by Paula Neal Mooney
Oprah is conducting two days worth of town hall meetings taking hip-hop to task, asking the oh-so-poignant question:
Now that Don Imus has been fired for calling black women hos, what should happen to the rappers that do the same thing?
It's the same question I asked in my recent post about Imus, and I'm gladder than glad that Oprah is bringing it to her show.
Though parts of Oprah's hip hop town hall weren't shown due to coverage of yesterday's truly tragic Virginia Tech shootings, a good portion of Oprah's show about rap still played.
I'm praying above all else that these hip hop town hall discussions will lead sponsors to pull the funding from only those rappers who unapologetically call women bitches and hos and objectify naked booty-shaking women in their videos.
I could kiss award-winning newspaper columnist Jason Whitlock, a writer for The Kansas City Star, who noted that we as a people have yet to attack our own use of hateful words in the black community as vehemently and pointedly as we attacked Don Imus.
"There's been some attention to it but never with the enthusiasm, the tenacity that we just went after Don Imus," Whitlock noted in this video snippet of part one of Oprah's hip hop town hall.
"White people do something, we go full steam and want to hold them accountable," Jason continued among protests by Rev. Al Sharpton and Asha Bandele, "...we need to hold ourselves accountable."
Jason said we also need to respect ourselves in this other video of Oprah's town hall hip hop summit.
Nelly's "Tip Drill" Video Outrage
Poet, author and former Essence editor Asha Bandele noted that the women of Spellman College successfully protested Nelly's plans to appear at their school.
"Years ago brilliant young women at Spellman College stopped Nelly from coming to that school after he did that disgusting Tip Drill..." Asha declared about the Spellman women, including one in this video slice of Gayle King's interview on Oprah regarding hip hop.
She's referring to Nelly's Tip Drill video, which I'd heard about but had never seen – not a frequenter was I of BET's uncut videos -- which, thank the Lord -- has been cancelled due to protests that BET was allowing pornography on television.
But I just watched Nelly's "Tip Drill" video and must concur with Asha. I can't believe they would ever show that filth on TV.
How far we've come since the days that they banned Rod Stewart from just singing, "spread your wings and let me come inside," on his Tonight's the Night song!
Tip Drill is sad. I cannot in good conscience link to, but will tell you that it contains troubled black women shaking their bare butts in front of cameras that focus on their body parts a lot more than their faces.
Again, I still like Nelly -- I always liked his fast flow and good looks. I love his affection for baseball.
If only he would drop the bravado BS and focus on the sentiment he displayed in some of the lyrics from "Ride With Me" instead:
It feel strange now
Makin a livin' off my brain, instead of 'caine now…
Running credit checks with no shame now
Oprah's Challenge to Rev. Al Sharpton
"Will you now attack the entertainment industry...for its images and depiction of women as vehemently as you did Don Imus?"
Rev. Sharpton assured Oprah, "We've said all along that we're against this...We will continue...and talk...to artists who've said:
'I can't get a contract because I won't say ho, I won't say bitch, I won't do violence...' "
"We're gonna talk about that tomorrow," Oprah said, referring part two of her town hall on hip-hop, where Common and Russell Simmons will get to respond to these charges.
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Today's Oprah show will have Russell Simmons; record executive Kevin Liles; Dr. Benjamin Chavis, former CEO of the NAACP and current President/CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Network; and Grammy-winning rapper Common all responding to the criticism.
A Modern-Day Minstrel Show
New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch also captured my heart when he said that rappers have been authenticated by this kind of dehumanizing content.
"The white people get scared because they say, 'Oh, I don’t want to say anything against authentic black culture' and the middle class black culture is afraid to stand up against something from the bottom—"
"Being called a sell-out," Oprah rightly interjected.
"--yeah, 'You following white values' " Crouch mocked the derision some of us blacks who stand up to this Neanderthalish non-sense are met with.
"There's no value that's whiter than minstrelsy -- the minstrel performing was created by white people and it's perpetuated by this form."
Amen! Let's stop the minstrel show.
Case in point: The Ying Yang Twins, as satirized so eloquently by Dave Chappelle, who is wearing black face in this video.
We are not laughing with you Ying Yang Twins, we are laughing at you…
And I'm grateful that Rev. Sharpton chimed in to encourage blacks folks to stop hating on those of us whom they feel "aren't black enough" for "talking white" and such...
At the same token, us middle class blacks cannot look down our noses at other blacks we don't feel are on our level, but instead encourage with love and stress the value -- not nerdiness or "trying-to-act-whitness" -- that a good education brings.
Rev. Sharpton proudly declared that he himself came out of poverty.
Snoop Dogg -- be Delivered!
Next, former Essence editor Diane Weathers pointed out the sadness of photos that I've seen recently of Snoop Dogg carrying women around on dog leashes.
Snoop also creates porn movies and nearly got a cameo appearance on The Muppet Show!
Snoop Dogg currently has an XM radio show irreverently called "Welcome to Da Church" that an Essence magazine writer also criticized.
Opponents of those artists who blatantly disrespect our mothers, daughters, wives and ourselves as women need to put pressure on their sponsors until this hatred is also removed from the airways as swiftly and assuredly as Don Imus was removed.
It's up to us as black women to say "no more!" and hit these backers where it hurts -- in their wallets -- to get the women-hating songs off the air!
Yet and still, I feel there is still plenty of room for Snoop to be saved from the thinking that encourages his sons to date, while he prefers his little girl to remain chaste.
"That ain't nothing but the devil," Snoop has said of his past marital indiscretions.
I pray he realizes who is leading him and once again yields to God’s change in his heart, understanding that the women he carts around on dog leashes represent females like his own daughter.
Focus on the Good Rap -- Because It Does Exist!
In all this cleaning up the airways, I want to make clear that all rap is not bad and hateful.
There are good artists doing positive things in the rap genre, all whom should receive more attention and more funding, and not get lost in the shuffle.
Here are EXCELLENT rap artists that deserve their days in the sun:
L.G. Wise - Greatest Hits
LaDelle Walker, whose Deja Vu song is so wonderfully replete with lyrical images of a person dreaming of being harmed, but wakes up and realizes he needs to change.
"Mama you were right," LaDelle sings with painful understanding, "I'm gonna get my life together..."
Big City, a holy hip-hopper -- whose "Christ is All I Need" rap video is being released soon!
Da Minista – I love his rushed and beautiful cadence on his smooth "Don't You Wanna Be Saved" song. Watch the video here. Slamming!
And last but never least, Knowledge MC, whose "Bring It In" lyrics are a call to arms to the women shaking their stuff atop bars and the men promoting this mess:
Players, pimps, hustlers, thugs...
...shorties that strip for a living and cats that sling drug
Come as you are
Right where you are, hop off that bar
Ma, in God’s eyes ain’t no love lost
Carry your cross
There is hope for hip hop.
There is redemption.
There is love.