How Many “Niggas” Does it Take to Say Something?
If you're Nicki Minaj, 42 times should do the trick.
How many niggas does it take to talk about the word “nigga”?
Let me rephrase that: How many “nigga/niggas” does it take in order for someone to say something about the word “nigga”?
If you’re a white guy, then one “nigga” is enough to get someone’s attention, especially if you’re standing in the middle of Harlem. If you’re Nicki Minaj, about 42 “niggas” should do the trick.
In her song “Lookin Ass Nigga,” the curvaceous and scantily clad emcee drops the “N word” – singular and plural forms – a combined total of 42 times. At least that’s what I counted when I took a tally. (I didn’t feel like using Rap Genius and taking a tally was more fun.) Without “niggas” the song and music video is dope. Nicki is lookin amazing, the beat is fuego, and director Nabil Elderkin does what he does best – delivers killer visuals. However, the rampant use of the word “nigga” distracts the listener from the message Nicki is trying to convey; it’s only during the niggaless interludes (1:10 & 2:09) that we’re able to pay attention to the track.
The word “nigga” has been used in rap since “niggas” been rapping. But does that give an emcee like Nicki Minaj the right to throw the word around like fucking rice at a wedding? Yes.
Nicki Minaj has the right to say whatever she wants, and bring as much “nigga” rice to a wedding as she wants. However, like all emcees she needs to realize that instead of taking away the stigma eternally attached to the n-word, she’s empowering others to use it. And some of those people being empowered to use the n-word lack direction as to where the use of the word falls on their moral compass.
You see Nicki Minaj has an extremely diverse fan base – #TeamMinaj doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, age and especially not gender – so statistically you’re just as likely to catch a white guy from the ‘burbs humming Barbz’ “Beez In The Trap” as a black girl from Brooklyn. But with great diversity comes great responsibility, word to Uncle Ben (I’m not talking about the “nigga” with the rice).
Nicki Minaj owes it to her fans to avoid putting them in situations where they’re likely to catch a thorough beatdown on account of dropping the N-Bomb, or in this case 42 N-Bombs. However, doing so would mean that Nicki Minaj should be held on a different level of accountability than other rappers just because she’s successful. And that’s just fucking ridiculous.
Back in 2007, a soon-to-be successful (read ringtone-rap successful) group of emcees from Chicago by the name of Hotstylz released a record called “Lookin’ Ass Nigga.” The song was essentially a game of snaps but on wax. The only rule: make a ridiculous (yet hilarious) comparison then say, “lookin’ ass nigga.”
The song was so successful that in 2008 Hotstylz teamed up with then successful (read ringtone-and-stupid-ass-dance successful) rapper Yung Joc for a remix, which they decided to ironically title “Lookin’ Boy.” (Great, you avoided the whole “you can’t say the n-word on TV” dilemma by replacing it with a word that also holds racist connotations.)
Did anyone bat an eye when Hotstylz dropped “Lookin’ Ass Nigga”? Maybe, but I was too busy laughing at how hilarious the song was to notice.
Should we hold Nicki to a different standard than Hotstylz, or anyone else for that matter? No. However, I think many will (including myself) because she’s a female emcee with mass appeal. All eyes are on Nicki. Some glued to her ass (as she points out in the song), some her foul-mouth and others to the overall image she presents to young females. So when she says “nigga” – especially 42 times — it bounces off the bedrooms of pre-pubescent teens throughout America, whether they reside in housing projects or in the suburbs.
Nicki Minaj is competing for the throne in the male-dominated genre of rap, while sitting at an extremely small round table of female pop superstars. She’s in the process of proving to everyone that she’s just as good as the boys, while proving to herself that she’s better than everyone.
Is Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin Ass Nigga” a cry for attention, a warning shot at her peers, or pure braggadocios? If you ask me, it’s Ron Burgundy staring at himself in the mirror exclaiming, “Hey everyone, come and see how good I look!” She’s emphasizing how great she is, which alludes to the fact that she’s actually insecure – just like the rest of us.
You don’t need to drop “nigga/niggas” 42 times in a song to prove a point. But then again, I just did it 26 times to prove mine.
For another opinion on the matter from Mass Appeal’s Editorial Director Sacha Jenkins SHR, click here.