Itawamba Student Sues District Over Rap

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Taylor Bell is suing his high school over free-speech violations a year after another controversy at the school drew attention.

A year ago, the Itawamba County School District made national news for electing to cancel Itawamba Agricultural High School's prom rather than allow lesbian student Constance McMillen to bring her girlfriend as her date. A federal judge ultimately ruled that the district had violated McMillen's First Amendment rights. Now, the district faces another lawsuit alleging that it denied a student's constitutional rights.

Taylor Bell is an 18-year-old senior at the same school that Constance McMillen attended. Until Jan. 7, his only serious disciplinary problem had been a one-day, in-school suspension for being tardy to class. After graduation, Bell plans to attend Itawamba Community College. He's also an aspiring rap musician who has been writing, performing and recording songs since he was 13, using the stage name "T-Bizzle."

Around Christmas of last year, Bell heard some female students at IAHS allege that two male coaches at the school were flirting and touching them inappropriately.

"Girls were saying, 'The coach is looking down my shirt,' or, 'He's saying that my butt is big,' " Bell said. "One girl, a gay girl, (said that one coach) was like, 'If you wasn't so gay, I would turn you out.' Stuff like that you just don't say to students--really, individuals period, but especially not to students."

The next day, Bell said, he had scheduled studio time. In 20 minutes, he wrote three verses about the allegations and recorded them. On Jan. 3, he posted the song on his Facebook page. He says he never asked other students to listen to the song, never accessed it from school and used no school equipment to record it.

Administrators at IAHS got word of the song anyway, and on Jan. 7, they pulled Bell out of class to question him about lyrics that they considered threatening. They honed in on one section, in which Bell rapped, "Looking down girls' shirts / drool running down your mouth / messing with the wrong one / going to get a pistol down your mouth."

Bell says the lyrics were meant to warn the coaches that their alleged behavior could incite a reprisal from the girls' relatives.

"What I was saying was, 'You keep messing with the wrong person's child, you never know who's going to come after you,'" Bell said. "I didn't say that I, personally, was going to do that; I don't have any reason to. I've never harmed anybody. I don't shoot people."

Nevertheless, school officials suspended Bell until a disciplinary hearing. At the Jan. 26 hearing, school-board members decided that "the issue of whether or not lyrics published by Taylor Bell constituted threats to school district teachers was vague," according to a letter from School Board Attorney Michele Floyd to Bell's mother, Dora Bell. "[H]owever, they determined that the publication of those lyrics did constitute harassment and intimidation of two school district teachers, which is a violation of School Board Policy and state law."

Bell gave Floyd two written letters from students confirming the allegations that he mentioned, but the board did not discuss them further. The board then voted to suspend Bell for the remainder of the nine-week quarter.

The Itawamba senior has spent two weeks at the county's alternative school, which he says is inadequate compared to IAHS.

On Feb. 24, Bell filed a lawsuit against the school district, Superintendent Teresa McNeece and IAHS Principal Trae Wiygul, alleging violations of his constitutional right to free speech. The suit asks for Bell's reinstatement at IAHS, expungement of his record and $1.

"It's more a question of principle for him than it is the consequences," Bell's attorney, Wil Colom, said.

McNeece did not return a call for comment, and Floyd declined to comment, citing district policy. "We do not discuss pending litigation, especially when it's involving a student," Floyd said.

In a March 2 filing, Colom argued that there is little precedent allowing schools to restrict students' threatening speech.

"While the government can proscribe a true threat of violence without offending the First Amendment, it may only do so when the threat is intentional, direct and serious," Colom wrote. "Taylor never took actions to ensure the song was heard by the coaches, and a song with hyperbolic and symbolic lyrics cannot be viewed as serious when the student did not convey the threats to anyone with a relationship to the alleged victims."

Previous Comments

ID
162485
Comment

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2011-03-09T13:32:58-06:00
ID
162491
Comment

Speaking of free speech.

Author
jbreland
Date
2011-03-09T16:31:50-06:00
ID
162495
Comment

Just seeing this; just back from Oxford. It's not like Kaze to be personally offensive enough to get a comment deleted. I'm wondering if this was a tech glitch, but I'll ask around about your "free speech" quip, Jackson. But come on: You're smart enough to know that no one has "free speech" rights on a private website. The owners of the site offer the privilege of posting here in exchange for self-regulation and adherence to the user agreement.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-09T21:22:59-06:00
ID
162499
Comment

No glitch. I was editing and I couldn't post my changes for some reason. I wasnt censored lol. I was asking if JFP will be covering the trial today?

