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“Niggas In Paris” is the name of a rap single performed by Kanye West and Jay-Z from their 2011 collaboration album Watch The Throne. Upon its release, the song’s lyrics inspired a series of image macros and numerous catchphrases including “Ball so hard,” “Motherfucker wanna find me” and “That shit cray” among others.
The song was released on September 13th, 2011 as part of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s collaborative album Watch The Throne and it has since peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top spot on the US Hot R&B / Hip-Hop Songs and US Rap Songs charts. As of February 2012, it has sold two million digital units in the United States.
Following the album’s release in September, several lines from the song were adapted into image macros, most notable examples being “ball so hard” and “that shit cray,” throughout the last quarter of 2011.
The first line from the song to gain recognition as a catchphrase is “ball so hard,” which roughly translates to being “highly skilled” in something or “rolling in high class.” The earliest known Urban Dictionary definition of the phrase was submitted on October 29th, 2011. The phrase was introduced to a broader audience of football fans on November 6th, 2011, when it was referenced by the NFL linebacker for the Ravens Terrell Suggs on live television:
“A lot of guys on this team attended Ball So Hard University, including myself. The dean of students and president of the school is actually Shawn Carter.”
Another line from the same song, “that shit cray,” also gained some notoriety as an alternative way of saying “that shit [is] crazy.” While the term “cray” has been used prior to the release of the song and chosen as the Urban Word of the Day on March 12th, 2010, the phrase gained much of its online popularity following the song’s release. The highest voted Urban Dictionary entry for the term “cray” was submitted on December 18th, 2011, featuring a quote from the 2007 comedy film “Blades of Glory” starring Will Farrell, as sampled in the song itself.
“No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative. It gets people going.”
On February 19th, 2012, the phrase “dat shit cray” was featured as the Urban Word of the Day. As of September 2012, there are more than 16 entry results relating to the term “cray” on Urban Dictionary. On March 4th, 2012, online webcomic Cyanide and Happiness featured a comic of two dark-skinned French people standing in Paris, being rather disappointed after finding out being in Paris “isn’t all that cray”. The comic received over 12,000 Facebook likes as of September 24th of the same year.
Gwyneth Paltrow Twitter Controversy
On June 1st, 2012, American actress and singer Gwyneth Paltrow posted a tweet reading “Ni**as in paris for real”, along with a photo of herself standing on stage during Jay-Z and Kanye West’s live performance of the song (shown below) in Paris, France. Paltrow’s tweet was met by backlashes regarding her choice of word “niggas,” with many critics asserting that her usage of the term was inappropriate and offensive.
Paltrow later issued a response tweet explaining that her word choice was in reference to the name of the song, rather than the rappers on stage. The controversy surrounding Platrow’s tweet was covered by several news outlets and gossip sites such as ABC News, TMZ Slate, Keep it Trill, The Hollywood Gossip and Gossip Cop. Days later, American singer-songwriter The-Dream came forward and took responsibility for the offending tweet, claiming to have sent it himself from Paltrow’s phone while intoxicated.
Keep it Trill – Gwyneth Paltrow Criticized For ‘Niggas In Paris’ Tweet
The Hollywood Gossip – Gwyneth Paltrow Tweets N Word at Jay-Z Concert, Defends Usage Against Irate Fans