Following the release and viral attention garnered by a video in which a small child is seen cursing and engaging in vulgar behavior, some commentators dubbed the toddler as a thug. Appearing on CNN’s Newsroom with Don Lemon, Slim Thug described an alternate perspective of the word ‘thug’ and why it shouldn’t only be viewed negatively.
The segment began with Slim Thug’s comments that thugging can describe an entrepreneurial struggle. “It’s deeper than just being an entrepreneur because when I say from nothing, I mean like from nothing for real—Momma not there, Daddy not there, and you looked at as a thug because of how you look,” the rapper said. “You might have saggy jeans on and you come from the hood so you not dressed as sharp as the other kids and you always looked at as a thug, from family to strangers, everybody looking at you like you’re about to steal something from them because of how you dress and how you look. And for you to come from that to being successful, we call that—coming from nothin’—we call that thugging.”
Given that CNN and most other news outlets take the term to describe a detrimental lifestyle, Slim distinguished his view from the status quo. “I understand that,” he said. “I think ya’ll definition of thug and mine different. So I understand that people could get it wrong sometime.
"At the same time, I do do all that and I do hang around those type of guys, that’s what environment I was raised in,” he added regarding carrying a weapon and spending time with alleged criminals. “I was discriminated against so much because of how I look and how I dress so I wanna show the other kids who came up where I came up [that] just ‘cause I had braids and a grill with tattoos everywhere, it don’t necessarily mean I’m fittin’ to try and snatch your purse.”
Slim Thug, who appeared on the show seemingly in part due to his stage name, continued with a description of the type of positive involvement he has in his own local community. “I give out meals all the time," he said. "I go to the hood every Thanksgiving [and] pass out turkeys, give away toys away at school, I do a lot for the community.”
Speaking specifically to the video in which a child is seen using explicit language, Slim Thug clarified that he doesn’t condone the behavior. “I don’t think that was cool what happened with that baby,” he said. “I don’t think that’s cool them people got their kid cussing like that. I also don’t think it’s right for somebody to label him as a thug because of his environment. That’s just what he’s raised in and he’s gotta come out of that. A lot of people are born into money, and they just gotta follow the blueprint.”
A stream of the original video can be viewed below.
“It’s the environment, it ain’t the music,” Slim Thug said, apparently talking about the specific case in question but also speaking more generally as well. “If anybody listens to music and is influenced by what a rapper says then they wasn’t raised in a good home anyway. If somebody gonna listen to a song and do what the song say, that’s bad parenting, off top. You’re supposed to know better than that.”
CNN has featured interviews with rappers frequently in the past. In 2013, Jay Z described his own viewing habits with a slight for the news agency. "CNN is almost like TMZ," he said. "Certain things, it's like, 'Ah, man. This is like really just entertainment.' It's really like all for ratings at the end of the day. And you squeeze a bit of information in there."