The N-word in music : an American history /

Publication Type:



McFarland & Company,, Jefferson, North Carolina, United States, p.ix, 257 pages : (2022)

Call Number:



(OCoLC)fst00799115, (OCoLC)fst00799734, (OCoLC)fst01030478, (OCoLC)fst01030486, (OCoLC)fst01071460, (OCoLC)fst01086654, African American comedians., African Americans in popular culture., bisacsh, fast, History., MUSIC / History & Criticism., Music and language, Music and language., Music and race, Music and race., Popular music, Racism in language, Racism in language., Social aspects, Social aspects., SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / American / African American & Black Studies., United States


Includes bibliographical references and index.The N-Word's Musical Contours -- Out of Music : The N-Word's Material, Environmental, and Social Contours -- John Lennon's N-Word Moment -- Interlude. Diverse Opinions -- Philosorock : John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and Other White Musicians Who Sing the N-Word -- Black Demystification, White Bewilderment : Transformation and Numbing in Black Comedy and Black Music -- Muhammad Ali, Rap, and That Word -- A Hip-Hop Icon -- A Sensible Rule : A Case Study -- Inviting Destruction Beyond the Music -- Conclusion. Welcome to the Conversation, Country Music."The minstrelsy play, song, and dance "Jump, Jim Crow" did more than enable blackface performers to spread racist stereotypes about Black Americans. This widespread antebellum-era cultural phenomenon was instrumental in normalizing the N-word across several aspects of American life. Material culture, sporting culture, consumer products, house-pets, carnival games and even geographic landmarks obtained the racial slur as a formal and informal appellation. Music, it is argued, was the catalyst for normalizing and disseminating those two ugly syllables throughout society, well beyond the environs of plantation and urban slavery. This weighty and engaging look at the English language's most explosive slur, described by scholars as the "atomic bomb" of bigoted words, traces the N-word's journey through various music genres and across generations. The author uses private letters, newspaper accounts, exclusive interviews and, most importantly, music lyrics from artists in the fields of minstrelsy, folk, country, ragtime, blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and hip hop. The result is a reflective account of how the music industry has channeled linguistic and cultural movements across eras, resulting in changes to the slur's meaning and spelling"--