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2011-03-10T06:51:25-06:00
ID
162502
Comment

What about this coach? Are school officials investigating the allegations?

Author
Izzy
Date
2011-03-10T10:25:07-06:00
ID
162503
Comment

Anyone talk to the coaches just to verify the allegations? I know that's a stretch and we should all believe third party information through a 16 year old rapper but could it be the girls were lying? Teenagers have been known to do that. To post a song stirring up false allegations against innocent people doesn't fall under free speech I wouldn't think. I didn't see any quotes in the story from the girls who talked against them or the coaches themselves. I'm sorry but I have a hard time accepting something like this as total truth based on a rap song. What I read was they won't discuss pending allegations so maybe we should wait until everything out there before we get on out free speech soap box

Author
Alex0393
Date
2011-03-10T11:06:33-06:00
ID
162529
Comment

All, Taylor Bell and his lawyer, Scott Colom will be guests on Direct Line This Tuesday. We're going to go deeper into this issue. We'll also have Donna and ACLU exec Director Nsombi Lambright on the show. I was an expert witness for the plaintiff on Last thursday asked by Colom to analyze Bell's lyrics and give a little insight into the genre. Interesting day to say the least. Get ready for my column this week. Itawamba school disrict is at it again!

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2011-03-14T09:33:54-06:00
ID
162531
Comment

How about an old man's perspective on this matter. I'm just as afraid of Luke Skywalker as I am of Luke Woodam. I'm just as nervous meeting Suge Knight and Snoop Dog as I am Eric Harris and Dylan Klebod. Almost that is! All of them had guns, were angry and were unstable. Their fates are difference by happenstance only, not by anything else. Come on y'all the rappers have already corrupted our culture and have our boys more interested in being rappers, drug dealers, and pimps than doctors or lawyers, and our girls more interested in being fly-girls, hoochie mamas and arm-pieces for an on his way to jail rapper than for a working man doing construction, landscaping, working at Wal-Mart or in a struggling professional career. What good are rappers these days now that Tupac (a genius), Public Enemy (near genius) and other conscious and social activist rappers are no longer on the scene. I can make a strong argument that rappers and rap music ain't about diddley anymore. What is the good of rap nowadays? Other than something to dance to, laugh at, or try to pray away. For us old folks it's practically garbage! About 3 or 4 years ago we the human race finally decided to stand up to rappers and demand that they stop their women-hating, children-destroying, dope-slanging and self-loathing lyrical and projecting ways of life. Their record sales went down exponentially and for good cause. I couldn't wait to see if their musical product would get better. I honestly can't say it did. Am I left to believe that all rapper know how to do is cuss, show their behinds and hate and abuse women, and if you take that away they become silent and paralyzed? I don't consider Bell's lyrics here harassment at all. And I think the teachers are lecherous for their behavior and should be punished too if found to have engaged in the said conduct. And I take the letters from the girls as some proof. I wish Bell had chosen a few better words to express the same or similar ideas, especially with the use of the pistol metaphor or comment. Other than that I like Bell's explanation of what he was trying to do. If Bell is to succeed at being a rapper he will have to learn to censure himself or others will do it for him. I say let Bell back in regular school; otherwise, suspend the teachers too. The teachers have to set good examples or be admonished or fired.

Author
Walt
Date
2011-03-14T17:44:57-06:00
ID
162534
Comment

Walt, goodness, reading your post was outrageously difficult for me. I couldn't be more offended if you'd addressed me personally. While, I can only respect your opinion, I have to tell you that you are making generalizaions that positive, conscious hip hop ARTISTS fight against daily. Not to mention those of us who have grown up listening to rap and consider this to be a part of who we are. While you make good points of concern, please, please, please don't chunk all hip hop artists (or fans) into the general category of worthlessness. Just because you don't listen to rap enough to know that there are still positive rappers out there, does NOT mean they don't exist. It does not mean that any young man or woman who expresses themselves this way are murderers or killers, theives or drug dealers....no more so than all lawyers lack morality and are greedy, self-serving, corrupt, smart-mouthed idiots. There are still good hip hop artists out there and in Mississippi. There are some bad ones too. As far as I can tell you have always had the good and the bad and as long as life goes on, such will be the case. This kid doesn't have a history of violence, contrarily he seems to have been raised well and is on his way to being a self starter and a man who thinks for himself. If he was rapping about how bad of a job Obama was doing and said this same line, wonder if he'd be facing these same issues? He voiced his opinion. I thought we all had the right to do that. If he had done this in a country song would that make it any different?

