Musical Context of a Word | Teen Ink

Musical Context of a Word

May 22, 2008
By Anonymous

In the black community, hip hop and rap are the major forms of musical entertainment. The extensive use of the word “n---a” has an impact on blacks in the weirdest of ways. In some songs it’s a word of endearment or brotherhood, but in others it’s a degrading term towards another black male. So when is it okay to use the word? Is it okay for other races to use the term with an “a” instead of an “er”? Most African Americans would say that it’s only okay for blacks to use while others don’t want the word used at all. Deriving from a term used by whites to belittle blacks, most African Americans feel like the word still has its sting. Though some blacks feel this way, hip hop and rap are still as popular as ever. Unusually popular among young white males, hip hop and rap pose a question to white males whether or not they can repeat the words of the song without sounding racist. Most black kids would take them as being racist and mocking their music. Some whites may truly enjoy listening to rap and hip hop, but in the presence of blacks it can sometimes be taken the wrong way. White rappers such as Eminem and Paul Wall have to choose their words carefully and are usually very hesitant about trying to use the word. Sometimes with the respect of black rappers such as 50 Cent or Ludacris, white rappers feel confident enough to use “n---a” but it will never become a second nature thing for blacks to hear and be comfortable with.

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