Kreayshawn, V-Nasty and the N-Word Controversy

Categories: Hip-Hop, pondering
It was way back in 1995 when none other than KRS-One himself rapped in the DJ Premiere-produced "MCs Act Like They Don't Know" that "Now we got white kids callin' themselves niggas!" Fast forward 16 years later, a Colombia Records deal for white rapper Kreayshawn has put the issue on the forefront and it's not going away anytime soon. I've tried my best to ignore the entirety of the whole "Gucci, Gucci"-propelled phenomenon--I've been too busy bumpin' the Queens of the Mic compilation album anyway--but after torturing myself recently by listening to a commercial hip-hop radio station spin the single on a Top 5 countdown, it's nearly inescapable.

For starters, the n-word in both its forms and usage is a debate within the black community itself, let alone white rappers. Dr. Cornel West included the subject for discussion in his last music project "Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations" inviting Tavis Smiley to moderate a cordial exchange over a slickly produced music bed with fellow public intellectual Micheal Eric Dyson. Everything they offer on the topic is infinitely more enlightening than what Kreayshawn or her White Girl Mob cohort V-Nasty has to say.

But for argument's sake--or the deconstruction thereof--what's coming out from Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob in defense? For the Oakland-based rapper most in the public eye, she's on record that she doesn't drop the n-word on records, telling the Weekly, "Personally in my songs I don't use it at all. If I'm freestyling and I said it, that's just for that point in time. Any songs I'm writing I don't use it." But it's not just freestyles as evidenced by a Tweet the rapper put out a few months ago.

Kreayshawn, who's clearly tired of fielding the question, has more recently pilfered out disingenuous deflections saying in effect it's V-Nasty who says it on wax. True enough, V-Nasty drops it often and is unapologetic about it, but it's not like Kreayshawn disowns the practice by booting her out of the group and even offers nuanced justifications saying in a Weekly interview 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. No, I was raised around this."

Brother Ali
, a white rapper who is no stranger to controversy himself over his single "Uncle Sam Goddamn," offered thoughts on the n-word a year ago in an interview unrelated to the current music news cycle. Posted up by Jay Smooth's Ill Doctrine blog earlier this year, Brother Ali has some salient points that the White Girl Mob would be wise to ponder.

"Why should I impose on other people to have to confront that question in their mind?" the rapper says on the general issue at hand before going on to speak on class and white privilege. "It's easier when you're poor too to be like "we're all poor." That's true. Economically, you are oppressed," he acknowledges. "I have a disability. I'm disadvantaged in that way, but racially I'm still privileged. No matter how big my heart is, no matter [how] much I want to rage against the machine, no matter what I ever do in life, I'm always going to be privileged."

There's plenty of media generated by Kreayshawn to sift through, but stretching the effort too hard would be a waste of time and energy. At the end of the day, if the n-word controversy were to be stripped from her, V-Nasty, and the whole White Girl Mob, all that's left is a group of whack MCs who couldn't ride a beat properly to save their lives. The question becomes: why, then, are they being hyped and promoted to the point of ultra-saturation?

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