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-03-15T07:52:09-06:00
ID
162535
Comment

Having said that, I agree with your last paragraph. As a mother to a teenage son, I do take issue with the use of the word pistol. Only because he could have expressed his sentiment about the issue another way. THAT would make him a good rapper. People use that word all the time. it's the person who can express him/herself without doing what everyone else does and provoke a response, that impacts the industry and the community. I think he is a very intelligent young man who, if he sticks with the ART of hip hop, will be able to transform his energy into a positive manifestation of what hip hop truly is -- a voice. So sorry if it isn't always what people want to hear. It wasn't when PE did it or NWA and it still isn't with Common Sense and Talib Kwali. Itawamba School district is not keeping up with the times based on the way they are treating students and compromising their rights.

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-03-15T08:09:45-06:00
ID
162545
Comment

I personally cannot stand rap, never have been able to but that in itself doesn't make it bad. My father hated Led Zeppelin among others when I was growing up. He said music had gone to hell which is exactly what I say to my kids now. I did take them to see Kid Rock the other night and thoroughly enjoyed it. He's a mixture of rap, rock and country if you can believe that. Music changes with each generation because music is rebellious and each generation wants to distinguish themselves from the last. Gangsta rap I have no understanding or sympathy for but I didn't grow up with it. The things they mentioned are horrible but then again so are the things Led Zeppelin promoted in their songs so who's to say? Anyway, just thought I'd throw my two cents in

Author
Alex0393
Date
2011-03-15T15:04:09-06:00
ID
162550
Comment

First of all, allow me to apologize for any implication that I'm targeting any specific person in anything I've said thus far especially the erased comments. I didn't mean to specifically offend anyone by my initial comments either. It was simply another perspective on rap and rappers. Unappreciated by some as it turns out. I also realize that hip hop is the soundtrack to the lives of many persons of this generation just as the music of Motown, Stax and Phily International were for many people of my generation. I doubt I would have stood for much criticism of it, although it sounded so good and had so many exemplary, commendable and valuable aspects it was beyond criticism and became the soundtrack of America and the world. My point was and is that many of us older persons consider Luke Skywalker a repugnant, horrible and unpleasant person. He might not pull a gun and take the lives of children but he will do and has done things just as spiritually damning and destructive. I don't have any reservation about putting Snoop Dog and Suge Knight in the same category. Neither is heroic in my opinion although I do think Snoop Dogg is funny and entertaining to some extent. Their making money or capital doesn't change a thing. I'm familiar with the good rappers Queen named and a few others unnamed. I like them too. They need to become the norm not the exception. I was hopeful that I would get a laundry list of reasons that I'm wrong about rap and hip hop and become enlightened as to how the genre had progressed since it debilitating blow a few years ago. Instead I got anger and rebuke. We old folks won't know unless the young folks teach us. Yeeeaaah! Again, I know we have many terrible individuals who are lawyers. Whenever the line forms to criticize them count me in. I don't have any high regards for them or judges generally. Sustained as to them. I had some more scathing criticisms of rappers to impart here but I'm scared to go on. I'm too old to fight these days. My arthritic and senility makes me an easy prey. Good luck to Bell with school and his rap career. Actually, I think he was trying to use his rap in this instance for a good purpose. If he learns to choose his words better he will likely become more successful in his goals. I suppose I should say I agree to large measure with what Queen says about her rap music. But I don't know that I believe the good outweighs the bad.

