I don’t mean to suggest that these civil rights-era black leaders tend to be uneducated and have a tendency to pull facts out of their ass, but reading yesterday’s news item about Al Sharpton’s “Day of Outrage” against hip-hop lyrics I couldn’t help but wonder where he gets his information.
In particular, there’s a bit about how record companies have lyrics committees that screen rap lyrics to make sure there’s nothing in them that’s offensive to anyone other than
black people black women.
Here’s the entire quote for your reading pleasure.
“Every record company has what they call a lyrics committee, where they screen lyrics to make sure they’re not against police, or gays, or Jews,” he said. “Well how come they’re clearing lyrics against blacks and women?”
Obviously I can’t claim to know for certain one way or the other, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t true. Off the top of my head, I can think of plenty of examples of rap lyrics that could be viewed as offensive to gays and police, and especially gay police.
And rightfully so. I don’t think I need to describe for you fruits, many of whom I’m sure have had your share of run-ins, what’s wrong with the police. And I’m not saying there’s anything particularly wrong from a moral standpoint with two guys giving it to one another in the a, because I’m not a Christian supremacist or (worse) an Islamic fascist like that, but it’s definitely gross, and it’s leading to the spread of AIDS in our community.
As far as the thing with the Jews, even that you have to wonder about. Of course the first example to spring to my mind, which, again, would suggest that Al Sharpton is full of shit is the time Lyor Cohen had copies of Mos Def’s The New Danger (which hardly anyone was buying anyway) pulled from shelves due to the line about how tall Israelis are running this rap shit.
(Did you girls know that this incident was the source of the term tall Israeli, or TI, which is used to refer to hip-hop label executives? It’s true, look it up!)
It’s hard to tell which record company owns which these days (you know how these TIs operate), but I’m pretty sure the Mos Def album was released on one of these labels that’s controlled by the Universal Music Group, just like Def Jam and Interscope. And you’d think it’d be pretty difficult for a line like that to escape this alleged lyrics committee.
Granted it could be argued that the line was intended primarily as a slap at Lyor Cohen in particular, and not the (vast) community of Jewish record executives in general, but come on. Since when has a Jew had a hard time finding anti-semitism in a ham sandwich, let alone a rap song that reveals the true nature of the ownership class in hip-hop?
(Note: jimi izrael uses that line about ham sandwiches a lot, though usually in reference to homophobia rather than anti-semitism. The last time I borrowed it he accused me of stealing it from him, so I guess I’d better give credit where credit’s due. He’s crazy like that.)
So maybe Al Sharpton made that whole thing about record companies having lyrics committees up. Still I think he managed to bring up a good point, whether he intended to or not. If rappers are going to be offensive (and they’d damn well better be) they shouldn’t just focus it all on black women, regardless of how much black women deserve it.
One of the joys of listening to hip-hop back in the days of Ice Cube’s Death Certificate is that rappers had the balls to go against the likes of shady Jewish record executives and Korean grocery store owners who set up shop in the hood (and sometimes shot black kids in the face) as well as the usual assortment of scandalous bitches and bitch-ass niggas.
Of course I don’t agree with Al Sharpton that rap music should be censored, through McCarthyite tactics or otherwise, but I do find it unfortunate that so much of the offensive nature of rap music these days is focused on black women. It’s like, Dude, we get it. Black women are sucking the joy out of an already rather joyless existence for black men. Let’s focus on someone else for a minute!