“Who is the cat going out on the town/
that let the movie industry turn his shit around?/”

-Ron Mexico, "Mr. Nigga [No More]"

Mr. Nigga! Smart-dumb nigga!

See, shit like this is why Mos Def was in the SDN Tournament.

“It was something that was very important to us… It was our way of making a statement that we can express ourselves without using the N-word. But it wasn’t just in the movie that we banned the word. We also banned it on the set. No one could say it at all. At first it was difficult, but we really stayed on top of each other. By the end of … filming, I don’t know if it was something that even came up. We just didn’t say it, and had no desire to. I hope that other people will start trying to find new ways to express themselves as well.”

Wood Harris, Rolling Out Magazine

By “us”, Sherwood Harris means the Zulu Gestapo N-word Taskforce consisting of himself, Mos Def, Mike Epps and Donald FaisonNext Day Air’s highest-billed cast members.

I’d like to know how they got Mike Epps to refrain from saying “nigga” for weeks on end. Nigga must have been backsliding like a newly-bowtied Nation of Islam member. I mean, sometimes you forget grandma-nana puts hamhocks in the collard greens, right? Could you picture this nigga policing niggas to not say "nigga"?

Caterer 1: *carrying grill table* [To Caterer 2] Got damn! This fuckin hibachi heavy than a mawfucka! I'm sweatin' my balls off.

Caterer 2: *also carrying loaded grill table* Hell yea. I still can't believe fuckin Gangstalicious and Day-Day demanded all this shit!

Caterer 1: Them niggas is wylin.

Mike Epps: *excitedly to both caterers* Did y'all niggas just say what I think y'all said? Y'all mawfuckas know we ain't sayin "nigga" no more. Obama is president. It's about to be a unicorn jizz shower any minute. Y'all niggas should be ashamed of y'allselves.

Caterer 2: *reluctantly* You right. Won't happen again.

Mike: *mocking slave talk* Won't hap'n again. *flashing signature grin* Fuckin better not, nigga. And don't be askin no questions 'bout why we got a mawfuckin hana grill on set. We got some fat bitches comin by after we done shootin.

I’d also like to know who they think will watch an All About The Benjamins rehashing that doesn’t include the word “nigga”.

Even the staunchest, most indignant quasi-progressives want to see that much, my nigga.

I find great irony in Harris serving as the face of such a statement. What happened, Ace? Did Mitch’s death change everything? Niggas get shot e’y day, bee. You’ll be aight, nigga. You tough, right? ... You know what? You just need a little more rest, bee. Cover up. Get you some soup. Some tea. In the meantime, perhaps I should ask Avon Barksdale. Up in this bitch, he’s what you might consider… an authority figure.

[Blogger’s Note: Avon, I'm likely to believe. It’s Stringer’s word that’s shit.]

Much of The Wire’s greatness comes in its ability to portray the streets realistically without losing much in translation. This includes authentic language. Had The Wire not undertaken due diligence in this regard, the series would have been cancelled after its second season at the latest. In fact, had The Wire not undertaken due diligence in this regard, Sher-wouldn’t have such a lucrative career as a B-movie all-star goon.

[Blogger's Note: See what I did there? That's wordplay!]

As performers and content developers, we often find moral quandary in search of social responsibility, as it were. Dave Chappelle walked away from a $50 million Comedy Central deal for this reason. Richard Pryor became the black Chevy Chase for a while after a trip to the motherland. Bill Cosby--… Well, that nigga was always a coon, but you feel me. I assure you that no consolation or victory comes of an assault on language. Next Day Air’s band of rapster-slash-Sharptons need be more concerned with the film’s overall message and potentially poisonous imagery than with how many times their characters say the vilest word ever uttered.

I sleep comfortably at night knowing that my comedy and social commentary therein come with the best of intentions. Through this medium, language becomes a powerful tool with which we can simultaneously inform and entertain. Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides is one of hip-hop’s finest examples of such edutainment. What would revisiting Mos’ discography and eradicating the magic word accomplish, aside from further emasculating a man who ascended to the throes of the wealthy and oblivious on a platform of lower-middle class rebellion?

There are a myriad of reasons as to why people avoid the term in question. While I respect most of them, many such restrictions appease a certain sense of guilt better contested with real social progress. I’m thinking that shit’d be entirely too difficult, though. As with any form of speech, I use the word “nigga” differently on a case-by-case basis. For example, unless I want a rolling pin to the face, I don’t use the term in my grandma-nana's presence, despite the fact that I overhear her referring to fellow church members as “cricket-ass nig-a-rows”. When I’m with my niggas, “nigga” is openly used a term of endearment signifying the highest esteem.

We do a lot of great things with “nigga”. I won’t lambaste you with the whole “we done flipped it and turned a negative to a positive" cliché. However, words only have the power they’re given by intention. I’d rather be called a nig-gerrr with the “-er” suffix than be undermined and patronized by the polite, hollow language of an actual racist. To undermine your audience’s intelligence this way is not only unfair, but reeks of the very coonery a statement like an imposed moratorium on a mere collection of letters intends to combat.

Nigga, please.

Besides, if language evolves continuously, why can’t my niggas? Hmm. Maybe a nigga should save his energy and leave natural selection to its work.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Still Mr. Nigga? I don’t find it surprising. ron@ronmexicocity.com