Houston Forward Times

18 July 2013 Written by  Amarie Gipson

Hip Hop Music and the “N” Word

The Issue: The ‘N’ word evolved from one of the most derogatory terms in history and has become a universally common word. From the 17th to the 21st century, the nuance of the word “negro” has drastically transformed.  Initially used to dehumanize the psyche of black slaves, the word has become a staple of casual conversations. It is a term used by all nationalities across the world, and mostly by those who have no idea about its controversial historical background. Over the decades, the word has moved into a new era being used in an even larger abundance by a diverse range of people. Who exactly is to blame for this urban revolution?  Hip hop, arguably the most influential music genre in the world, has morphed its connotation.

Question: How has hip-hop music contributed to the acceptance and constant usage of the “N” word amongst today’s generations?

 rsz img 0407 Marlon Chapman Jr. - “Hip hop has been a major force in how we as young  African-Americans perceive ourselves. The ‘N’ word is common in the hip hop world. The meaning is different now from then. Today it is used to describe someone as ‘my brother’ rather than  something belittling.”

 rsz img 0406 

 Pastor Michael Pender - “It has helped create an atmosphere that accepts the word. Rap music helps make it okay. People have been using it for years, but today’s generation isn’t aware of the meaning.”

rsz img 0413  Kela Futurelle - “Hip hop makes people more comfortable with saying the ‘N’ world without knowing exactly what it means. It saddens me to hear my fellow African Americans using it so freely, and embracing it.”

 rsz img 0418  Dwight Allen - “It made the ‘N’ word a household word. It has become desensitized, and lost the true meaning of what it actually is. When I hear a younger person using that word, I have to stop and address them to let them know it shouldn’t be used freely or at all.”

 What do I think? 


Hip hop is extremely influential in the way our generation lives. It reaches and appeals to many different groups of people usually addressing their struggles.  Hip hop music has taken the ‘N’ word and transformed it into a socially acceptable term. When a rap artist uses the term in song lyrics, fans recite those lyrics and embrace the term. Those who idolize hip hop artists usually follow their lead, ignoring their own beliefs and worth. The music has been a vital source in the widespread usage of the word, but not the reason it is socially accepted.
Many African Americans have ignored the derivation, and continue to use the word. Some would argue that the word is an imprint into our racial psyches; others say it is a conscious choice to embrace it.

MAA WereReady