LOS ANGELES, CA – Bill Maher quickly apologized after using the N-word on his Real Time with Bill Maher program when he faced scrutiny from many, including Chance The Rapper. The Grammy-winning artist called for HBO to cancel the show. Many said there were no excuses for the slip-up, even if the comedian is known for pushing boundaries. As promised, Ice Cube joined the host on his HBO show Friday (June 9) to have an honest discussion about the situation.
“I knew you was gonna fuck up sooner or later,” the N.W.A rapper said before explaining the issue.
Maher says his show is meant to be a comedy and his jokes involving black culture are meant to combat racism, to which Cube replies, “Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker.”
He says he accepts Maher’s apology and likes Real Time, but wants the scope of the problem to be explored.
“I think it’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they’re a little too familiar,” Cube said.”Or they think they’re too familiar or there’s guys out there that might have had a black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid every now and then, and they think they can cross the line and they can’t.”
The West Coast legend creates the metaphor of a knife, saying the N-word can either be used as a tool to create or as a weapon to hurt.
“It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody because it’s not cool,” he explained. “Now, I know, I heard it’s in the lexicon everybody’s talkin’. But that’s our word now. That’s our word now and you can’t have it back. … It’s not cool because when I hear my homies say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person say it, it feel like that knife stabbing me, even if they don’t mean it.”
Cube has been known for addressing political issues since day one when N.W.A released 1988’s “Fuck Tha Police.” Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) is marking the 25th anniversary of his Death Certificate album with a special edition re-release. Looking back on his career and race relations through the decades, Cube says “the only thing changed really is the calendar.” But he does see hope.
“What has changed, though, to be honest, is the scrutiny of law enforcement,” he said. “Before N.W.A and before we did ‘Fuck Tha Police,’ what happened was the police could do no wrong. If they saw you in court and they pointed you out, you were guilty. After that song and after Rodney King, you saw the police being more scrutiny. They’re on trial now for their conduct. We’re getting to the bottom of some of this. It’s slow justice, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Before appearing with Maher, Cube spoke with Big Boy on Los Angeles radio station Real 92.3. He gave a preview of what he was going to address, explaining he was willing to bring up the controversy even if the host wasn’t willing to.
“We’re gonna talk about it,” he shared. “I did look at it like he was a comedian trying to be witty, be funny be clever and quick. Bill, he always steps up against the line. This time, he stepped over it.”
Expanding on the idea of using the slip-up as a teachable moment, Cube says he doesn’t mind if people say the N-word while rapping along to his songs because the lyrics aren’t the listeners’ own words. But that’s where the line is drawn.
“You gotta check yourself before you wreck yourself period because if not, it’s gonna be an issue,” he shared. “It’s a word that’s demonized for a reason. It’s like this: I look at that word like a knife. You can cut your food with it, you can cut somebody up with it. White people used to cut us up with it, so they can’t use it no more. With us, we use it like a tool. But them, they can’t use it — period.”
Check out Cube’s discussion with Maher above and his interview with Big Boy below.