Feed on Posts or Comments 30 July 2021

Miscellaneous Travis Hite on 25 Sep 2007 08:40 pm

I got 99 problems, but elected officials presiding over the House Energy and Commerce Comittee ain’t one.


Chances are, the people in the above image are not exactly the target audience for the Hip-Hop video being shown. Members of Congress, music industry executives, and rappers gathered for a meeting, titled “From Imus to Industry: The business of stereotypes and degrading images”. The title is derived from the Don Imus scandal. After Imus was fired over his “nappy headed hos” comment, a question reverberated: if the members of the Hip-Hop community are allowed to use such slang and slander in their music, then why was his usage such a problem?

The meeting was a lot of what you might already expect. Prominent rappers, including Master P, were paraded on stage and spoke of being true to their culture. The important question in the debate seemed to be, is this creative expression, or is it corporate exploitation of black culture? It seems as if this debate will never come to a true closure. The corruption of youth culture has been on the tongues of parents since the days of Elvis. This comes down to the age old question of the chicken or the egg, does the culture generate the content, or does the content generate the culture? As quoted in the Yahoo News coverage:

“If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities,” rapper and record producer David Banner, whose real name is Levell Crump, said in prepared statements to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. “Drugs, violence and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed.”

If nothing else, one agreement can be made by all in attendance. While there is a problem with the culture that throws around offensive words such as “bitches, hos, and nigger”, words that are demeaning and derogatory in nature, government censorship is not an option. If a change is to come, it is from the music producers, or from the culture itself. Of course, even if this culture leaves, another self-destructive culture is likely to take its place. Consider the following comparison made in the previously mentioned Yahoo! News article:

The hearing was reminiscent of, although tamer than, a similar event in 1985. At the earlier hearing, lawmakers where exposed to Van Halen‘s “Hot for Teacher” and Twisted Sister‘s “We’re Not Going to Take It,” and the late rocker Frank Zappa hurled insults at Tipper Gore, wife of then-Sen. Al Gore, and Susan Baker, wife of then Treasury Secretary James Baker, who were urging the recording industry to voluntarily police itself on song lyrics.

The cycle is likely endless, and the debate rages on.

[See the video webcast of the hearing here]

One Response to “I got 99 problems, but elected officials presiding over the House Energy and Commerce Comittee ain’t one.”

  1. on 30 Sep 2007 at 11:53 PM 1.Mike Lentricchia said …

    hate when they do this shit.

    by the way, you may want to fix the grammar of “Prominent old-school, for instance Master P, were paraded on stage and spoke of being true to their culture.” Also Master P isn’t really an old-school rapper by an measure, I think his debut album was around ’98 ;) Otherwise, good article.

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