A Wu-Tang Clan fan in the UK has been handed a £500 fine for using the n-word while rapping the lyrics to the group’s debut single “Protect Ya Neck.”
According to The National, Kyle Siegel, a 25-year-old white man from Norgaet, Lerwick, was recording himself rapping the 1993 song for TikTok while standing in a women’s bathroom stall.
What Siegel didn’t realize was there was a mixed race woman in the cubicle next to him who was left “severely shocked” by the incident, which took place at the Scalloway Boating Club around 1 a.m. on February 20, 2022.
Siegel admitted saying the word during a hearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court, but said he had no idea the complainant was in the stall next to him as he spit the lyrics to “Protect Ya Neck.” He also admitted conducting himself in a disorderly manner, entering the women’s bathroom in which there were a number of people present and uttering the word.
Procurator Fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told the court the singing was loud enough for the complainant to hear, which resulted in an argument developing between Siegel and the woman before the incident was reported to the police.
Siegel’s lawyer, Tommy Allan, said his client was “singing along to a TikTok on a friend’s phone.”
Allan then gave Sheriff Ian Cruickshank a brief breakdown of who the Wu-Tang Clan are, explaining how they’re a hugely pioneering group formed in Staten Island, New York City, and that all of its members come from an “ethnic background.”
While the defense said there were a few issues surrounding “artistic freedom,” he noted Siegel was not a “person of color.” He added that Siegel accepted “he crossed the line” but didn’t intend to harm anyone with his actions.
Siegel was fined £500 for the offense and also ordered to pay an additional victim surcharge of £20.
Use of the n-word by non-Black people when it’s used in a song has long been a subject of debate. Earlier this summer, Roddy Ricch faced criticizm when he encouraged the crowd at London’s Wireless Festival to sing the lyrics to his diamond hit “The Box.”
In a video shared online, a largely white crowd can be seen singing every word to the 2019 track while Roddy tells them to “sing that shit.” The festival-goers keep the karaoke going into the chorus and even sing the lyric “suck a n-gga soul” which didn’t seem censored on the audio track.
People on social media were quick to comment on the moment, with many feeling uneasy about a large group of white people freely saying the n-word while others weren’t surprised at all.
“Many a n-gga was sung, nary a n-gga was seen,” someone tweeted while another said: “Ya’ll really thought all them white ppl in that Roddy Ricch performance weren’t gonna say ‘n-gga’? At this point i don’t even cringe when i hear stuff like that, it’s just expected…smmfbbh.”
Meanwhile, Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which features the aforementioned “Protect Ya Neck,” was inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress earlier this year.
Each year, the Registry adds 25 sound recordings it deems to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” to its growing list of audio treasures.
Also included in the 2022 class were A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, Alicia Keys’ Songs In A Minor, Duke Ellington’s Ellington at Newport and the Queen single “Bohemian Rhapsody.”