- Category: Poetry
- Written by Jim Dee
Okay, now to get back to the Kanye West discussion ... The specific lyrics I wanted to look at more closely are: "Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger, / But she ain't messin' wit no broke niggaz." It'll take a number of translational steps to get to the root of this thing, so let's dive right in. The first step toward "understanding" (if that's possible) is to tidy up the grammar just a bit. So, you get something like this: "Now, I'm not saying she's a gold digger. But, she isn't messing with broke n*ggers."
Frankly, I'm not sure whether a translation into proper English would use the traditional "n" word like that, or if West's use of "niggaz" was meant as the plural form of the singular "nigga" (which is generally regarded as less offensive than its counterpart with the "er" suffix). Compounding this pesky problem is the fact that most people probably have not heard the actual lyric for themselves.Many radio stations have policies that require them to play altered versions of songs to avoid transmitting any potentially offensive lyrics. This explains the preponderance of overdubbed animal noises, scratching sounds, and even awkward skips in such records where someone has edited a song to make it playable over the public airwaves. I tried going directly to the source --kanyewest.com --to find the lyrics for myself, but was unable to find a definitive answer there, either.He does have the video posted -- and even on his own site, the word "niggaz" (if that's the word) has been rendered inaudible.
According to internet lyrics sites, though, the word is "niggaz."This is interesting to me because that final "z" clearly indicates a plural. So, the girl in question (who is being accused of dating someone solely for the person's money) is "messing" with more than one person.
At first, even though I never heard the uncensored version, I suspected that this should probably be "nigga" instead of "niggaz." In other words, the translation would be something like:"Now, I'm not accusing her of being a gold-digger. However, she isn't involved with someone who is poor." That someone, in that case, would be the fictitious narrator. He'd effectively be saying, "I don't believe my girlfriend is with me simply for my money. But, then again, I *am * a person of substantial wealth." From there, the subject would have to ask himself whether it would be prudent to think twice about his girlfriend's motives. Or, it could be a matter of pride.In other words, "I'm not going to accuse her of being a gold-digger. Even though I'm a wealthy man, I believe she's with me because she actually loves me --not just the Mercedes."
However, if it IS in fact a plural ("niggaz" with a "z"), then the meaning might change. Instead of this girl being the girlfriend of the speaker, it could be that the girl is simply someone about whom he is offering commentary --perhaps directed at friends or colleagues. In this instance, it would be like saying, "I'm not going to outright accuse this girl of dating only wealthy individuals. However, it is nonetheless interesting to note that she tends to date only highly successful men."
Perhaps others would find West's message a bit less ambiguous. Given a more thorough explication, perhaps the meaning is clear. Or, perhaps the ambiguity is intended as part of the artistic statement. Certainly, the man can be crystal clear when he wants. He seemed pretty clear when he stated on national television that George Bush hates black people. (Personally, I agree with West on that count. I don't think Dubya knows that he hates black people --but I think he probably does in a more or less passive way.) But, the question I started to explore yesterday was whether the above song was a "gimme Grammy."
Well, I guess I took you on a ride through the above analysis for nothing because I don't think it helps to answer the "gimme Grammy" question. Personally, I don't think anything's a "gimme" in this world. There's luck ... There's chance ... And, there's hard work. But, people do get to feeling awfully entitled, don't they?
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On August 1, 2007, wrote:
On August 2, 2007, wrote:
Insightful commentary. Worthy of further research, no doubt.