It doesn’t look like we’re any closer to ignoring, embracing, or burying the n-word. Case in point: Maya Angelou is upset that Common uses the word on a collaboration between the two.
The New York Post reports:
The song “The Dreamer,” off the album “The Dreamer, The Believer,” features a poem that Angelou penned and recited at the rapper’s request. It urges people to follow their dreams, with such lines as “From Africa they lay in the bilge of slave ships / And stood half naked on auction blocks /. . . and still they dreamed.”
Common’s lyrics, however, include such lines as “Told my n—a [Kanye West] I’m ’bout to win the Grammys now” and the boast “N—as with no heart, I’m the pacemaker.”
Angelou was shocked at Common’s use of the word, which she says she has never heard him use before (a fact that makes me think she has not listened to much of his music). She called the word “vulgar and dangerous” to the black community, adding that she “admired [Common] so because he wasn’t singing the line of least resistance.”
Common responded that while it’s true that he never told her that their collaboration would include the controversial word, he and Angelou have spoken about the issue and have agreed to disagree. The two have become close in recent years and he even rapped at the Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet’s birthday party.
If you listen to the song‘s first few verses you can hear Common rap about “exquisite thick bitches” just before he drops the first n-bomb, so I find it interesting Angelou didn’t seem to have a problem with that portion as well. But we have to remember that Maya Angelou is 83 years old and comes from a completely different time; while I’d probably be fine with the n-word coming from someone as innocuous as Common, if my grandmother were still living I’m pretty sure she would not want to participate in anything involving the n-word.