Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hip-Hop America

Leave to the rapper to see it clearly!

In-article teaser
: " 'Hip-hop is sick because America is sick,' one rapper said."

"Hearing Focuses on Language and Violence in Rap Music" by JEFF LEEDS

[Yeah, never mind that MASS-MURDERING, OVER-CONSUMING CULTURE and GOVERNMENT you are living under.

Blame the black artists!]

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 — What a difference a week makes.

Last week, the purveyors of rap music cheered as new CDs from Kanye West and 50 Cent burst onto the top of the Billboard chart. But on Tuesday, rap artists and entertainment executives found themselves fending off Congressional criticism that they exploit violence and sexism for profit.

In a hearing convened by Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois, lawmakers asked music industry executives about their companies’ role in the production of explicit rap, at one point inviting them to read aloud from 50 Cent’s lyrics. The lawmakers also asked whether marketers were doing enough to shield young listeners from graphic content.

“This hearing is not anti-hip-hop,” said Mr. Rush, a former Black Panther who several years ago fought a challenge from a then little-known Barack Obama to hold on to his House seat. Still, he said, violence and degradation have “reduced too many of our youngsters to automatons, those who don’t recognize life, those who don’t value life.”

Mr. Rush, echoing comments of others on the panel, praised freedom of expression but asked the chief executives of two music companies whether they would consider a ban on certain words considered derogatory.

“We don’t think that banning expression is an appropriate approach,” said Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman of the Warner Music Group. Tasteless language, he added, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

Under questioning, Mr. Bronfman and Doug Morris, chairman of the Universal Music Group, stood by the industry’s existing method of handling explicit content, including the voluntary labeling of graphic CDs with parental-advisory stickers. Though they defended the industry’s practices, Mr. Bronfman and Mr. Morris lamented that efforts to restrict young listeners’ access to explicit music had become futile amid the proliferation of copyrighted songs and videos online.

The hearing, before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, reflected the continuing debate that has swept the rap world since CBS fired Don Imus, the radio host, for making derogatory comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Mr. Imus’s ouster prompted discussions about performers’ use of misogynous or violent language in songs and music videos.

All of that culminated in the hearing on Tuesday. It touched just lightly on the Imus case, in which a white radio host insulted black women. Instead, the spotlight fell on a panel of white executives defending music principally recorded by black men, and in some instances considered offensive to women. The focus was not only on record labels. Also questioned were executives from Viacom, the parent of MTV and BET; Radio One; and the video-game maker Take-Two Interactive Software.

At least one performer at the hearing told lawmakers that rap music had been unfairly singled out as a scapegoat for deeper social problems. “Gang violence was here before rap music,” said David Banner, a rapper who records for Universal Music and whose real name is Levell Crump. “I can admit that there are some problems in hip-hop, but it is only a reflection of what is taking place in our society. Hip-hop is sick because America is sick.”

A different note was sounded by Master P, previously a dominant force in rap, who has recently struggled to find a hit. Master P, whose real name is Percy Miller, said rap artists needed to consider how fans might be affected by their music. While societal woes contribute to violence and other problems, he said, “we are inflaming this problem by not being responsible.” He said he had devoted himself to producing cleaner music with positive messages.

Mr. Miller also apologized to “all the women out there,” and added, “I was honestly wrong.”

[Nothing like stirring up racial and gender divisions, 'eh, readers?

Especially when we got a MASS-MURDERING, WAR-LIKE SOCIETY going!!!

Guess that's why Muslims are so hated, huh?]