Ngajuana – Don’t Dismiss the Name

Ngajuana has a controversial name. When I first heard this cat on the Internet, I wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce his name. When I learned how to, I was a bit uncomfortable calling him by his rap moniker simply because it starts off with the n-word and ends with the last two syllables of marijuana.

I normally censor swear words when they appear in type here on this blog but that would completely defeat the purpose of transcribing this discussion. That is why every time the n-word was used in this interview, I have typed it out in full. If this offends you, please read no further. 
I was really surprised where this discussion went and I would like to hear your thoughts on it as well in the comments section below. Don’t forget that you can download this interview for free or stream it with the player at the bottom of the post so you can hear some of his music as well. I respect this artist and what he is trying to do.
You might have heard him on 106.9 fm if you live in or have passed through the London area. They have to refer to him as NGA because they cannot say his name on commercial radio airwaves. I can say it on campus radio and the Internet so I’ve decided to respect him by using his name, even if it does sound a little unnatural coming from me.
Chase: “Alright everybody, this is Chase March and I’m sitting here with Ngajuana. How it going man?”
Ngajuana: “Can’t complain, and you?”
Chase: “Pretty good! So we’re here at the JRMAs and your nominated for an award tonight. How long have you been doing hip-hop?”
Ngajuana: “I’ve been writing raps for 6 years and I freestyled for 13 years before that. So, 19 years.”
Chase: “Nice. You have quite the controversial name.”
Ngajuana: “Yeah, it’s actually an acronym. No good a**hole just using aliases names aimlessly. I thought of it randomly. The story is even cloudy to me now. But it’s perfect for me because I’ve never really been afraid to keep my mouth shut. And I think the whole drama around the word nigger is over played now. I agree the way it was used in a historical context was obviously inappropriate, but these days, I think nigger better represents ignorance.
I don’t think that a word has to be racial, you know what I mean? Because it was used in that context doesn’t mean it was used properly. Slave masters and such were probably intelligent people but they weren’t the least ignorant people out there at the time.”
Chase: “I know certain rappers call themselves that all the time but a lot of the hip-hop audience is white, do you feel comfortable with white people using that word.”
Ngajuana: “It doesn’t bother me at all.”
Chase: “I was in a crew with four white guys and one black guy and we called him that and he didn’t care. The next crew I got with though, I said it and the guy took offense to it, like big time.”
Ngajuana: “It’s definitely a personal thing. Not everyone is going to agree with the way I think about it. It causes so many problems that one word. And coming from a predominately white city, and having mostly white friends, a lot of white people use the word anyway. If you’re gonna hide behind a word like that, you’re almost being ignorant yourself. I mean, it’s out there and it’s being used. I’ve heard it since I was a six-year old kid. The only way to remove the power from the word is to change the meaning, change the context, and don’t give it such a reaction.
It’s such an easy thing for someone who is looking for a reaction to pick on. People were trying to get me to get in trouble when I was a kid. First thing out of their mouth was, ‘Nigger, niglet,’ or some kind of variation of the word, and I always went for it, right? I felt that, racially, that was what I was supposed to do. It was my obligation. I hear the word nigger, I’m supposed to hit you. I’m supposed to react in some negative manner. As I got older, I thought about it, and thought, ‘It’s kind of stupid.’ It’s like sticks and stones, type of thing.
Chase: “Yeah, definitely. I think the whole reasons that rappers using that term is because they wanted to take it back.”
Ngajuana: “Exactly.”
Chase; “In other words, I can call you that out of a term of endearment almost and I guess I do sort of the same thing when I call some of my friends peckerhead.”

Ngajuana: “I call some of my friends fags, ya know what I mean, but I don’t think they’re gay, I think it’s just a situational thing, who you are, and the way you came up, what it means to you, and the context it’s been used in your life. Like, I can see a guy who got called nigger every day having a problem with my name because there’d be some emotional issue there. But it wasn’t like that for me. And as far as my music, I’m trying to represent me, and my views, and I’m not trying to be anyone else.
I feel that, as far as myself, there’s other people who get mad at the word on my behalf. Like, ‘You can’t call my friend a nigger!’ and I’m like, ‘Dude, there’s a lot of worse things he could call me.’”
Chase: “Well, I’ve kind of erased that word from my vocabulary. So I don’t use it and I’ll do like the Westside Connection and say, “Nia” so it doesn’t sound like the word anymore if I’m rapping along to a song I like and it has that word in it. That’s just my personal taste, you know? I have no problem with language in hip-hop and I don’t have any censorship issues there. we’re an overnight show so we don’t censor our stuff anyway.
So I’ve been listening to your stuff, connecting with you on MySpace and Twitter there and I like your music.
Ngajuana: “Thank you very much.”
Chase: “So what’s your writing process like?”
Ngajuana: “I hear the beat and the beat is usually telling a story, that’s the way I hear it, and I just write the story that I hear. I start with the hook usually, I write a multiple of two usually and then I try to build the verses around the hooks so that it stays fluent and on the topic and I make sure I get across what I’m trying to say.”
Chase: “That’s a good way to do it. I know a lot of rappers have a hard time with the hook, especially guys that are just coming out, they just want to rap, say whatever they have to say, and they don’t put much thought or effort into the hook of the song.”
Ngajuana: “It seems to be harder for other people that it is for me. I know, The Game, as an example of a prominent artist, had trouble writing his hooks and had to call in 50 Cent. But hook writing has always been natural for me. I sell hooks. $50, I’ll write a hook and put it on your song or just sell it to you so you can put it on your song. To me, they’re the most easiest, brief part of a song.”
Chase: “Yeah but it’s also the hardest because that’s what you need your listener to hear and grasp onto.”

Ngajuana: “I’ve never had a problem.”
Chase: “That’s awesome.”
Ngajuana: “I find bridges challenging, trying to make a second hook within a song. Those are a fun thing that a lot of hip-hop artists ignore I find. I like to play around with bridges a lot.”
Chase: “That’s cool because then you’re not just playing with that rap-chorus-rap-chorus-fade-out, right?”
Ngajuana: “Exactly, I try to challenge my producers too. I try to make them sequence around my lyrics. I’ll hear the loop and I’ll write the song and I’ll be, ‘Oh and by the way I added in a bridge that wasn’t in the beat.’ They’ll be like, ‘Okay so what do you want me to do?’ and I’ll say, ‘Make it sound a little bit different.’”
Chase: “Nice. So how do you get your beats?”
Ngajuana: “Right now I’m working with Mad Hatter and Rugged One primarily. Mad Hatter is an independent, talented, talented guy, working exclusively with me. Rugged One is working with New Industry Canada. He works out of downtown London. I did my first album ‘Shave the Sheep’ with him. He’s a dope producer in his own right, trying to push the boundaries of what hip-hop is and I especially like working with him because he wants to further his talent.”

Well that ends Part 1 of this interview transcript. The rest of the interview is a little more tame so you can come back tomorrow and read it if you choose. But please check this guy out and download the podcast or stream it with the player below to hear some of his music and the entire discussion that we had. Thanks!