The N-word has always been taboo. So taboo in fact, that it only requires the first letter for you to know exactly where the conversation is likely to go. Growing up, whenever the word came up in a literary text, students, especially white students, would look to the teacher for the go-ahead to utter this particular word. This is unsurprising, as most people only ever really learn about oppressive years of the slave trade and think that encapsulates black people and our experience, regardless of geography. When spoken out loud surrounded by a deafening silence, this word is jarring enough to stay with you for the rest of the day.
However, this is not the case when it is said within the confines of a song. The N-word being used while underscored by a heavy beat seems to be a loophole everyone is eager to exploit. A second thought is not given to appreciate the harrowing past of this word. And how it can be a reminder of the past for listener even if the word is used with auto tune. There is not a moment of pause given because it no longer sounds violent. On a few different occasions, white people have felt no qualms about using the N-word in my presence- and in every single instance, it has been used while singing/rapping along to a song.