Author
Walt
Date
2011-03-15T16:50:20-06:00
ID
162553
Comment

It's amazing to me how people can blast the hell out of rap, but rock can be considered enjoyable? First and foremost - I enjoy all forms of music, from Pat Methany to Mile Davis, the Temptations to the Sundays, Toad the Wet Sprocket to 2 Live Crew, from ZZ Top to Kirk Franklin, Metallica to N.W.A, Slipknot to C & C Music Factory, Milli Vanili to the Brand New Heavies - (I've should have been a A&R rep, but that's for another day). Now whether you like one form of music over another, that's you perogative - but to single out a genre of music saying in regards to relevance in society, is sacrilegus. If you gonna call out uncle luke, you have to call out Kiss, Motley Crue, and ZZ Top as well. The only difference is, Uncle Luke put porn onto records in the form of rap - while Red Fox and Richard Pryor did it on comedy records that my mother and father (Who were born in the late 40's and were of the "free love" generation) had, Larry Flint put it into magazines, Hugh Hefner put it into magazines, while Jenna Jamison, Ebony Ayes, John Holmes and Vanessa Del Rio have put it on film. Yes it was and will be explicit there is no denying that - but we as a human culture have been exposed to porn ever since the days the Egyptian and Greek dynasties of the past and to single out certain rappers as "a repugnant, horrible and unpleasant person(s)" is simply not fair. The thing I love the most about hip hop/rap - it comes at you straight, raw, with no chaser - it doesn't pull any punches, and it's not for the weak hearted. It is the rawest form of musical expression out there. Before you call out rap/hip hop - you have to look into the mirror and ask yourself if you are a hypocrit, especially if you are singling out RAP?

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-16T08:40:42-06:00
ID
162554
Comment

Interesting. I would just like for there to be more balance in images in rap music today. During the golden age of Hip-Hop (88-92), you had 2 Live Crew, NWA, But you also had Public enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, X-Clan, Digable Planets, Tribe Called Quest, Guru, etc. and all had relatively equal radio play. Now, it's one type of sound, one type of image, one type of message, and that sound, image, and message plays to the lowest common denominator- sex, misogyny, violence, and greed. There's no depth to most of the rap music that is promoted today. While Queen is correct that there are still rappers who are coming out with a diversity of sound and message, hip-hop has lost its way because it lost its voice. An earlier poster was right, music is rebellious. Music stood as counter-cultural, countering the norms of the day to help establish a new identity for the next generation. In the earlier days of hip-hop, it was definitely in this tradition. Now, it is mainly a cash cow for record corporations and such. Much of the voice of the people has been supplanted because it doesn't sell. An Amazing aspect of this reality is that rappers during the golden age saw this coming, and rapped about it repeatedly. Now that day is here, and I, as an old hip-hop head, am wrought with sadness when I hear hip-hop on the radio. Sure, I could go to a store or peruse underground clubs to find more vital hip-hop voices, but should will the average kid have to do all of that, just to find a voice of this generation?

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-03-16T10:17:55-06:00
ID
162555
Comment

"Now, it's one type of sound, one type of image, one type of message, and that sound, image, and message plays to the lowest common denominator- sex, misogyny, violence, and greed." Heck you just gave a refelction of our society as a whole, in regards to that common denominator - that is what America is focuesd on, that's what sells! lol!!! From politics to what we watch on daily television - (violence) look at MMA Fighting, NFL football, Hockey (take a look Zdeno Chara checking Max Pacioretty into the boards a couple of weeks ago), religious zeolts and terrorism, sex and misogyny, heck you got women hating and fighting amongst themselves, sleeping with different kinds of men on Desperate Housewives, Housewives of Beverly Hills, Housewives of New York, Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, (Sex) MTV's the Real World and other reality shows, how many politicians have we witnessed and their sexual scandals, and speaking on greed!? Can we say Enron, Haliburton, WorldCom, and last but not least Bernie Madoff. But you got to think - Rap speaks on whats currently happening, rap moves with the trends of the time - it has been like that since day one. Just like rock has moved from its early stages, to punk rock, to metal, to grunge, etc. etc. etc. Please - before any of you start trying to snatch my head off, I'm not saying sex, misogyny, violence, and greed are a good thing? I just feel rappers are singled and held to another level of accountability, simply because they are - predominantly - young black males making a boat load of money, flaunting their success, and it appears that they do not work hard to get it - so people "hate" on them. When in actuality, the very successful ones, are some of the brightest entrepenaurs out there - that work crazy hours to maintain a level of success. We can't keep singling out rap for the message to society or for society's woes. Once again - you have to look into a mirror and ask the question, especially if you hate hip-hop and the current state of hip-shop, as a society where did we lose touch, what were we teaching or showing these kids, in order for them to be at this point?

