Years ago I wrote a spoken word piece for the Ehalakasa slam competition in 2014 called “Bitch, Nigga, Shit”. I was worried about how the poem and myself will be received by the audience as Ghana is a country that likes to see itself as conservative.
This I believe stems from religious beliefs in the country and the desire by a majority to seem pious. The colorful language in vernacular, pidgin, and western slang I hear daily being used to create a Jollof of insults and expressions, however, shift my moral perception of the country. Let’s face it, we Ghanaians can be pretty vulgar.
The poem begins with me screaming out the title of words tagged as expletives.
“BITCH! NIGGA! SHIT!”
The utterance will usually divide a room with many asking silently whether the space they are in is for poetry or a hip-hop rap battle. The content of the poem however quickly paves way for my intentions.
Words are complicated elements that are often thought of as aspects we see and hear. A closer look, however, reveals that words are felt. Words are transformative. Words are MAGIC!
As a result, people have an attitude toward words. Despite what the dictionary will tell you, a word often used to relay the positive can be interpreted as offensive or negative due to the manner in which the word was used or uttered. Sarcasm is usually the culprit in these proceedings. Culture, environment, stereotypes, and biases also play a role in how we as a people interpret words.
I thus try to be open-minded with words. It’s no easy feat but I make the effort to read between the lines, giving speakers and writers the benefit of the doubt. Asking questions where possible to clarify meaning.
Communication is not supposed to be this complicated but it often is. From corporate bodies to relationships among peers and loved ones, communication can be a strength or a weakness building or damaging bonds.
Comprehension of this uncanny relationship with words challenges the Creative in me to come across in a manner where my audience will interpret correctly what it is I am communicating. It’s an art form that I believe with dedication can evolve one’s creations and presence in spaces.
As a poet and rapper, the goal of the pieces I create can be multiple. Sometimes meaning is derived from your art that is plausible yet, never was your intention. It’s this freaky aspect of poetry and rap that’s a turn-on for me.
The poem “Bitch, Nigga, Shit” aims to showcase this dilemma with words. Words are multipurpose assets that can easily transform into liabilities. They are nonbinary and have a spectrum of meanings. We all have our favorites and others we consider poisonous to society and worthy of evaporation.
(I wish the word “bitch” will just dissolve)
As I celebrate the 5-year anniversary of my album WTF? which is home to the poem “Bitch, Nigga, Shit” and its remix. I am reminded of the relationship we all have with words. I am reminded of how we are biased toward them. How some of us are racist towards a word whose meaning is more than that which some choose to judge it by. I am reminded of the power I wield as a creative who uses words as paint to create canvases of art. I am reminded of all this and wonder, how much more I need to go as a wordsmith to change perceptions.
The video to the poem BNS remix is now available on YouTube.