UPDATE: Since the publishing of this post, MyBrownBaby has learned that Jay-Z most likely did not announce that he would no longer use the word “b*tch” in his lyrics. However, we at MyBrownBaby feel that this story’s relevancy remains the same, particularly since critics of the rapper have used the rumor as an excuse not only to bash Jay-Z, but to state loudly and clearly that people—celebrities in particular—should not be afforded the right to change and grow. In that spirit, we stand by our opinion on the issue.
By NICK CHILES
I was miffed to witness the wall of condemnation rain down on Jay-Z after he announced that he was no longer going to use the word “bitch” in his music. It was as if the man had no right to attempt to grow, to mature, to acknowledge that the birth of his and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy could fundamentally change a man in ways that he could never predict or expect.
Yes, the use of words like “bitch” by a generation of rappers has definitely contributed to a baseline disrespect that we often see these days between males and females in our community. And yes, Jay-Z, as one of the most influential rappers of all time, has played a significant role in perpetrating this disrespect among a whole generation of young black men.
But are we not going to allow the man to grow, to change his views over time? Is it not possible that when a powerful figure like Jay-Z comes forward and renounces his previously misogynistic ways, that it may have an even bigger impact than if he had never used the word at all? Because surely we don’t believe that if Jay-Z had never uttered the word in a rap song, it wouldn’t still be flowing freely through hip hop like youknowwhat through a goose. But perhaps this choice he is making now might give pause to some of his peers. Maybe some teen on the verge of rap superstardom may realize he doesn’t need to include this word in his lexicon.
I am a father of two girls. I understand that rappers like Jay-Z have contributed to the difficult and sometimes hateful environment that my girls were born into. I am not pleased about that. Surely they don’t bear all the responsibility, but they have not helped.
The second my first daughter was born, everything changed for me, even more than with the birth of my son seven years earlier. It became much clearer that I was going to be more afraid of the craziness that swirled around us. I realized that to a considerable degree, the culture was going to be my co-parent. Why can’t we give Jay-Z that same room to grow, to make similar discoveries and act upon them? Repentance is a significant foundation of most world religions. It is one of the personal philosophies that allows most of us to get through our complicated, mistake-filled days. And there is a considerable history of this kind of growth and change among some of our most revered African American icons. Malcolm X stopped calling white people “devils” after he had a chance to travel the world and meet white Muslims. Richard Pryor stopped using the word “nigger” in his comedy routines after a similar awakening. It happens all the time. It is the essence of what it means to be human—to be evolving, to be changing and maturing. The essence of what happens when you become a true man, a father, an elder.
Let us applaud the man for banishing the word “bitch” from his keen, insightful music. We will all be the better for it.
1. Jay-Z’s Song for Blue Ivy
2. Daddy Denied: Jay-Z Says Fatherlessness Made Him Delay Becoming A Dad
3. Beyonce Is Still Pregnant…And Other Things You Need To Know
4. Congratulations Beyonce & Jay-Z: Welcome to the MyBrownBaby Crew!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.