Kendrick Lamar: I Can't Stop Saying the N-Word

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar: I Can't Stop Saying the N-Word

"I don’t know if I'm there mentally," he tells NME.

Published July 17, 2015

Coming off the first half of 2015 (Black History Month, Black Music Month and those moments when Chet Haze and Obama became the center of the N-word debate), Kendrick Lamar admits he's still caught in a conundrum about how he identifies himself and his brethren. 

He tells NME that even after a trip to Africa, which was vocabulary-changing for Richard Pryor, the Compton-bred rapper just can't stop saying "n***a."

"The closest I can do to stopping is putting the root word, 'negus,' on my album," he said. "But I don’t know if I'm there mentally to stop saying the N-word yet. I dunno, maybe one day. That’s 27 years of reversing that word — I probably been saying that since I was one year old."


Granted, he did self-censor at the 2015 BET Awards, replacing the n-word in his song "Alright" with "hitta," and as he mentioned, he gives another perspective of its use on "i," when he says, "Well, this is my explanation straight from Ethiopia / N-E-G-U-S definition: royalty; King royalty – wait, listen / N-E-G-U-S, description: Black emperor, King, ruler. Now let me finish / The history books overlook the word and hide it / America tried to make it to a house divided / The homies don't recognize we been using it wrong / So I'ma break it down and put my game in a song."

Lyrically, he begs the question: If we've been using it wrong, why not use it right?

However, Lamar doesn't explore much more about why he's considering to "maybe one day" please the Oprahs of the world, but he does go on to say that even with his newfound fame, he's comfortable in his skin. “Thing is, I can never be the artist who raps, ‘N****s hate me in the hood ’cos I’m rich,’ because I never really felt that type of hate. There was always a mutual understanding,” he said.

If you haven't seen it, watch Kendrick Lamar's debut performance of "Alright" at the 2015 BET Awards in the video below. is your No. 1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.

(Photo: Jordi Vidal/Redferns via Getty Images)

Written by Chay Liberté


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