Young Nudy Said “Nigger” On “4L” And Made Me Uncomfortable

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(21 Savage, YouTube)

“4L”—a nod to some gang shit in Atlanta that I know nothing about—off of I Am > I Was smacks. 21 Savage’s growth as a rapper is crazy impressive, and it’s cool to see him give longtime collaborator Young Nudy a feature on what has been his most successful album yet.

Nudy and Savage have been linking up for years now, and it usually makes for a devastating one-two (“Air It Out” is my personal favorite by the two). “4L” was no different, but Nudy followed up 21’s monster first verse with, well…

I’m a Zone 6er, Mr. Remixer/

Mr. Fuck-her-Than-I-Hit-Her Pass Her to my nigg-ER

(via GIPHY)

Here’s the thing: he uses “nigger” in the same place as any other rapper would use “nigga.” But to anyone familiar with rap, this exception really sticks out. Like, have-to-pause-the-track sticks out. I’m now torn on one of my most frequently-used words:

  • If “nigga” gives Black folk control over “nigger,” then does it matter if we use either version interchangeably?
  • Since hard -er shook me so badly, it seems like there really is a semantic difference between the two words among Black folk today.

For once, I feel the concern old heads have of “nigga” being deemed acceptable. Chief Keef has a brief history of using “nigger” in social media posts, even hitting one of his followers with the hard -er. Then I saw some Black man on Twitter use it in similarly outlandish, disparaging ways. And now I hear it on what was the #1 album on the Billboard 200 upon release. I’m concerned because if “nigger” becomes funny and acceptable in hip-hop culture, and non-Black people (mainly White folks) who we already struggle with over the sterilized “nigga” catch on, what happens then?

Perhaps I’m overreacting. I did laugh at every other instance I referenced of me seeing the hard -er used on social media. But they were such outliers in my head, that is, until Young Nudy intentionally used the hard -er to rhyme. Now it’s entered the most coveted cultural space on the planet, and I don’t want to be laughing my ass off as this lowkey trend snowballs into something that sets race relations back decades.

If this never becomes a big issue, then great, this piece can just be a journal entry of mine. But if it does become an issue, and a rapper or two reads this, please, stop (or tell ya mans to stop) saying niggER like it’s a game.

2 COMMENTS

  1. nah nah nigga in the lyrics it says nigga. if nigga is ok then why not nigger? its not the word its about the connotation. if u say “fuck u nigger” its bad and racist. if u use it to rhyme its fine no one gives a shit except u

    • Thank you for the comment, Lima! Here is my response:

      You’re right. It’s just one song, and the artist who used “nigger” in the song was Black. Correct. Also, if you read the comment section of “4L” on YouTube, you will note I am not the only one who found Young Nudy’s use of the hard -er unusual.

      I completely understand Young Nudy did not use the word to diss his friend. However, in the same way you, Lima, have said it was okay to throw “nigger” around since an artist said it in a neutral way (assuming you are not Black), imagine the millions of less responsible rap fans who could start using “nigger” for fun in more “bad and racist” ways.

      There is a reason why artists as big as Aminé, Vince Staples, and Kendrick Lamar have warned their White fans against using “nigga.” And the way many young Black Americans see it, “nigger” is different from “nigga.” You are right, Lima, to say it’s about connotation. So tell me, what connotation does “nigger” have to Black Americans? What connotation would “nigger” have to a Black person if they heard a White fan on stage at a 21 Savage concert say, “pass her to my nig-ger”?

      Consider those situations and let me know what you think. Again, thanks for the comment!

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