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.
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.
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.
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