Ah’m a Nigger Man by Scatman Crothers, Politically Incorrect?

If you’re like most people, you’ve never heard of this 1975 song called Ah’m a Niggerman sung by Scatman Crothers.

I can’t even put a link to tell you more about it because I couldn’t find a write up specifically on it!

That’s rare in the world these days!

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I found this song while looking for Scatman’s version of a Disney song called Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat, from the animation called The Aristocats from 1970.

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I found Ah’m a Nigger Man because YouTube displayed Scatman Crothers videos besides Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat. The title Ah’m a Nigger Man was too irresistible to avoid clicking to see what it was about. But yes, this guy did Disney stuff just years before he did this song that’s probably controversial in most people’s books. It has all the controversial elements, not the least of which is using the word “nigger” over and over again. Stuff like that in songs today would get some warning on it, if not for controversy then for political incorrectness, that’s for sure!

Scatman Crothers

But is it really politically incorrect? That’s my question.

To give you some context, consider these things.

It came from a 1975 stop animation film with an even more controversial title, called Coonskin. It was directed by Ralph Bakshi, who I have to mention is Caucasian and Israeli since race is obviously an issue of controversy with the song. Ralph had also directed a version of the Lord of the Rings in 1978, way before the recent film trilogy came along.

Scatman Crothers wrote the music, and Ralph wrote the lyrics (though not the scatting, that’s for sure), according to Wikipedia. Hey, best source I could find online… and nobody has put up lyrics for this song!

Seriously! I hardly ever come across any songs I can’t find lyrics for these days! I can’t remember one, in fact!

He seemed to have accepted it as having some value more than money, like maybe a social commentary. This was not some big production or record that was going to sell a lot of copies. I doubt he would have thought this song would have gotten a lot of mainstream air play given its lyrics contained the word “nigger” more times than most racy song these days with that word in it.

I don’t think the song is controversial or politically incorrect. I see the value in the social commentary. I see it as partly reflecting the times and a small part of the history of African-American culture, as it were, without all the spin and sugar coating. For some people, any use of the word “nigger” is just bad, definitely politically incorrect, and that it should be removed from the English language. However, I think that in the “right context”, the word “nigger” has its place. We could not accurately write African-American history without it, for example. It’s all about how you use the word, and unlike a lot of the songs today with the word “nigger” in it, I think it belongs just fine in every single instance you find it in Ah’m a Nigger Man.

Put it another way, if I thought this song were politically incorrect, I wouldn’t dare put it on my blog that some people will inevitably use to form some or all of their opinion of me as a person. If I thought the song controversial, it would never fit in the “slightly controversial” category. It’d be way too much for me to dare to put here!

I also think Ah’m a Nigger Man is a better example of African-American music than most of the songs I had heard which were written and performed solely by African-Americans in the past 20 years. Sure, Scatman didn’t write the lyrics, but the music and scat singing was his. I think if he felt the lyrics were “off”, he’d probably have objected. Put yourself in his shoes and think about whether you’d have done anything if the lyrics had not “felt right” to some extent. I also wonder if he might have had a hand in refining the lyrics if they had not “felt right” to start with. Ralph Bakshi might have “gotten it right” from the start. In my opinion, and I’m not going to try to qualify that opinion, that music and scat singing contribution by Scatman Crothers alone were sufficient to make Ah’m a Nigger Man a more worthy example of African-American music than most of the songs I had heard which were written and performed solely by African-Americans in the past 20 years. Add on a well-matched set of lyrics to the music and you’ve got an even better example!

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0

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6 thoughts on “Ah’m a Nigger Man by Scatman Crothers, Politically Incorrect?

  1. nice writing. i was looking for the lyrics when I read this. i am so glad you wrote this because i feel the same way… but a little different because i am black. i own the movie and love this song. it’s one of those songs that even if you do not like the lyrics, you can not deny he “did” that (scat) and did a great job doing it! I also loved him in HONG KONG FUEY.

  2. The song is “politically incorrect” today because the younger generations are inundated with too much information these days. Information is only valuable according to how well you can process it, and adolescents simply fail at this due to not having a fully developed brain.

    Beyond PC, the song is basically a summary of social commentary on the historical conditions of black America. It wasn’t too long ago that other un-PC media, e.g. the Amos and Andy Show, were also removed from the media.

    Now, as music, this song is catchy and like others have also commented on this site, the scatting is excellent.

  3. What really gets to me is how he is singing it with disgust. You can hear in his music that he suffered from discrimination, segregation, et al, but also hear a defiance, as though he is saying, “You might misjudge me and mistreat me, but if you push me too far, I will kick your ass from hear to kingdom come. You won’t defeat me.”

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