A lot of P&P’s readers will likely glance at the title of this song and just as quickly write it off. In the distorting vacuum of the internet, prevailing attitudes towards songs like “Young N*gga” and rappers like Que are usually as follows. Either critics assume no value can be taken from something so seemingly ignorant and unoriginal, or they take a “like it for what it is” approach. Some assume that listeners can only like this sort of music ironically, that the Chief Keefs, Gucci Manes, and Trinidad James’s of the world dance around for the delight of an audience whose “love” is laced with snark.
While the internet can tell you the temperature of an artist or song (you didn’t need to leave the comfort of your home and see the mask-bearing billboards across the country to know that Daft Punk was a big deal), it is a faulty barometer. The internet can’t take you to the clubs in Atlanta, can’t tell you that “Young N*gga” connecting with live flesh-and-blood listeners in contexts where hits have been broken time after time. If you know a bit about rap, southern gangsta rap in particular, you probably know what to expect out of Que’s street single. The chorus to the rapper’s tribute to his young goons?
“Young nigga, young nigga, young nigga young nigga young nigga
Young nigga, I stay with the pistols, I hang with drug dealers, guerillas and killers
Young nigga, young nigga, young nigga young nigga young nigga
Young nigga, I stay with the pistols, I hang with drug dealers, guerillas and killers”
Timeless poetry? Perhaps not, but it’s catchy as all hell, a reminder that the most hooks that stay with us run along that razor’s edge between easy memorability and incessant repetition, with a sprinkling of unexpected words and phrasings to keep the ear alert. “Young N*gga” is energetically nihilistic, an increasingly common attitude in modern gangsta music. Without its infectious hook, it would be consigned to the DatPiff scrap heap that so many similar songs inhabit. Let’s call it proof of life outside the blogosphere (in case you needed it).
Check out a live in club performance of “Young N*gga” below.