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.

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