Rapper Aminé on People Reciting the N-Word in His Songs: ‘If You Ain’t Black Don’t Say It’

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The Portland rapper Aminé scored a huge internet hit with the song “Caroline.” Proof is the large number of people, many who weren’t Black, who sung the lyrics during a recent concert, even though he uses the n-word.

Aminé also performed the cut on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” a short time ago, but this time he had a message for his non-black fans about using the n-word. 

“If you ain’t Black, don’t say it,” he said in place of the lyrics “Westside n—- bar.”

The rapper’s statement comes shortly after a video of writer Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about white people using the n-word while he addressed a crowd at Evanston Township High School in Illinois.

“Northwestern has this concert with Lil Uzi Vert. He uses the n-word profusely,” a woman from the audience said to Coates. “There was an email sent out to students who went to this concert, saying you don’t have a right to use this word, which I 100 percent agree with. I don’t know what to do when I hear my friends use this word in a song.”

“Words don’t have a meaning without context,” the writer responded. “My wife refers to me as honey. That’s accepted and okay between us. If we were walking down the street together and a strange woman referred to me as honey, that wouldn’t be acceptable.”

Coates then used his wife in another example.

“My wife with her girlfriends will use the word ‘b-tch,'” he explained. “I do not join in. I don’t do that and more importantly I don’t have a desire to do it.”

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The topic of the n-word being used outside of the Black community has been a highly debated one — especially as it pertains to people reciting rap lyrics.

In September of this year, a group of white women from the Alpha Phi Sorority at the University of New Hampshire yelled the n-word while they sung Kanye West’s 2005 song “Gold Digger.”

“I ain’t saying she a gold digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke niggas,” the women recited.

Afterwards, the university said it planned to investigate the sorority, but there’s been no word as to what action, if any, has been carried out.  

Depending on what era of hip-hop you come from, you may look at Kanye’s “Gold Digger” as a prime example of a mainstream rap song that used the n-word and was sung by all races.

The cut was definitely a smash hit, and it spent 10 weeks on the Billboard charts. Arguably, it was also one of the first signs that the Chicago MC was becoming bigger than hip-hop and entering pop territory.   

Then in 2011, Kanye and JAY-Z released “N—– in Paris,” which became another song that had millions of people singing the n-word, regardless of race. It was something that Kanye talked about during a 2015 interview on Clique TV.

“It’s difficult for Black people right now,” he said. “Because we’re still in a generation that remembers when racism was a big thing that held people back and now it’s more classism, where your financial standing is what can hold you back … It’s true that white people use that word at concerts … I do feel that in the future it will be more widely accepted for like a younger generation that doesn’t deal with the negative effects of it, and I’m on a similar mission of breaking down these words and these stereotypes and this imagery.”

Usage of the n-word in rap songs also caused a stir in the sports world recently, when retired journalist Peter Vecsey responded to an altercation between LeBron James and the New York Knicks’ Enes Kanter during a game. Vecsey used the n-word to refer to James but did it by paraphrasing the Notorious B.I.G.’s cut “N—– Bleed.”

“Imagine him being scared of a n—- who breathes the same air as him,” he tweeted.

After much backlash, Vecsey didn’t apologize and gave a lot of pushback. “So white people can’t quote rap lyrics? Can’t sing them? Bull,” he wrote.

As for Aminé, he received praise for the parameters he laid regarding the n-word.  “I actually love him,” one person wrote on his Instagram page. “Yes. You are a f—- king,” wrote another.

Aminé himself hasn’t made any further comments about his statement at the “Tiny Desk Concert.”

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