Rock N Roll Nigger

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"Rock N Roll Nigger"
Song by Patti Smith
from the album Easter
Released March 3, 1978 (1978-03-03)
Recorded Record Plant Studios
Genre Punk rock
Length 3:13
Label Arista
Songwriter(s) Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye
Producer(s) Jimmy Iovine
Audio sample

"Rock N Roll Nigger" is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, and released on the Patti Smith Group's 1978 album Easter. The song has since been covered by several artists, and a remix was included on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Natural Born Killers.[1][2][3][4][5]

In the song, Smith self-identifies as a "nigger," meaning a rebellious and honorable outsider.[6] Duncombe and Tremblay suggest in White Riot that Smith is continuing Norman Mailer's tradition of the White Negro, adopting black culture to express things she believes her own culture will not allow, and rejecting the oppression white culture has historically imposed on others.[7]


Because of its title and repetition of a racial epithet, which in 1978 was already considered extremely offensive, "Rock N Roll Nigger" received no mainstream radio airplay.[7]

In 2008, the song was listed in The Pitchfork 500, a music guide published by Pitchfork Media that lists the top 500 songs between 1977 and 2006.[8]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Rock N Roll Nigger". Allmusic. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ Murphy, Peter (August 20, 1997). "Nigger with attitude". Dublin, Ireland: Hot Press. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "Patti Smith Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ Villepique, Greg (November 9, 1999). "Patti Smith: A punk icon in jeans and leather jacket, she added ecstasy and spiritual exaltation to the poet-songwriter equation.". Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ Sinagra, Laura (December 2, 2005). "ROCK REVIEW; Celebrating 'Horses' and Everything After". New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  6. ^ Mahon, Maureen (2004). Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race. Duke University Press. pp. 204–205. ISBN 9780822333173. 
  7. ^ a b Duncombe, Stephen & Tremblay, Maxwell (2011). White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race. Verso Books. pp. 18–23. ISBN 9781844676880. 
  8. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott; Schreiber, Ryan, eds. (November 2008). The Pitchfork 500. Simon & Schuster. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-1-4165-6202-3.