“Every brother ain’t a brother/ ’cause a color could just as well be undercover” – “Welcome to the Terrordome”, Public Enemy
People have been complaining about the atrocities done in the name of Hip-Hop for decades, and how the rapper of the month has sold out to corporate interests at the expense of the culture. However, when the question becomes, “ So, whatcha gonna do about it?” there is never a definite answer.Perhaps the best example, today, is Hip-Hop’s glamour boy, Drake. The issue here is not the former kid show actor’s lack of “street cred,” nor whether you find his music irritating to the eardrums – but the fact that he drops the N-bomb in so many of his lyrics. Even on his latest track, “Enough Said” with the late Aaliyah , Drake seems to have a certain affinity for the word.
In all fairness, rappers have been saying ‘n*gga’ since the first Hip-Hop park jams, and you would be hard pressed to name one Hip-Hop artist that doesn’t use the derogatory term. But the difference with Drake is – he ain’t Black.
If you look at the Jewish mother rule, if your mama is Jewish, that makes you Jewish. And since Drake’s father is an AfricanAmerican but his mother is a white, Jewish Canadian, that makes him the latter. (I didn’t make the rule, I’m just telling you what it says.) This is also compounded by the fact that you would be hard pressed to see where Drake even identifies with the dark side of his family tree, unless you consider hangin’ out with Lil Wayne and excessive use of the N-word as evidence of his African roots.
Although, one may argue that the one drop rule and the dominance of melanin in his skin may make Drake racially “Black”, that has nothing to do with what that makes him culturally. So, what we are dealing with here is not race but the politics of cultural identity.
Who can and cannot say n*gga has long been debated in Hip-Hop. Latino entertainers like Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez have gotten by on the “Latino’s are n*ggas, too” argument, and White women like V Nasty and Gwyneth Paltrow, supposedly, have obtained signed ghetto passes from Hip-Hop’s elite, allowing them to use the word. However, it is an unwritten rap rule that, while a Black rapper can use the word at will, a White rapper is subject to a beatdown for even using “nickel” in a sentence without clarifying his statement.
And most white Hip-Hop artists aren’t that stupid. Although, they may hire Black rappers to use the word on their CDs, they will never utter the word themselves.
Case in point is when Dave Mays and Benzino, formerly of The Source Magazine went on a wild, witchhunt to find evidence of Eminem saying something even remotely disrespectful about Black people years back, and came up with nothing really tangible besides a lyric in a long lost unreleased track. But, what if the person has dark skin, but, culturally, is a card carrying member of another ethnic group? Should he be given a pass to use racial slurs without being called on it?Herein lies the Drake dilemma.
There is a certain amount of hypocrisy surrounding Drake’s use of the word. Although he will, undoubtedly, use the Black half of his genetic makeup to justify using the N-word, I doubt very seriously if he would ever use his Jewish half to justify using the “K” or “H” word. Nor would he hide behind the First Amendment and get a swastika tatted on his arm. Nor should he. However, if Drake did use anti-Jewish terms with the same frequency as he uses anti-Black terms, he would not be celebrated in the media as the greatest thing in Hip-Hop since Run DMC, but would be demonized in the press for “spewing venomous hate speech “ and forever condemned as an anti-Semite on some organization’s hate group list. To date, nobody has tagged him an “anti-Hamite” or “anti-Khemite.”
Every ethnic group has the God-given right to defend its culture; that is the only way to secure its survival for future generations. However, it becomes problematic when the blatant disrespect of a culture is roundly applauded on one side but, vehemently, condemned on the other.
Ultimately, it is not Drake’s fault for disrespecting the Black community. Nor does the fault fall at the feet of any individual commercial Hip-Hop artist. The blame lies with every rapper who grabs a mic, every Hip-Hop writer with a laptop, and every Hip-Hop fan who listens to the radio…because we co-sign the madness.
Even the most militant critic who continuously blasts the state of Hip-Hop would become a 13-year-old teenage girl if Drake just looked in his direction.
“OMG…Like…did you see the way that Drake just smiled at me? Awwww!”
At some point, we have to begin to stand on principles.
Like Drake asked on the Aaliyah song, “Is this even still a discussion?/ don’t you ever wake up disgusted?”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his website, www. NoWarningShotsFired.com. Follow Paul on Twitter (@truthminista).