Perhaps I am paying too much attention to this alleged rap censorship issue that has morphed out of the Imus debacle, but it has become unavoidable. For the last couple of days, I have seen or heard interviews with hip hop mogul, Russell Simmons and I am infuriated by the lies, inaccuracies and deflections that are being submitted for public consumption. As many of you are probably aware by now, Simmons has called for a banning (or the more appropriate description, editing) of three words (nigger, ho and bitch) from the minstrel hop lexicon.
First, certain words are already cleverly edited on our public airwaves in such a way that the listener can still easily decipher the song's intent. Secondly, there are a whole host of underground terms (i.e. dro, hydro, yayo, brain, murk) that would continue to uphold the negative tenets of hip hop's minstrel/gangsta imagery. I'm "liberal" enough to allow the music that we are complaining about to exist. This is really an inverted free speech problem. What am I really saying? Those that are producing this misogynistic and ignorant doggeral have had their fair share of free speech-what Simmons slyly refuses to talk about is expanding the playing field in hiphop to allow alternative music to be heard that would add balance to what we now hear on a 24 hour basis.
Provocative and different sounding hip hop is what is being censored and yet this angle of the issue is consistently left out of the equation. But let me end this diatribe here as this will be picked up on our Thursday radio show. We will also attempt to talk about the frailties of the Black Church as well, if time permits. Also check out the article below from MemphisRap.com concerning Simmons, the NAACP and the censorship debate:
Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton, NAACP Urge Rap/Hip-Hop Censorship
Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 @ 7:10 PM CDT by admin
What is it with everybody and rap/hip-hop these days? Russell Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) issued a statement (April 23) urging the recording industry and media outlets to censor misogynistic lyrics and racist terms from future recordings. The Rev. Al Sharpton announced steps in his battle against rap music and will take his fight into various corporations' boardrooms, by buying stock in companies that promote the music. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently announced that it has launched an initiative called 'The Stop Campaign' which will aim to end racist and sexist language, images and concepts in the media. Already, a few local hip-hop radio stations including New York's Power 105.1 and Mississippi's Hot 97.7 have taken action by refusing to play songs with degrading or sexist lyrics.
These are not the only political figures addressing the nation though regarding Hip-Hop. Presidential candidate 08' Barack Obama also spoke about Hip-Hop but in another light. "We are all complicit...let's not just single out the rappers," Obama said, noting that he had heard offensive words in many places other than rap songs.
Meanwhile, in light of Sharpton's actions, Universal Music Group withdrew it's $15,000 contribution to Sharpton's National Action Network, after Sharpton decided it was inappropriate to honor Universal Music Group executive and Island Def Jam CEO, Antonio "L.A." Reid.
It has gone so far that, reportedly, even an advertisement shown on many websites including MySpace which features a rapper who resembles 50 Cent and a photographer whose camera you have to move to "shoot the rapper" has people alarmed.
Meanwhile, over in Memphis, TN, Three 6 Mafia is now under the radar. A Commercial Appeal Columnist has criticized the Memphis in May board for refusing to remove Three Six Mafia from its line up and is calling for a boycott of the Oscar winning rap group.
While many feel that the recent Hip-Hop attacks are publicity based, and Hip-Hop publishers have been quite, others are jumping on board the 'bash train' of Hip-Hop, and now Director and Founder of MemphisRap.com, Hosea Mays, Jr "M Town Luv aka M Town," has responded with a written column in regards to the recent attacks by critics and others against Hip-Hop entitled "Rap/Hip-Hop: You Can't Censor the Truth."
In the column, Mays "M Town" speaks not only about and for the rap/hip-hop community, but also speaks to the parents of the hip-hop generation about their role in it as well and also addresses the latest attempt to boycott Oscar winning group Three 6 Mafia.