Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Oprah's Hip Hop Town Hall Takes Women-Hating Rappers to Task

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.

Hip-Hop Hypocrisy?
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!

Gospel Ganstaz

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
Raise up!
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.

19 comments:

James said...

Oprah speciality is putting down blackmen. The other 2 brothers are marched anytime white America needs someone black to put down their own. I would rather get hit by a truck than to be on Oprah's show and sit on a stage to try and right for white slave masters, the undoing of Imus. This is plantation house N-words at their best.To balance the scales, dose she speak to the jobs hiphop generates or the good Nelly dose for his community. I met him at a super bowl and did not know who he was but he was a down to earth gentleman. Anythings Oprah stands for, is unworthy of respect

laura said...

Thanks for highlighting the good rappers. That needs to happen more often.

Every parent of every teen who likes rap should take note of their names. When their teen wants rap they should be pointed in the direction of the good rappers.

Another excellent piece!

Manchild said...

Hello Paula,

What an excellent summary of the diversity of viewpoints as presented during Oprah's show!

ABC re-aired Oprah's show in its entirety at 1a.m. since it was preempted. Yes, I taped it. It was well worth losing some sleep to watch.

I perceive this defining moment in humanity's ever-evolving history as an opportunity for personal growth. This movement didn't start with Imus nor will it end with him. We've only just begun.

C. Delores Tucker and many others have been doing battle to clean up gangsta rap and music industry for over 10 years. But the media refused to cover it like they're doing now.

Even when the eloquent, self-respecting, dignified women from Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia protested the music video "Tip Drill" by Nellie, the media coverage was minimal.

As explained by other grass roots organization, who've commented on this issue, the outrage is the direct result of Imus targeting, with specificity, the intelligent, progressive, and talented women of the Rutger's basketball team.

The women said, "Enough Is Enough!!" Essence said it. Women all over the world are saying it. Sharpton got involved only after he was asked by the women to do so.

Change is inevitable despite the fact that old habits die hard. The paradigms are finally shifting. It's just a matter of time before women receive all the love, honor, and respect you deserve.

SweetGyrl & StreetBoyz2biznizmen said...

PAULA I LOVE THIS!! SOO HAPPY, THIS IS BEING ADDRESSED I LOVE THIS, ITS TIME ITS TIME ITS TIME!! PRAISE THE LORD.

SweetGyrl & StreetBoyz2biznizmen said...

James that is the problem, with Black men and Women, unless you disrespect women, you would not have a problem, black men need to be held accountable for the degration of women in music, that is ALL OPRAH IS DOING.

I AM GLAD PAULA HIGHLIGHTED THE "GOOD RAPPERS"

KWiz said...

Wow, Paula. What a fabulous post! While the Oprah show was pre-empted yesterday afternoon, it was re-aired in Atlanta at 1:00am (I did see much of it until about 2:00am - I have a day job!).

You did a remarkable job of summarizing and commenting on this issue. And so great to highlight rappers who are actual artists.

And thank you for highlighting those wonderful ladies from Spelman College. Spelman is a wonderful institution, and it is appropriate that those young ladies' efforts to bring the issue even further into the spotlight is being brought to the forefront.

But don't forget about those rappers and hip-hop artists of days-gone-by - Whodini, Grandmaster Flash, Public Enemy, RUN DMC, Heavy D, and others. I really wish they would just release much of the rap and hip-hop back from the 70s and 80s. I'd buy it again!

Thank you again Paula!

Anonymous said...

Well, James. How about the hip hop industry's specialty of putting down women? Oh, I see. It's okay for you to talk smack about women, but how dare someone say something about black men. That's BS and you know it. You don't want to be called out? Stop referring to women in songs as "bitches," "sluts," and "hos."

And that charity thing goes two ways. Don Imus has a charity ranch for cancer stricken children. Are you so forgiving of Imus based on his charitable contributions?

Bunch of crap and YOU know it, James. You'd probably be happy seeing all of us women back in a place of property - unable to hold land, unable to vote.

JerseyTjej said...

I have not seen the Oprah show but will look for it on the tube. I question how a husband and father like Snoop separates or justifies this asinine behavior to his family? Visiting from Atasha's blog. Gurl!!! Bring that fiyah! I must add you to my rss and blogroll!

Jim.Legington said...

Paula Thanks,
This is another great Post and I added it on http://del.icio.us/upperroom
also. Our God is Good-Keep Hope Alive!

SweetGyrl & StreetBoyz2biznizmen said...

I CANT HELP BUT TO COME BACK HERE AN REPOST, I SO KNOW THIS THING ABOUT HIP HOP IS TRUE, I REMEMBER OVER A DECADE ARGUING WITH A THEN BOYFRIEND, AND HE STARTED CURSING ME OFF A SONG HE HEARD EAZY E AND NWA SINGING, I KNOW IT INFLUENCES MEN AND BOYS, WE WERE IN OUR EARLY 20'S LATE TEENS, THIS STUFF IS REAL, AND KIDS TAKE IT LITERALLY ESPECIALLY, HIGHLIGHTING JAIL, COP KILLING, BITCHES, HO'S , CHICS, BABY MOMMAS, ALL NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES WE DELIVER TO OURSELVES! SO GO FLY A KITE "JAMES"

Martin Lindsey. said...

