If anyone of had been hoping that something positive was going to come from the rap community, in light of the criticism they’ve received since the controversy over Don Imus’ “nappy headed hos remark” thrust the violence and misogyny inherent in rap music in the spotlight, they better think again.
Earlier today, music executives and rappers ‘came together’ as part of a rap music summit to talk about the recent criticisms the rap community has received. Was there any acknowledgement that rap music was much more of a national problem than anything Don Imus ever said about black people? Was there agreement that pressure needs to be put on rappers to rap about being positive and peaceful rather than negative and violent, so as to influence young listeners of this particular genre? Of course not. The Associated Press reports on what happened at the ‘summit’ (emphasis added):
The meeting, called by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, was held at the New York home of Lyor Cohen, chairman and chief executive of U.S. music at Warner Music Group. The summit, which lasted several hours, did not result in any specific initiative.
Organizers billed the gathering as a forum to “discuss issues challenging the industry in the wake of controversy surrounding hip- hop and the First Amendment.” Afterward, they planned to hold a news conference at a Manhattan hotel to discuss “initiatives agreed upon at the meeting.” But by early afternoon, the news conference was postponed, because the meeting was still going on.
After the meeting ended, it was unclear whether there would be another one. Simmons’ publicist released a short statement that described the topic as a “complex issue that involves gender, race, culture and artistic expression. Everyone assembled today takes this issue very seriously.”
Although no recommendations emerged, the gathering was significant for its who’s-who list of powerful music executives.
According to a roster released by Simmons on Wednesday, attendees included: Kevin Liles, executive vice president, Warner Music; L.A. Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group; Sylvia Rhone, president of Motown Records and executive vice president of Universal Music Group; Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America; and Damon Dash, Jay-Z’s former Roc-A-Fella Records partner. Top-selling rapper T.I. also attended, organizers said.
Simmons declined to comment through a spokeswoman. But he appeared this week with others at a two-day town hall meeting on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to discuss the issue. While Simmons, Liles and the rapper Common agreed “there is a problem,” Simmons cautioned against trying to limit rappers’ free-speech rights.
He said that “poets” always come under fire for their unsanitized descriptions of the world.
Got that? Rap music is like “poetry” and the implication within Simmons’ statement is that ‘people don’t like hearing what’s going on in the black community’ which is complete BS. Most thinking people do want to hear what’s going on in the black community, but unfortunately all too often one side (typically, the politically incorrect side) of the argument is shut out of it because black ‘leaders’ like the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton simply aren’t interested in the truth. They’d rather keep the black man angry and down, because it makes the Revs. richer and satisfies their perverse desire for attention. I do agree with one thing Simmons said, though. This shouldn’t be a free speech issue. As I said in a recent post on this topic, the free market should decide.
More from Simmons:
“We’re talking about a lot of these artists who come from the most extreme cases of poverty and ignorance … And when they write a song, and they write it from their heart, and they’re not educated, and they don’t believe there’s opportunity, they have a right, they have a right to say what’s on their mind,” he said.
“Whether it’s our sexism, our racism, our homophobia or our violence, the hip-hop community sometimes can be a good mirror of our dirt and sometimes the dirt that we try to cover up,” Simmons said. “Pointing at the conditions that create these words from the rappers … should be our No. 1 concern.”
Again, the old “we have a right to say this” argument crops up, when that’s not the issue to begin with. As I’ve said many times before, it’s not about whether or not you have the right to say something, but whether or not it’s right to say it. And yeah, these rappers “don’t believe there’s opportunity” which explains why they’re riding high off the money they make from their ‘music’ – because they don’t believe there’s any opportunity. And about those “conditions” rappers rap about, does Simmons really believe that rappers are performing a civic duty by glorifyiing the killing of cops and ‘f—ing’ a ‘nappy b-tch ho’? And what about the ‘conditions’ expressed in female rap music, as noted here by Christopher Hayes? Take a look at those lyrics and tell me again what ‘conditions’ they’re trying to draw attention to? What part of those lyrics are ‘heart-felt’ exactly?
More from the article:
[Rapper] Common said criticism of rappers and their music should come with love. “When I talk to the cats, regardless of rap, when I talk to cats on the street, they don’t wanna be in that situation,” the rapper said. “We don’t wanna be in this painful situation. We want it to heal. And we are apologizing for … the disrespect that does come from the mouths of men to women whatever color.”
Sorry, “cat,” but a lame apology doesn’t cut it. You and your fellow rappers need to clean up your damn “music” and stop poisioning the minds of easily influenced children and young men and women with the hate so often preached in rap songs.
This was nothing more than a dog and pony show, aimed at showing critics that they are ‘concerned.’ In my opinion, Simmons and “Common” and, I suspect, most of the other ‘cats’ who met at this ‘summit’ have no intentions of advocating anything meaningful regarding cleaning up rap music lyrics. They just want people to think they’re serious about this until it all blows over.
Thur PM Update: What was that Simmons was saying about ‘conditions’ rappers want to draw attention to again? The “heart felt” lyrics – and “performances”? Did he mean lyrics and performances like these (more here)?