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-16T11:01:01-06:00
ID
162556
Comment

Duan, I agree that those ills are not caused by nor are only found in rap music today. You are right, American society is merely reflected in the rap lyrics, not created by them. My commentary longs for the days when rap not only reflected the ills of society, but actually spoke out in agreement with maintaining a sense of humanity in spite of the social constructs in America that pointed to the obliteration of the human creative and spiritual vitality. Rap can be raw, gritty, and conscientious at the same time, and for a long period, it was (and to some extent it still is, it is just not marketed that way). Now, I wouldn't necessarily say figures like Jay-Z, Lil' Wayne, and Rick Ross are "successful" simply because their minstrelsy sells and they make money. I think we in the black community are passed that point where we have to demean ourselves in order to make the mainstream society comfortable with our art. Those rappers are mostly exploiting the art form by presenting the images they present. I am not saying these people aren't talented; they just need to be more courageous in the creation of their art. They may do more harm in their art than good in their example. Someone asked the question at a conference on hip-hop a few years ago that I think is appropriate here. While someone commented on the good that P.Diddy Combs does through his "Daddy's House" charity, it was noted that would you rather have P.Diddy put out "10 crack commandments" By Biggie or "How Many Licks" by Lil' Kim and make enough money to send 40 kids to college through Daddy's house or not have him put out those songs? Sure, rap music has made a lot of inner city kids rich and taught them many aspects of business and enterprise, but at what cost? I am not singling out rappers at the expense of anything else; I am proposing a higher standard for rap, considering its roots and potential as a voice of the oppressed and a vehicle for true social change.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-03-16T13:03:08-06:00
ID
162558
Comment

First my condolences to the family of the late Nate Dogg, who passed yesterday or today. He was one of those rappers who could do what I accuse most of them of not being able to do - sing or sang as we call it in my old neighborhood. His melodic voice made many records sound so tintilating no matter the subject matter. Duan, you're a true no limit soldier and I congratulate you on that. I took your advise and looked in the mirrow which made me realize I couldn't stand Sly and the Family Stone, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Rick James, and absolutely no rockers or rock musicians. Furthermore, I considered the folks who did like them as missing good sense. My taste expanded as I aged but I still shun and abhor that I think is injurious or has no redeeming values. This is for me personally and I'm not telling others to agree with me necessarily. I have a problem with anything that impacts or controls marginal people walking a tight rope with little room for error or deviation. Poor folks and minorities have always been in this tenuous position and won't escape unless they act and be exceptional. The telling and funny thing about rappers and their supporters is all they can do is get mad and make excuses for their behavior. I don't know any who can tell us how to improve rap or who can intelligently address the concerns Blackwatch raised. They do know how to cuss me out, drink 40 ounces, hit the weed and play that loud and repugnant music old folks like me don't want to hear.

Author
Walt
Date
2011-03-16T16:49:30-06:00
ID
162562
Comment

I guess it all comes down to the rap I've heard is foul, offensive, and even threatening to me. But according to them, this is are was the life they lead and the environment they grew up in. That being the case I can't expect them to write songs about growing up in middle class white America. Someone above compared rap to ZZ Top and a few others and I take exception with that. While their songs were sexual in nature in some cases they didn't say Mother f*****, b*tch, n****r, and take pride in killing like so many rap songs do. I know they don't all do that but some, alot of them do and that's what gave rap a bad name. I've never understood why if I were to say the word n****r outloud, at the very least I would become a social pariah and would have so much hatred directed at me. Yet alot of rap song use the word like a comma as do alot of black people. I guess I'm too naive to understand why one is socially acceptable while the other is or used to be the worst thing you could do. I have no problem with a little rebellion until it starts becoming verbally offensive to me nor do I want my children exposed to that. Free speech be in my opinion applies to different points of view not offensive language. and ZZ Top didn't do that. I don't think that's an unfair statement to make but I'll bet someone will

Author
Alex0393
Date
2011-03-16T17:35:03-06:00
ID
162568
Comment

"The telling and funny thing about rappers and their supporters is all they can do is get mad and make excuses for their behavior. I don't know any who can tell us how to improve rap or who can intelligently address the concerns Blackwatch raised. They do know how to cuss me out, drink 40 ounces, hit the weed and play that loud and repugnant music old folks like me don't want to hear." Walt - I appreciate the good words, but I think you should listen to Funkadelic's "Cosmic Slop (LIVE)", I call it the blackman's Free Bird - listen to it on some good speakers, some JBL studio monitors especially - before you totally do away with them, lol!!! Some people like Salvatore Dali and some people like Michael Angelo, some people like Annie Lee and some people like Ernie Barnes? Some people like X-Clan and some people like Insane Clown Possee? Their all artist in the own right. I think you guys make some good points, but we can't as a society conform a art form, and hip hop is a art form - that is still morphing and changing, from the commercial - to the abstract. Just something to think about?

