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Should Nigerian Rappers Use the “N-Word” in Their Music? The Lynxxx Debate Continues

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I have received strong reactions to my position on Lynxxx’s freestyle on Factory 78 that it was below par both with his lyrical prowess and delivery. If you know me, disagreements or dissenting opinions are more than welcome and fine. We can all agree to disagree. Some people like when Lynxxx raps and some, as he himself admits in his freestyle and interview, don’t like it. What I heard with his freestyle did not sit well with me which means I fall in the category of persons, at least specific to the rap I heard, that do not like when he raps. He might be motivated to step up his lyrical game and delivery to refine his art form. When he does, I will be glad to praise him.

Getting past his delivery and overall weak lyrical content, even more disturbing to me on Lynnxxx’s freestyle was the amount of times he used the N-Word. I would rather our artists not use the N word. To the degree they do, at least be conservative about it. This brings me to a bigger and long overdue debate on whether Nigerian rappers should use the N-word in their raps.

American hip-hop artists Big Pun, D-J Khaled, Eminem, V-Nasty and many non-blacks have at some point used the N-word in their songs. This has caused so much debate and outcry among many in the black community. Even though these personalities are larger than life, they actually grew up in the ghetto communities of America and as some even have said, “have black friends,” yet, there is still an outcry when these non-blacks use the N-word. Locally, Asian, Latino and other immigrant youths use the N-word and while not an issue among their clicks, it many times becomes an issue when interacting with black youths.

Now let’s go to Nigeria. Nigerian rappers use the N-word quite liberally in their music and the trend is increasing. Nigerian rappers are the first to immediately and clearly disassociate from the Black American culture or Black local community. For all intended purposes, a Nigerian artist is “Naija for life i.e. 100% Naija.” Even when a comparison is attempted, many are the first to negate such comparisons citing stereotypes often associated with blacks in America. Yet, the N-word is used so liberally in the music of the Nigerian rapper. Why?

Intriguing and many times very embarrassing is majority of these N-word spewing rap artists have never stepped foot on the shores of the USA. Many don’t even know what a ghetto looks like, much less understand the black culture. Also, even within Nigeria, it is hard to watch musicians who, for the most part, grew up with silver spoons in their mouths try to present to the public an understanding of what it is like to live in a reality where your restroom is just a hole in the ground shared with a large community of neighbors, among other things. Most of these rappers would not be caught anywhere near ghetto communities in Ajegunle, Mushin, Ebute Metta, Ikeja etc.

Maybe, in the future, the industry will open up to upcoming Nigerian rappers from these communities. But for now, that is simply not the case. The biggest names on Nigeria’s hip-hop list, as they themselves report in their interviews etc., had a middle class or above average life in Nigeria. Indeed so much so, their parents ultimately sent them abroad to study at some of the finest institutions in America and the UK. Do these Nigerian rappers then get a pass on the N-word because they do hip-hop? A Nigerian artist, Vocal Slender, who actually was a scavenger by day and gained notoriety when he was featured on BBC doesn’t even use the N-word in his songs. Why do the kids that grew up with drivers, housemaids etc. then use the ‘N’ word in their music?

While Lynxxx has spent a bit of time, albeit very short, in the West, his freestyle on Factory 78 underscores my point. I lost count of the many times he said “nigga/niggaz/niggas.” Why is this okay coming from a Nigerian artist? So far, with all of the N-word used, it has not been enough to help break these Nigerian rappers into mainstream America or other Western markets. On the contrary, the Western markets and America has done better with artists like Nneka, Asa, D’Banj, Tuface. Notice 99.9% of the time, these artists do not use the N-word. I am trying to imagine a Nigerian rap artists from Davido to even Lynxxx getting on a platform like MTV, or BET in the USA, the host introduces him or her as being from “Nigeria, straight out of the motherland” and they get on stage and start going off every other 2seconds with the “N-word,” accent and all. How would the reaction of a mostly Black-American audience be? How about a White audience?

Indeed, it is a fact that there exists a rift and divide, for decades now, between the African and Black communities here in the USA. Specifically, in this case, in the Nigerian community, the impressions of Black Americans are not exactly warm. While a Nigerian rap artist might be quick to use the N-word in his/her lyrics, they are not equally as fast to extend a hand, resources etc. to help and give back to their local black communities, for the tiny percentage who reside here and claim Naija. On the contrary, many perpetuate stereotypes of Blacks in America, cemented in mainstream media, and would, majority of the time, show more respect to a White man before they do a Black man. Indeed as KRS One said, the use of N-word is an acknowledgement that the word is in fact derogatory and oppressive. However, when it is said in such context, it also means, “do you understand my oppression, do you understand my struggle . . .would you ride with me?”

From the KRS One context alone, many Nigerian rappers should quit using the word.

Do Nigerian rappers get to use the N-word because they have black skin and are from Africa? Do Nigerian rappers appreciate and understand Black history and persecution, some of which was brought on by our ancestors in Nigeria selling our fellow black brothers and sisters into slavery?

I think the constant barage of the N-word by Black African musicians, here I focus on Nigerian rappers, should take a major chill pill if not, frankly speaking, be eliminated.

Let’s have a debate. Should Nigerian Rappers Use the “N-Word” in Their Music? I welcome complete and vigorous disagreements with me. I earn my living by disagreeing with people, sometimes quite vigorously. No offense taken. That is what a lawyer does, especially a trial lawyer. What I don’t do is name calling and insults. You insult, I hit the delete button.

Curious what your thoughts are.

WARNING: EXPLETIVES — USED. CLICK AT YOUR DISCRETION

Video Commentary on Nasty V- latest artist to use the N-word

Rapper Hasan Salaam

KRS One on Nigga


50 Cent on use of the word N-word

DJ Khaled On Using the N-word

Not unusual for some Nigerian/African rappers to sound like Vic O when they use the N-word

Lynxxx on Factory 78

#EndSars Human Rights Lawyers Panel

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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