FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Watching the Detectives

by ROCK And RAP CONFIDENTIAL

On April 19, rapper Wise Intelligent sent out an email which included the following:

“It has always been my position that the black rapper is NOT allowed to address or lend his voice to any issue that confronts the community from which he comes, knowing that if he did, like Don Imus, he would lose his major corporation sponsorship, i.e. his contract!”

The immediate provocation for Wise Intelligent’s statement was a mid-April interview of Young Buck by Angie Martinez on New York’s Hot 97. Buck told Martinez that Interscope had refused to allow him to include the track “Fuck tha Police” on his new Buck the World album. Buck said “they blamed it on the lyric committee, so I researched to see if it was a real lyric committeethe lyric committee is in Interscope’s building.”

Although this important story was ignored by the media, it was still the first time in nearly fifteen years that lyric committees had been publicly mentioned by anyone.

By the end of the 1980s, under pressure from Al and Tipper Gore’s PMRC, the police, and the FBI all major labels had set up in-house lyric committees to censor music. “For every song that’s recorded we ask for copies of the lyrics from the artist,” Paul Atkinson, former Zombies guitarist and then head of A&R at MCA told the New York Times in 1990. “The recording then gets listened to not only by the A&R department buy by someone in business affairs.” At the time, that someone at MCA was lawyer Lawrence Kwensil, who claimed that artists were glad to be censored.

Within just two years, the lyric committees played a direct role in getting the likes of Ice T, Kool G Rap, Body Count, Paris, and Almighty RSO dumped by major labels for criticizing the police in song. Several other rap artists were forced to alter or delete songs about the cops.

As night follows day, hip hop inexorably turned away from socially conscious themes toward bling bling, a process initiated by the major labels and their lyric committees. This trend was reinforced by threats, picket lines, and violence by police at rap shows and against individual rappers.

Now Young Buck has proven what we have always suspected-that the lyric committees have not gone away and that they continue to do their dirty work in secret. Young Buck has also shown the world that the uproar over hip hop lyrics has nothing to do with alleged concerns about women or violence, it’s about the fact “that the black rapper is NOT allowed to address or lend his voice to any issue that confronts the community from which he comes.”

Since the music industry has pressured our political representatives in Congress to not only give them unprecedented legal power to target file sharers but also to receive massive tax breaks, don’t we as citizens and taxpayers have the right to know who is on these lyric committees, when they meet, and what actions they take?

In the wake of the May 1 police riot at a Los Angeles immigration march, which is just the most notorious recent example of rampant police abuse, we should all insist that our artists be allowed to tell the truth about violence and who perpetrates it. We should also be prepared to support those artists when the backlash from the police and their friends in the music industry hits the fan.

ROCK and RAP CONFIDENTIAL, one of the few newsletters both editors of CounterPunch read from front to back the moment it arrives, is edited by Lee Ballinger and Dave Marsh and now it’s available to you for FREE simply by sending an email to: rockrap@aol.com.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail