot of links I have posted over the course of Juice Nothing will no longer lead anywhere, which sucks. But even more than that, I guess on some level I really did value the never ending questions which blessed my inbox at regular intervals. They made me feel loved, keeping me warm with attention, which is all I’ve ever wanted in life, really. So please believe me when I say: I seriously appreciated the "following" this website generated for me, so much, and as a result, I will miss this side of my routine. I will miss it alot. My profile had become something to be proud of. Something which contained examples of my best writing to date. And that in itself, is a personal tragedy.

So what now? Well, first off, I think it’s fair to assume that you won’t be hearing any more Formspring related posts from me, ever again. But MARK MY WORDS: this will not be the last you hear of me answering anonymous questions from you lot. The interest in this side of my creativity, and the gratitude I have for this interest, is far too powerful to let something like this go. It will take time to set-up, but a day will come when a new Ask Jared platform will open for business, and it will be different. No longer will I use some other shitty website to do the job for me, at risk of falling on its face again. This will be MY thing, where I will have complete control over content and appearance, running as a safe place where you guys can steal my time, as well including the entire backlog of posts which Formspring are about to swallow up (they are allowing me to export the data - thank God). Next round, things will be even better. This will all turn out to be a blessing in disguise, trust me. Just hang on for a bit.

Finally, to the 10 questions in my Inbox at this current time: I am sorry. But you guys will be the first to be answered on the new platform, I swear it. Just maybe not as quick as you’d like.

Love Jared.
(That’s a command, not a valediction)

UPDATE: Due to some "last minute deal", Formspring have announced they will no longer be shutting down. That's great, but I can't take the strain on my heart, and will not longer be using this temperamental website, instead opting to continue with the plan above.