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-17T09:27:58-06:00
ID
162570
Comment

"I have no problem with a little rebellion until it starts becoming verbally offensive to me ......Free speech be in my opinion applies to different points of view not offensive language. and ZZ Top didn't do that. and ZZ Top didn't do that!?, here's one of their greatest hits - it's called "Gun Love" She likes to shoot her gun, Shootin' at the target of love. She likes to load her chamber, Hot and tight like a black leather glove. She's a little freak, but she'll take you in. You might be sittin' at the end of a firing pin. Gun love, gun love, gun love, She's a real gun lover, Gun love, gun love, gun love, She's a real gun lover tonight. She's so particular, she likes a smith and wesson or colt. But she'll give you some lovin' as long as she's cockin' the bolt. Better hold on when she's up to her tricks Playin' russian roulette but she'll load all six. Gun love, gun love, gun love, She's a real gun lover, Gun love, (gun love) gun love, (gun love) gun love, She's a real gun lover tonight. She likes the punch deep down in her pistolero. Running with the wild bunch, makin' like a robert dinero. She's kinda shy but make no mistake, She'll shoot you full of love till your love bone aches. Gun love, gun love, gun love, She's a real gun lover, Gun love, (gun love) gun love, gun love, She's a real gun lover tonight. She's a real gun lover. She's a real gun lover tonight. Ha! Their using a gun as a metaphor for sex with a woman! Look their is no sin, less than or greater than the other! Look in the mirror's - get the bibles and start confessing, PERIOD!

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-17T10:53:55-06:00
ID
162579
Comment

I may get flamed for this but Duan, I agree that today’s “pop-rap” is “art” and Lil’ Wayne and his ilk have every right to produce, promote, and sell it to anyone willing to buy. I disagree though that art couldn’t be monitored, censured, or “conformed” as you say. Communities and individuals have every right to critique, censure, or ignore any art that is published. There is a reason why there is a ratings system for movies, laws against distributing porn to minors, and different arts endowments fund or defund different works. That is because art is critiqued all the time, and held to certain community standards for decency and obscenity. What I am proposing is a “black arts” aesthetic for Hip-hop culture in general and rap music in particular. What this will do is not prohibit anyone form rapping about anything, but it will hold rappers accountable to the broader aims of collective empowerment and responsibility. I say this is necessary, considering the widespread occurrences of weakened family structures and neighborhoods in the black community. For instance, can a single mother of 3 boys afford for her sons to be influenced more by Ric Ross and Lil’ Wayne than his science teacher, youth pastor, or little league coach? Sure, the rappers can fall back on the notions of artistic freedom and such, but their artistic freedom shouldn’t trump that mother's right to try and prevent the perversion of her young boys' perspectives about sexuality, commerce, and self-worth. If the music does this, then we in the community have a right to boycott it, ban it from our local community stores and media outlets, and demand that if they these artists want our “support”, they need to produce more responsible art for our young people to consume, or at least stop marketing it to young people. Wal-Mart removed Micheal Jackson's song "They don't Really Care About Us" from its shelves because of out cries from the Jewish community about a percieved slur in a lyric of the song. Where is the outrage from the black community about songs like "Lollipop" and "Go Hard in the Paint"? Again, this is not to prohibit rappers from doing whatever they want to do, but it notes that our community needs to be more discriminating in what we embrace. Call it hatin’, fascist, or whatever, but there are enough challenges that we confront politically, economically, and socially that we cannot control, why should we allow this issue to further complicate things? So a few greedy hoods can get rich enough to by diamonds to keep in ice trays in a deep freezer (the CEO of Cash Money Records-Lil’ Wayne’s label- actually does this)? What Alice Cooper, ZZ Top or anybody else does is their business. But, however the rappers want to create their art, (most of these “artists” would stop rapping tomorrow if they couldn’t sell anything) they need to be brave enough, and able, to defend their art before a black arts aesthetic.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-03-17T13:43:40-06:00
ID
162594
Comment

Ha! Their using a gun as a metaphor for sex with a woman! Yes and "gun" isn't an offensive word to me metaphor or not. I don't feel a need to turn the radio off when the word "gun" is used. If you read what I wrote you'd notice I acknowledged the sexual content of their songs and that wasn't the problem. My problem was the actual use of the language that at times can be inappropriate and offensive to me. "Me" being the key word there. As for looking in the mirror with a Bible and confessing...I'm sure there's a point somewhere but it escapes me.

