Thursday, January 19, 2012

Should Jay-Z Stop Using The Word B*tch?!?

Over the weekend, a (supposedly) erroneous news story circulated around the web and Black Folks' Twitter. Jay-Z supposedly penned a poem about how having a daughter changed his opinion on his almost Tourette's-like use of the word "b*tch", and he'd decided to stop using it in the future. It was supposed to be Jay-Z's equivalent of Richard Pryor's N-Word epiphany, and would be a watershed moment in hip-hop history (their words, not mind) that might forever change the genre's long-insulting misogynistic undertones.
Jay-Z will purge the word “bitch” from his future lyrics, if a poem dedicated to his week-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter (and scooped by the British music site NME) is to be believed.

"Before I got in the game, made a change, and got rich/I didn’t think hard about using the word bitch/I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it/Now with my daughter in this world I curse those that give it," the rapper allegedly wrote.

The verse continues, “I never realized while on the fast track that I'd give riddance to the word bitch/To leave her innocence intact/No man will degrade her, or call her name/Forever young you may pass/Blue Ivy Carter, my angel."
Being the cynical father of a daughter-on-the-way[1] I am, I couldn't help but poke holes in the the Jigga Man's revelation. As a guy with a mom, probably a sister (I could be wrong on that one), and who'd been involved/secretly married to Beyonce for damn near a decade, you'd like he'd have understood referring to grown a$$ed women as female dogs all these years wasn't all that kosher. I mean, seriously, my dude, that's some faulty logic, it's damn near jailhouse k-nowledge level faulty logic. He was essentially saying that it's fine to make millions referring to other men's daughters as b*tches for decades, yet not-so-much when it comes to his own child.

I went on one of my infamous Twitter tirades about this, and while some folks predictably called me a hater, an overwhelming majority agreed. Besides, it's not like subbing something other than b*tch makes the overall sentiment any better.
Does "I got 99 problems, but a young lady ain't one!" really change the overall message? Ionno.

Of course, the supposed poem (allegedly) turned out to be a hoax, which depending on how you look at it, either makes Shawn Carter look better or worse. Personally, since I'm not a fan, I say it's a push.

I will, however, concur that having a child makes a man re-evaluate the world around him as well as his contributions to that world. A man who approaches fatherhood without having a single introspective thought about his actions and the adjustments he'll need to make is probably going to make some seriously bad parenting decisions down the line. Kids change us in ways we're both aware of, and subliminal ways we only catch when someone else hips us to them. Jay made a terribly superficial song about what he'd tell his future son on that godawful album he made with Kanye West, so it's perfectly natural to expect him to give far more thought to the far more frightening prospect of having a rear a daughter. As a guy going through the exact same thing right about now, I both respect and appreciate this, in principle.

In reality, I just wish he hadn't (allegedly) made such a clumsy, self-serving public spectacle of this, an instead just changed the overall content of his music and let that proverbially speak for itself.[2] I suspect that's why so many people were up in arms about his epiphany, and why he subsequently pretended there was no such epiphany in the first place.[3] You know, image, pride, and whatnot. I get it.

I realize if this post has been much ado about nothing (a rapper and a word), but in an odd way, it actually does speak to a much bigger issue. Or two. Or three. Chime in with your thoughts below.

Question: What changes (blatant or otherwise) did you make to prepare for the arrival of your child? Were your concerns different based on the child's gender? Does omitting one word from a song change the overall message? Would Jay-Z's discontinued usage of the word b*tch influence his peers to do the same? What other words would you like to see omitted from Jay-Z's vocabulary?

[1] Yup, she'll be here in May.

[2] B*tch is a good start. How about you kill the shameless product placement ("Hublot!") and use of n*gga as an all-purpose noun while you're at it, tho?

[3] I'm sure someone will mention my hypocrisy, given the B-Bomb I lobbed at Sarah Palin here after her disgraceful self-defense in wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting. I was wrong. Period. End of story.

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