KSLA News 12 examines the N-word in music

By Tracy Clemons – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- The N-word is a touchy subject that not many people talk about. One that often sparks fiery debate. If you listen to Hip Hop music, you're bound to hear it throughout a whole song. 50 Cent's "In Da Club" is one of the biggest rap hits of the last decade. In the four minute song, he says the n-word 10 times.

"I think it's a word that's probably obsolete now. Unfortunately it's kept alive by the music industry," says Rod Demery of Shreveport.

The industry's international Hip Hop artists like 50 Cent, and local artists like the Klocks, out of Texas. The Klocks is a white band that performs "In Da Club" when they rock the stage at Celebrity Lounge inside El Dorado casino.

We showed a youtube clip of them performing the song to a group of students at Wiley College. Wiley senior, Charmaine Hudson, says she heard the word several times in the short clip we showed. And she says The Klocks are well within their right, as artists, to use it.

"They're doing the song, and they're saying the n-word. You can't really get upset because 50-Cent said it."

Some take offense to a white band using the word in their music. But many, like Rod Demery, say the word carries a double standard.

"It's ridiculous to think that if the word is used, and it's promoted and touted and worn as a badge of honor, and someone else uses it that somehow they're not supposed to use it."

Hip Hop mogul Jay-Z addressed the word in an interview with Oprah in 2009-"People give words power. And for our generation, what we did is we took the word and we took the power out of that word. We turned a word that was very ugly and hurtful into a term of endearment."

So is it ok for black rappers to use it and not white artists? That depends on who you ask.

"If I was to cover a song with that word in it, I'd probably find a replacement for that word because I don't personally feel comfortable saying it," says Eric Gardner.

"It is kind of a cultural thing. The African American community has more of a right to say it. But my mom always taught me not to say it," adds Nick Brumley.

Brumley and Gardner are musicians from Marshall, Texas.

"In a black artist like 50 Cent or whoever it might be, there's a cultural stigma that's attached to that word, and I feel like they have more license to use it than a white person does," Gardner says.

He tells KSLA News 12 that he can't imagine a situation where it would be appropriate for him to use it in his music.

Therein lies the double standard that frustrates Rod Demery: "If you create your own environment and kind of separate yourself by the use of derogatory language, derogatory music, and then get offended by somebody else that does it....I just don't get it."

If there is a solution to this age-old issue, Charmaine Hudson says it's simple: "I understand that we should get upset, but I don't get upset anymore because if that's the case, then none of us should use it."

We made several attempts to speak with The Klocks about what goes into their decision to use the word, or if there's any thought to it at all as a cover band. They declined each request.

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