Let me start off by saying I feel the derogatory and sexist comments Don Imus made on his national radio and television show April 4, 2007 about the women of the Rutger's Basketball Team had nothing to do with Hip Hop. Even if he said "rappers use the same language all the time" to try to excuse himself from calling them "Nappyhead Hoes". However, I am happy Hip Hop and the African American communities are talking about the language and images in the music of Hip Hop. As a total Hip Hopper I have been working to reform the images and vulgar language in Hip Hop music and culture ever since I was in College in the late 80's. I remember protesting "Tight Jeans" contests and the vulgar step of the Q Dogs performed at 19 years old. I even crushed Hip Hop tapes with a steam roller in 1991 with Reverend Calvin Butts at 23 years old. I took my NAACP Youth Group, I asked each of them to bring a tape they would like to crush. I brought Apache's "I want a Gangsta B*tch" tape. Now, at 39 years old I am set to release my movie GOLDDIGGER KILLER which addresses the misogyny in Hip Hop.
I feel Hip Hop music and all music played on public radio and videos shown on public television and daytime basic cable should be rated. This would allow for inappropriate music and videos to be kept away from children. Magazines which have pornographic pictures and movies which have nudity, vulgarity and extreme violence are not allowed to be sold to people under certain ages. This is not censorship this being responsible. Censorship is when it is against the law to say certain things. We rate TV shows but, not music videos. What we need is consistency.
What about the women in these music videos? Well, there are women who do pornographic movies and pose in sexually explicit pictures and it doesn't mean it isn't misogyny. These men and women who produce pornography try to fool people by saying it's not misogyny because the women are paid and consent. You can hate women and still pay them so just because women get paid in these videos it doesn't mean they aren't misogynistic. They say there videos and pictures are art and a celebration of the female body. I disagree. Don Imus said Hip Hop artist say derogatory things about Black women all the time so, why is it wrong for him to say them. I like to explain my opinion by using this example. If a person cuts themselves its legal. But, if another person cuts that same person it is a crime. When Hip Hop artists call their own Black sisters something derogatory they have a psychological problem. It is a form of a Self inflicting behavior which there are many of these mental problems. I'm not justifying this behavior I'm just trying to explain it. According to Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary who has a PhD in Social Work Research and is an assistant Professor of Social Work at Portland State University says in her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome that African Americans suffer from the traumas of chattel slavery. I accept this theory. It explain why these same artists use derogatory terms to describe themselves. A good example of this is in a song by the 80's rap group Whodini. They had a song I used to spin way back when I was a DJ called "I'm a hoe"!. The song has a line where they said "I'm a hoe you know I'm a hoe I rock 3 different women before every show". Therefore, blaming the artists and asking them make more positive songs is a waste of time. I remember what rapper Treach who is a member of the 90's rap group Naughty By Nature said about the subjects he writes about in a song called Ghetto Bastard "You want me to say something positive well positive is not where I live". Expecting a rapper or anybody to write songs they know nothing about is ridiculous. Instead of trying to defend these artist we should be getting them treatment because they are crazy! Even blaming the Record Companies or trying to hold them accountable is difficult. If we limit what the images and languages that are allowed on airways where children and the public can exposed to them will influence these artists and companies to produce vulgar free and derogatory entertainment. If they continue to produce this stuff then they would have to call themselves pornorappers and pornoRecord Companies. Their music products would have to be sold in the same sex shops as the XXX movies. Remember Penthouse, Playboy and Hustler didn’t restrict themselves it was the public which made them cover their magazine covers and limit the sells to adults.
There are other solutions I would like to offer. Of course a more enforced rating system for music and videos is the main suggestion. However, a rating system would only deal with vulgar language and images. For racially derogatory Imus language would require some form of censorship. Pursuing censorship legislation is a involved process and would require a lot of people mobility for Black people. The Jewish community offers another option for dealing with racial slurs made against their community. The Jewish community threaten to boycott and disgrace a company out of the business if they feel they are offended.
We also need "conscious rapper" to step up their game and produce better more Hip music. There is no excuse for wack music. "Cupids Chokehold" by the Gym Class Heroes is my favorite song which is out right now isn’t negative and it's at the top of the charts. I even think "Chicken Noodle Soup" by DJ Webster and the Voice of Harlem is another song topping the charts with out derogatory lyrics or misogynistic videos. Since, I can remember when the term "conscious rapper" was another way of saying someone was a corny rapper with out hurting their feelings. There is a way to say something positive in a song and still have people be able to dance to it. Kurt Franklin, Michael and Hip Hop's own KRS-ONE are able to do it.
Now, I agree with the statement Benjamin Franklin gets credit for which is " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Applying this idea to the Black communities issues with Hip Hop I suggest we improve our male/female relationship education programs. Russell Simmons blames poverty for the sexism in Hip Hop a belief which doesn't make sense to me. If poverty was the problem then having money would be the solution. Which isn't true because Jay Z got money for days and he still sings negative songs. Not only that but, how do we explain positive rappers who come from poverty like The Poor Righteous Teachers a rap group from the late 80's and 90's. KRS-ONE grew up in a group home and that's poorer than how Tupac grew up. I believe our basic ignorance to the male and female genders and how they relate to each other. We need to beef up and continue teaching our youth about how men and women relate in our churches, Colleges and community centers.
We need to have workshops specifically on sexism, domestic violence and misogyny for our adult men. There are a few organizations which do workshops designed to address these issues. We need to have more of them and maybe a few who target the Hip Hop community.
We need to make misogyny one of our major issues like we do education and the criminal justice system. This way we would discuss it at our National Conventions and Televised panel discussions. We need to put all of our heads together to develop more ways we can address this problem.
Hip Hop started as a positive social trend in the Bronx in 1977 and now it is world wide. Therefore, I know we can solve this problem. We just need to be focused and stop making excuses for the negative rappers. While I was happy to see Oprah's shows on Hip Hop Misogyny I was upset to see some of my fellow Hip Hopper's who are the biggest brains in the culture criticize Oprah for joining in on the conversation. When I marched with Rev Sharpton we didn't stop marching when a new person joined our protest. We were happy they woke up and came aboard. I will accept the support from any African American who wants to join the call for reform of Hip Hop music. I am happy Oprah had the show and I hope the energy doesn't die before I get to see Snoop Dogg or Jay Z forced to defend their negative music and videos. Maybe, Trick Daddy will be inspired to change his name. I am a responsible man a Hip Hop artist and I am willing to hold my fellow Hip Hoppers to the same level of responsibility.