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The Story

Rick Ross’s song, U.O.E.N.O., has spawned a lot of controversy for its lyrics. Specifically a line in the song that says:

“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”

It has been argued that the song condones date rape. Ross received a lot of heat behind the song’s release causing him to lose his endorsement with Reebok and make a public apology. Ross has stated that he does not support date rape.

From the controversy, a number of conversations has begun regarding violence and misogny in Hip Hop culture and rap music. One of the more notable discussions is a twitter discussion that occurred between rappers Lupe Fiasco and Talib Kweli. The two rappers had a much publicized intellectual debate on the issue of violence in rap lyrics.

Lupe Fiasco, a long time opponent to gangsta rap and rap music like it, asserted that rappers such as Rick Ross should be held accountable and disowned by the Hip Hop community. Fiasco believes that music is such a big part of Black culture and, therefore, has too much influence to be wielded haphazardly.

Talib Kweli agrees that rappers should be held accountable for the music they create but he believes that only way to change these individuals is by embracing them and showing the error of their ways.

Some clips of the dialogue on the current state of rap music:

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In address of the issues of how to deal with rappers who use violent lyrics:

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The two rappers went back and forth going as far as drawing on current events, Hip Hop history, and even Marxism to support their views in a discussion that lasted for 20 minutes.

The Problem

Due to the controversy of Lupe Fiasco’s tweets, his management company has taken control of his twitter account. Numerous tweets were release to stating that Fiasco willingly gave up his twitter account to his management to focus on “other projects.” So one of the best public conversation to occur between two rappers in probably the last five years has been quelled because the industry might deem it bad for a rapper’s image.

This further reiterates Hip Hop culture’s loss of freedom and negation of the power it once possessed. When I think about rappers like N.W.A. who produced songs like Fuck The Police or Public Enemy that gave us songs like Fear of a Black Planet and Fight The Power, I am reminded of what made Hip Hop what it is today: it’s sincere, uncensored, uncompromised voice.

The Point

It warmed my heart to see the debate take place. Not only because the public does not often see intellectual discourse from rappers but also because these are the exact people who should be having this discussion. The general public and the media pundits will always voice their opinions (sometimes we could do without them) but those individuals who are directly involved in the matter at hand should be the ones to conclude what can or should be done. All too often Hip Hop and rap music is objectified and criticized by individuals from outside the community. This creates masturbatory rhetoric that neither arrives at a solution to he problem nor accurately diagnoses it.

If Rap music is ever going to redeem its former glory and remain true to the Hip Hop culture that birthed it, rappers will have to continue to stand up and speak out. When issues about the music, or culture arise, rappers (as some of the most visible representatives) should take to the forefront of the conversation, regardless of whether they agree. It cannot be left in the hands of some external force or individual to address, diagnose, or solve Hip Hops’s problems.

“One does not fight to influence change and then leave the change to someone else to bring about.”

– Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,

An Angry Black Man

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Comments
  1. Onitaset says:

    Back in 1993, C. Delores Tucker (1927-2005) spoke against the degradation of Black women in rap music (familiar?) Many rappers criticized her. Tupac responded in “How do u want it?” :

    “C. Delores Tucker you’s a motherfucker / Instead of trying to help a nigga you destroy a brother”.

    20 years later . . .

    “There grows no wheat where there is no grain.”

    Is it an intellectual conversation or a propaganda piece for progress?

    • DesiBjorn says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “propaganda piece for progress,” please expound on that thought.

      • Onitaset says:

        “The press carries out written propaganda.” — Marcus Garvey

        I’m just saying, this conversation seems intellectual, but if we understand that our enemies are always communicating propaganda, the question here is what for? It looks like just a spur of the moment conversation. It looks like rap is growing, progressing, finally reflecting. But we see that the conversation is 20-years old and it’s a recurring one. Why? To give those of us who are newly tuning in the idea that things are getting better-to bare with everything-meanwhile the damage is being done. What better way to knock you out than to drop your guard?

      • DesiBjorn says:

        Interesting perspective.

  2. mizdoss says:

    Oh I sooooo agree with your point!!!! Hip Hop artists should be the ones discussing (mainstream) things like this rather than the press, and other ppl who have no understanding of Black America, or the Hip Hop community. I love Lupe and Talib, I enjoyed the debate. An educated conversation between two notable artists. As for the takeover of Lupe’s acct. IDK why, I don’t see those comments jeoperdizing his rep. THIS is the type of discussions that should be held on TV (BET might just get the black audience back) Wish this could have been presented on BET’s Don’t Sleep.

