I’m listening to Ayo (Chris Brown & Tyga) right now, and I’m wondering why they use the N-word in their lyrics.

I thought that the N-word is insulting (and you’re likely to get beaten up if you say it in NY or LA for example).

Why are these rappers using it in their lyrics if it’s an insulting word?


3 Answers 3


This is a complex word and there have been whole books written about it.

A simple answer to your question would be that although it can be an offensive term for a black person, it is also often used by black people when speaking to each other as a term of affection or fellowship, partly as a reference to the struggles that black peoples have been through at various times in recent history.

From a musical point of view it is also quite easy to fit into a rhythmic vocal delivery.


See Tim Minchin's 'Prejudice' for a full explanation of the concept of taking ownership of something initially used as an insult.



Though also in rap like for example Nicki Minaj's song Lookin Ass, she uses the n-word quite frequently in a "oh these who are below me" manner, so sometimes the n-word can be used negatively in rap, no offence to Nicki Minaj, but yes sometimes it can be negative.


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