Author
Alex0393
Date
2011-03-18T14:16:31-06:00
ID
162598
Comment

@ blackwatch - solid points, not too much I can disagree with you over, on your last post, the only thing I can say we don't see eye to eye on, is censorship. I agree wtih label, protest, ignore, rate, do what you feel, censor artistic expression, you might as well re-establish the Un-American Activities Committee if you want to go that route. I feel you on a lot of your points @ Alex0393 - basically your saying, indirect offensive is fine and direct offensive is bad? The "Look in the mirror - get the bibles - start confessing" - was a pot shot at the hypocrisy of people and their respective musical taste. You jumped into this conversation, I didn't call and ask you? I'm just calling you on what you posted - I understand how "YOU" feel, but to come on here and say I did take them (your children) to see Kid Rock the other night and thoroughly enjoyed it. He's a mixture of rap, rock and country if you can believe that then you followed with this comment after that, "I guess it all comes down to the rap I've heard is foul, offensive, and even threatening to me........While their songs were sexual in nature in some cases they didn't say Mother f*****, b*tch, n****r, and take pride in killing like so many rap songs do. I know they don't all do that but some, alot of them do and that's what gave rap a bad name. Let's take a song by the ARTIST, in which, you took your own children to see - let's look at the song B*lls in your mouth? "Cruisin' thru town in my jacked up truck eyes open cuz I'm scopin' for a big butt slut One that I can take straight back to my house and have her suck my d*ck and put my balls in her mouth Now get, get with it looked across the street I seen a slimmy in a skirt boppin to the beat So I capped up my 40 threw it under the seat rolled up on the freak and I started to speak But before I could talk she go grabbed my d*ick licked her lips and started talkin that porno sh*t She said look here I know you're Kid Rock then whispered in my ear "I wanna swallow your c*ck" Well blow me up and then blow me down cuz I think i just found the biggest freak in town And now I can't wait to get her back to my house set her down on her knees and put my b*lls in her mouth but since you took your kids to see him, obviously that's not offensive? Oh yeah - let's look at Trucker Anthem "Straight outta the sticks of Romeo Michigan The early morning stoned motherfucking pimp of the God damn nation Ye haw motherf*ckers lets rock With the Kid, that's all, ya dig, ya dont stop Got rifs to rock, brought boones to slam Now who's the man? Kid Rock God damn Back on the scene like a fiend for beats Aint slept in weeks Got too many freaks Seen too many geeks Try to rock the rap, so I'm back with heat To unseat the wack I'ma unpack, and set up shop I'ma step back and watch you rock I'ma rock track, so stop the pop Then I'ma master blastin through the aftershock I got, dug ditches to burry you b*tches Who roll the flow and wanna stop the show So I'ma roll and flow another encore seven From north of Detroit, way south of Heaven Heaven, heaven, heaven Yeah Turn it up, turn it up turn it up Ughh Come onnnnn Kid Rock motherfucker with the TBT Rollin' through your city like the General Lee You wanna f*ck with me? Don't test the odds Cause your arms are too short to box with God But if ya, send me your address, I'll swing by Call up your friends, I'll get your whole fuckin' crew high Say bye, bye, bye to the wack And let it be known Kid Rock is back Yeahhh rollin' with the TBT Were gonna rock the house for my man Joe C. Yeahh, we wanna start this show, come on Come on, yeah Just think you took your kids to see Kid Rock, didn't find any of his music offensive? I'm through with this subject, because all we're doing is comparing apples and oranges, people will give some a pass and others? Clearly not! It's been real.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-18T15:24:18-06:00
ID
162614
Comment

Folks, not another comment containing a personal insult will be opened. Please talk about the topic, not each other. Thanks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-21T08:51:07-06:00
ID
162616
Comment

