Ja Rule calls out men for calling women ‘bitch’
First time in rap history I’ve ever seen a lyricist defend black women on air
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on August 8, 2022.
If I call someone a “bitch,” I mean it in the most absolutely disrespectful way. I am not playing. At all. I wince when Lizzo calls both men and women “bitches.” Trina self-identifies as the “baddest bitch.” Meredith Brooks adds the word to a whole host of other things she is. Rihanna calls herself a “Bad Bitch.” Queen Latifah tells me on “Unity” “don’t be gettin’ mad, when we playin’, it’s cool.” And Beyonce says, “You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation.” And I get it. Words translate differently for different people, and I’m not about to ask anybody to remove a word from a song solely because I’m not into it.
I’m aware of the slang version and the complimentary version. To each her own. Language evolves, softens and hardens through the years. However, “bitch” was just never one of those words I have ever nor will ever embrace. (I did use to proudly embrace “nigga” up until I went to a predominantly white college with three overly confident white women — with “black friends” who don’t care if they use the word. I did a 180-degree turn and haven’t used it in two decades, partially due to my disgust for them and primarily due to my abhorrence for slavery.)
But there’s something that really ups the anger ante for me when a black man refers to a black woman as a “bitch.” It feels personal and vindictive. So while I cracked jokes about Murder Inc. producer Irv Gotti during the “Drink Champs” interview and all the talk of his relationship with labelmate Ashanti, I thought the Nelly story would be the standout moment. To my surprise, it was not. After he’d referred to Ashanti and other women as “bitch” one too many times, his rap partner and friend Ja Rule stepped in and told him to relax with the “bitches” in reference to women.
I scratched my head, thinking of whether I’d ever seen this before. And then it came back to me that Ja Rule did this again when Fat Joe called two darkskinned singers “dusty bitches” during “Verzuz.” While Fat Joe is another problematic non-black person who loves to use the n-word, when Ja Rule wagged a verbal finger at him for it, he changed his tune a bit and apologized to the two singers after the performance. But during Irv Gotti’s rant, I just did not expect Ja to even care.