I originally wrote this a while ago, when all the V-Nasty/Kreayshawn/N-word shit first started up. I didn’t publish it cause it kind of got lost in the shuffle, and I thought it might just die down. It didn’t though, and V-Nasty is as Nasty as ever, continuing to rile people up and raise questions about race, language, and Hip Hop by dropping the n-word as if she has a nervous tick. While some have made excuses for her, and said that she’s just a reflection of our time, that shit really bothers me, on many levels, and the highest of which is that she just sucks. This music is garbage, and it makes me question if everyone else has some special set of ears that allows this to be digested as funny, good, or some other kind of way that doesn’t make them want to just shake the shit out of this girl (Note, I don’t condone shaking the shit out of women). V-Nasty’s music is god awful, and at its best it is stupid. At its worst, it’s ignorant and insulting. It’s insulting to the art of music, the culture of Hip Hop, and any intelligent person who has a 3rd grade level knowledge of American History. I love all those things, so I get the trifecta of being pissed off, which goes back to me saying that this shit bothers me. Plus, I’ve spent years perfecting my “pause-over” when reciting rap lyrics, and omitting words that are off-limits to me and my White-Jewish-ness. Are all those years of perfect timing and crafty substitution now for nothing? That’s bullshit, Geraldo!
As a lifelong fan of Hip Hop music I’ve always seen the N-Word’s appearance in any song as a final reminder of where Hip Hop has come from, and perhaps, it’s last resistance from being totally co-opted. As a student of the music, and the culture, as well as sociology, I am fully aware of the deep history of race and ethnicity of Hip Hop and the many complexities that exist when Hip Hop’s audience and participators get more diverse as well as younger. If V-Nasty, or others that do this same shit but aren’t fortunate enough to have a friend that just signed a one million dollar record deal, showed any sign of acknowledgement or respect for this history and culture and chose to use the word to make a statement, I wouldn’t care as much. But they don’t. Lacking from all of this is any kind of real debate, or reasoning. It’s just, ‘this is what I heard coming up,’ or some other lame excuse delivered in broken English, and terrible (and I’m kind here), terrible rhymes about absolutely nothing.
But I understand a little bit about the confusing aspect of racial identity, the social construction of race today. I grew up in a racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood on the southside of Chicago, and traveled many times with friends into all parts of the city, at times being the only white or Jewish person in the room. I’ve been called the n-word in both positive and negative lights. I’ve been told many times “you’re not white, etc.” When I was teaching in Englewood, my whole class experienced a sobering moment when towards the end of the school year they discovered that, yes, sadly, I am a white person. It was shocking to them as one of my 5th graders stated in jaw-dropping fashion, “What? You’re white!? I just thought you were light-skinneded.”
While in these very personal and micro-cosmic interactions race is not of the highest importance, it would be ignorant and harmful to simply pretend it doesn’t matter. Those that ask us to act as though racism is a thing of the past when constructing current policy do much to continue the harmful effects of centuries of racism. The same can be said for social actors that act under similar circumstances. So yes, as a kid when I was told I wasn’t white by my friends, it really didn’t matter if I believed them or not. When I left Hyde Park and our circle, when I went to Indiana or even downtown, it was clear just how white I was.
So, while V-Nasty says that she doesn’t mean “any color at all”, it really doesn’t matter. She uses the word without any value, this isn’t a “we should take power away from the word” type of message. This is not Bob Dylan, or Sly Stone making songs about injustice. This is… man, I don’t even know what this is. It’s I have a camera, a youtube account, and no social filters. It’s one thing to really make a statement about race and language to push a boundary. It’s another to simply be an idiot, which unfortunately, that’s all I can think of when seeing any of her freestyles, or the Kreayshawn documented moments of V-nasty being released from prison or spending a day in LA harassing people.
It’s disappointing that the Hip Hop community seems to be ok with this. And shit, maybe if she was weaving beautiful poetry it’d be a different story. But Eminem, a master of the language came under tremendous fire when an unreleased tape made when he was 15 was unearthed by Benzino. This girl is no Eminem. And we as a music community and a culture should not let her pass. Both for the language she chooses to use and the way in which she chooses use it. It’s offensive because it is not just racist, it is also extremely whack and without skill. I’m not even sure which is the worst offense.