Thinking, hoping, that this song was just an anomaly, I scrolled down the playlist and clicked on another song at random, this one called “Spazz Out” by a rapper named Yo Gotti. Thanks again to the magic of YouTube, here’s an online version, followed by the lyrics:
Yo Gotti – Spazz Out
Hey, shout out to my Chicago niggers,
shout out to my Detroit niggers,
shout out to by Pittsburgh niggers,
Shout out to my VA niggers,
my New York niggers,
one time to my LA niggers,
man you know, my down south Alambama Mississippi Tennessee, God damn it,
my Carolina niggers,
my ATL niggers,
oh God damn it 1 2 3 4 5 6.
You know what I mean, I fuck with a lot of real niggers all over the world, my nigger, you know what I’m saying?
Been a lot of places, done a lot of shit these puss-ass niggers can’t do.
So salute all my real niggers,
salute all my bad bitches.
This is what I do it for, nigger.
Anything less than that, I don’t give a fuck.
Yeah, I said it, bitch.
I just talked to Boosey mama, she fucked up.
She know I’m playing for ya, dog —
keep your head up.
Now just called to the scene,
young niggers deal with it.
So this summer, it’s gon’ be a killing.
Plus I got the feeling
some pussy ass rapper gon’ try to play me,
and record label might not try to pay me.
Well fuck it, I’ma spazz out,
I think I’ma spazz out,
I’m going crazy.
I just talk to my lil homie, he say he asked that.
He got a chopper and I know he ’bout to spazz that.
He [put that white up for a minute] but they [graz] that.
I’m going [green] on ‘em
My block a cash cow.
I put that [white up drop that black] and broke they man-sac.
These niggers still talking ig’nint
Im’a crash that.
I’m ’bout to crash out,
I’m ’bout to crash out.
A brand new Beemer, brand new phone
A nigger [ask that].
And if I have to shoot a nigger,
don’t take no bail out.
I kept scrolling and clicking on different songs — Stat Quo’s “Can’t Take The Ghetto Out Of Me,” then “Cemetery Pockets” by OJ Da Juiceman, then Lil B’s “Green Card” — but it was relentless. Every single song was a hailstorm of “niggers.” Before I handed the iPod back to her I sampled one more, “What’s Happenin’” by Webbie, and it briefly seemed like I had found at least one nigger-free song, but sadly after a slow start the song kicked into overdrive and eventually clocked in (as I later counted) with no fewer than 51 instances of “nigger” in the lyrics.
Now, throughout my entire life, not only have I never once enunciated the word “nigger,” for any reason, but I also can’t recall even having heard anyone else ever say it, aside from teenagers on the streets of Oakland using it as a sort of all-purpose greeting. I’ve certainly never heard it used as an insult or an epithet. Maybe I’ve been lucky, growing up in California neighborhoods where there was never any racial conflict or hostility. In my experience, the near-universal social ban on the grotesquely offensive word “nigger” had been entirely effective, since I had never encountered it used in anger or spoken by a non-black person.
And yet here I was at a picnic table having my brain repeatedly punched by one of the ugliest words in the English language.