    Just a lil of the TRUTH

    • DesiBjorn says:

      I’m with you on that. BET is such a failure…there should be some public platform where artists can discuss issues like this.

      Thanks for reading and responding.

  3. Sian Mann says:

    Great post, and an even better discussion between Talib and Lupe. I constantly find myself refreshing Immortal Technique’s Twitter site because he is one intelligent character, whose thoughts, discussions and insights far exceed that of those in the media – in my opinion. I think it is important that rappers weigh in on the issues that affect them directly. The Rick Ross controversy gave people yet another reason to slander hip hop and rappers alike, grouping them all together as a bunch of misogynists who are encouraging rape culture (broad statement, these comments I read were made on a Facebook page swarming with anti-hip hop, die hard feminist folk). I say let the rappers defend themselves, and watch as those in the media and outside the hip hop listening party sit in shock that hip hop artists are intellectuals.

    Whilst I shared the same response to Rick Ross’ lyrics, which were, ‘Really Ross? Come on, man’, I saw these sorts of lyrics coming out at some point in the mainstream hip hop scene – where there is a whole lot of talking devoid of thought and meaning – now I stick to the underground for that sincere, uncensored and uncompromising voice you spoke of.

    Just had to drop my thoughts, not sure if they made sense, I’m in a rush!

    • DesiBjorn says:

      I think all the “Hip Hop idealists” feel this way. What we have learned and know of Hip Hop music makes us dissatisfied with the mainstream. But in truth Hip Hops’s underground has always been the driving force of the music, even the trends that make it mainstream come from something that probably started underground years before.

      And the Rick Ross thing, while I also was not loving his lines in the song, I didn’t feel the song actually was suggesting that he supported rape as much as it demonstrated a larger context for what the MAINSTREAM society thinks of party drugs and what is acceptable in those contexts. What he said wasn’t news. That’s been happening to people in those scenes and I think the women in those situations aren’t oblivious to the dangers but yet they still participate. So, then, the real issue is what is so appealing to these women about going out and getting so twisted they don’t know who they slept with or who slept with them (whether it is completely consensual or not). That’s a society issue not just a Rick Ross issue.

      That’s one of the things about Hip Hop that I love it absorbs from from the world around to create it’s arts. So you can almost guarantee if there’s something disturbing in the music, it probably picked up from something disturbing in society.

      Preciate the dialogue…that’s what I do this for. Thanks for reading and responding.

      • Sian Mann says:

        I have no problem with Rappers gaining commercial and mainstream success as long as their work maintains the same substance that it did before the hype – the issue is that the two often don’t correlate. But I can sympathise with the whole “artist’s need to growth and evolve” argument too.

        But you’re spot on there. I think people know that Hip Hop isn’t the only genre to glorify the sex/drug/party lifestyle, so the issue isn’t so much what Rick Ross said, but a) why is it not a big deal when Pop artist’s do/say/imply similar ideas and b) why’d Ross feel he could say it. Both inherently lie in society’s issues, as you put it perfectly “…it demonstrated a larger context for what the MAINSTREAM society thinks of party drugs and what is acceptable in those contexts. ”

        And definitely. I think Hip Hop is still the world’s most sincere representation of what is happening in society, and I doubt that’ll change, and is probably what worries a lot of people who fail to connect with the culture – it gives voice to the voiceless, and power to the powerless.

        Thanks though, it’s nice to actually have a discussion on WordPress!

      • DesiBjorn says:

        And I was extremely pissed to hear Kweli and Lupevwere discouraged from continuing their discussion. It’s like the industry was offended that two Hip Hopmartists could engage in an intellectual debate instead of some tabloid beef. Never saw them discouraging any of the dramatic superficial disagreements artists have had.

        And it is good to have a discussion on WordPress. It’s what I do this for lol. So thank you for engaging me.

      • Sian Mann says:

        The industry was probably annoyed because you can’t make money off an intellectual discussion, but beef, two disgruntled rappers having a “twitter war” – hell yes. $$$$$.

        Not a problem, I look forward to more of your posts too. Not just on Hip Hop either, you make some important and insightful social commentary as well that I am eager to read more of.

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