I'm glad Oprah is doing this series. This is the type of response I was hoping for from prominent African Americans with influence. This is the next logical phase. Attack and destroy the disease within.

I can also back Rev. Sharpton for having always spoken out against crap-rap. I heard him do so myself when he was a guest at my old church almost 15 years ago. He's just never been able to get any wide spread attention on the subject. Now, he and Oprah teaming up with others to help kick hip hops sponsors and advertisers in the pants is what will make an actual difference. That's what I want to see.

I wasn't just kidding about Snoop and the rest of the crowd in my post last month when I asked Who jacked my hip-hop?. I was very serious. Turned out to be a timely question.

A Black man leading Black women around on leashes. Just proves the importance of history and shows you who wasn't paying attention in school.

TJ said...

This whole thing that seems to be a huge issue is well... not really an issue at all, I thought taking away American freedoms like Idunno...the freedom of speech was something completely reserved for G.W. now, it is apparent that anyone in a high tax bracket wants to "protect the public," funny enough, they never seem to make there way to the hood.

I just wish they all would give me a break... Our community needs to get it together and focus on more important stuff like finding a real representative to speak on issues that are important in this generation...and by they way did you actually see the Rutgers team? My own mother even said they where nappy headed ho's..

Anyway Oprah has too much time and money if she really wants to hel she should do a show on political prisoner still detained in U.S. prisons without any charges...that's just my two sense

James said...

I have read all the comments and with the exception of tj, they all say the same thing. Great Post, Oprah is wonderful, and the problem with blackmen is discussed by a couple.
I agree the post is excellent, I have tremendous admiration for Paula. I was raise by black women, married 2 black women, and do not want for black women to be dissrespected. The timing seems like we are trying to make up to white folk over Imus. Black bloggers are a active voice, I posted on a study on black bloggers.I have met Stanley Crouch and his wife at LE Cirqe in New York and respect him. I also have met Nelly and saw the love he has for his now deceased sister. Mr Crouch puts down our youth on a regular basis and the sports writer referred to Rev. Jackson and Sharpton as terrorist, 2 of the most respected names in the black community.
The comments and debate is healthy, Like Paula, I first felt Imus should keep his job. I changed my mind after reading many blogs
Again my problem is the timing, and as Gwen Ifill said on "Meet The Press" where was all of the concern a month ago.
Where was the protester with Oprah when "The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Rev Sharpton had a hip hop summit to address this same issue.Where was anonymous then?Paula, as always, great work.

kweenkong said...

That contentious Oprah show yesterday with Russell Simmons, Common, Kevin Liles and others was something else!

I've blogged about two of the Oprah Shows addressing the raw nerve that Imus touched, too. Come check it out when you get a chance. And you know, I always love your comments!

Fredric said...

we've talked about it. we'll keep talking about it.

let's do a little action.

http://ybpguide.com/2007/04/20/minus-one-plus-one/.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated Oprah's forum, but I feel that everyone wanted Hip-Hop to take responsibility solely for disrespect of all women. The facts are taht women have a choice whether or not they want to participate in videos such as Nelly's Tip Drill. Everyone on Oprah's panel seemed to speak about accountability, but its starts with individuals. One of the many comments from Gail on the 2nd half of the town hall meeting caught my attention. That certainm men say that it's okay to call women bitches and ho's because they see it in the rap videos. Ive listened to many spectrums of Hip- Hop forprobably the last 16 years of my 22 year existence on this Earth and never have I been compelled to call any women a bitch or a hoe. Even if I did I'm intelligent enough to know thatit's not correct to use such terminology towards women.

Paula Neal Mooney said...

I heard another rap artist's music that I like this morning.

He's called Prodigal 1 and his song, "It's Time," says:

It's time to make up your mind
Time to decide
The Lord is calling you
What cha gonna do?
What cha gonna do?
It's time...

Buy Prodigal 1's music here, including It's Time

pywebb said...

I am a single mother of 3 daughters who LOVES hip hop. I think the show was very one sided. We want men, the industry and white people to change. What about the women who go to the auditions and will do anything to be in the videos. This is America if their is a market it will sell. All we can do as America black women is to take care of ourselves and our own. I do not want anyone telling me what I can listen to. I know that I am not a whore although I can sometimes be bitchy :)I know who am and music does not define me.

PE said...

It's good that you bring good names to the table, Snoop Dogg AKA Snoop Lion has been very much in the spotlight right now and it's good. It's alot of rappers out there and only a few get famous. There are alot rappers in many countries. Not only in USA, they are biggest thoe, keep the good posts up because I with many others think you're doing a great job! RESPECT

Paula Neal Mooney