Tuesday night (June 12) Russell Simmons took to the airwaves to clarify his support for Gwyneth Paltrow in the infamous N-word scandal. On an appearance on MSNBC’s the Ed Show, guest-hosted by Michael Eric Dyson, Simmons attempted to move the conversation beyond Paltrow’s remark.
“If you read the blog, [I said] unless you have a direct bloodline to a slave, you probably shouldn’t use it,” Simmons began, referring to the blog post he wrote on June 5. “This particular incident with Gwyneth is behind us…the intention is the most important thing.”
When asked about Nas giving Paltrow a “pass” and if such a pass can be issued by any rapper, Simmons responded:
“Her getting a pass by Nas or her getting a pass by people who know her and love her and us letting it go is one thing,” Simmons said. “It’s not something she should continue to do. Nor do we recommend that it’s okay because she got a pass, that everyone can use it.”
Paltrow’s “N-Word-Gate” began last week (June 1) when Jay-Z and Kanye West lit up Paris with a performance that included mega-encores for their hit song, “N****s In Paris.” A-listers from the world of music and film were in attendance. But it was actress and singer Gwyneth Paltrow who caused the biggest stir. While sitting with Beyonce and Kelly Rowland at the Watch The Throne concert in Paris, the Avengers star sent out a tweet that some fans thought crossed a line.
— Gwyneth Paltrow (@GwynethPaltrow) June 1, 2012
She sent out the message with a picture of Jay-Z and Kanye West on stage. The comment, with the picture as context, blew up on the internet. It sparked a debate with some people blaming Jay-Z and Kanye West for using the lyrics and others accusing Paltrow of crossing a line.
Hip-hop notables quickly responded, many coming to Paltrow’s defense. The-Dream claimed that he was the one who wrote the original tweet, and later backed off the claim. Meanwhild Q-Tip, who once released the controversial song “Sucka N****s” in 1993, said Paltrow should have apologized.
But it was Nas‘ comments in support of Paltrow caused the biggest dustup.
“I would slap the s*** out of somebody for Gwyneth Paltrow,” Nas told CBS Local exclusively. “She’s the homie she’s cool. Gwyneth gets a pass. Real people get a pass we know what this s*** is. We don’t interrupt Italians when they say ‘Wop’ to each other. They gonna punch you in the mouth if you interrupt that. Don’t interrupt us. We pick and choose.”
Nas acknowledged that other black people might feel differently, but still stood by his statement. “Some might not feel the same way,” he said. “Some of us will get angrier about it than others but some people get a pass. The people that I know who are cool and real n****s, Gwyneth Paltrow is a real n****, that’s my homie. That’s how I’m on it. Some people get a pass.”
Nas’s remarks figured prominently in Dyson and Simmons’ conversation. While Dyson attempted to press Simmons on his Paltrow support, Simmons pivoted to the future of the N-Word and how it might be handled within the African-American community.
“I think Nas has an awareness of that word and history,” Dyson said. “That reality is in our community. Just because a couple of affluent blacks and some middle class blacks object to it, they can’t stop it. The word is here. It’s being used a certain way. How do we deal with it is the question.”
In closing, Dyson and Russell found a common ground, a message for white people looking for N-word rules of usage.
“Heres an iron clad rule that will help you at all points,” Dyson said. “Here’s when you cen use the N-word: Never.
“I agree with you there,” Russell Said.
—Erik Parker, CBS Local