I think there will always be those who say NO to hip hop; just as many will say no to rock/metal. There will always be good rappers and bad rappers....Nate Dogg by the way was hiphoptic but he was not a "rapper". RIP True, the "bad" rappers are more popular than the positive rappers. However, who's to blame for that? The rappers themselves or the consumers who make the artist popular? Just as with any profession, you are only successful if there is a demand for your product. The bad rappers obviously have an audience. So let's put the blame where it belongs -- if infact there is someone to blame. Society produces artists and those who purchase their music. So, if these kids now-a-days who buy the albums had enough value within themselves to NOT listen to or purchase the music from "bad rappers" they would not exist. There is a reason why all the positive rappers are underground. Because the folks who buy records don't want to hear positive messages. Who's fault is that? Where are they to learn values and morals that teach that being called a B**ch is wrong; glorifying gun use; selling drugs etc... isn't positive? Who's responsibility is it to get the buying public to be more positive and upstanding? Music is rebellious and it always has been. Here's what needs to happen: Folks who have no appreciation for rap music - good or bad - should just accept that it is still going to happen and leave it alone. Because rap is an art; Hip Hop it is a CULTURE. So, if you insult the art, you are insulting the culture. No one likes being insulted. Whether you have a good point or not, it won't be heard anyway if you come off as if you hate everything that rap is because WE ARE RAP!!!!!!!!!!! Now, I have never liked or listened to metal before because it seemed weird to me...much like I assume many feel about rap who came from the era of heart and soul sangin'. Well this weekend I was at a show and I saw a metal band and they were AWESOME. I would love to tell yall their name but I don't want to butcher it so all I'll say is that the name of this band contained the word Bullet. White band, not a black person in it. If someone knows who they were please share because they were really good. It took me two seconds into the first song to realize that I am no longer a metalhater....only because I gave it a chance. doens't mean I'm flying out to purchase metal albums, but I certainly would buy the one from the band I heard Saturday night.

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-03-21T09:32:46-06:00
ID
162620
Comment

I doubt the young ladies were lying. If there portrayal of the alleged events seemed false, I doubt the young man would have been inspired to write about it. Rap is no more offensive than any other form of art. When I was a high school student, we had a science teacher who was notorious fore sexual harassment: he had harassed my sister when she was in high school in 1987, and was still being an old lecher when I was in high school in 2004! Shakespeare's plays were full of lasciviousness and full of dirty jokes, double entendres, violence (swordfights and hangings, anyone?) and curses. We just don't speak King's English anymore, so all that vice sounds archaic and flowery. Do you know how many people got murdered, raped, stabbed, hung, crushed, poisoned, robbed, kidnapped, and suffocated in the Greek mythological epics? In the BIBLE? Leave this man alone. He's allowed to write songs about injustice as he sees fit. He's a grown citizen.

Author
scarlette
Date
2011-03-21T10:33:40-06:00
ID
162622
Comment

Thank you Queen and thank and god bless you too Scarlett

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-21T11:03:02-06:00
ID
162623
Comment

Queen, I see where you are coming from, but I disagree that the issue with the popularity of “bad rappers”, as you put it, is simply an issue of supply and demand. I will say that marketing does play a part in what songs are “demanded” by the public. I, for one, am willing to purchase new music, but I am not going to purchase something simply because it’s new. It has to appeal to my music sensibilities, like Lauryn Hill, Tribe Called Quest, Digable planets, and X-Clan did in the 90’s. There is an audience out there of “30 somethings” like me, who are willing and able to purchase music. It just requires more out of both the rappers and the record companies to create music that appeals to us. And I believe that determines the dearth of “positive” rap on the radio more than anything. The music business is notorious for speculating the market (ever heard of “payola”?).If new music that has substance is never played on the radio, then who will hear it? If the only music you hear was filled with self degradation, misogyny, violence and crass materialism, when would you as a young person ever get the chance to reject it or be more discriminating? This is why I say we in the community need to hold media more accountable for the images portrayed. Also, it’s why I say artists that take advantage of this reality are not courageous in their art. Lauryn Hill said it best “If music is supposed to inspire, then how come we ain’t getting’ no higher?” I say, we ain’t getting’ higher because there is no community standard for the artistry of music. Music business is about business only now, not music. There was a time when record companies could honestly say they were trying to market talent and craft to an audience willing to pay. Now, just like with faulty investment tools on Wall St., music is mainly a cash cow, forced upon the public to earn a profit, and all they are forcing is a marketing ploy or formulaic image (if I hear another rap song auto-tuned, I may throw my radio out of my car), not artistry, creativity, craft and social critique. Can we blame “society” from creating an audience that wants these images? No more than we can blame marketing and corporate power in generating a social media environment that leaves little for the minds of teens to discriminate from. Also, we cannot underestimate that as much as 75% of these albums are purchased by sub-urban (mostly white) teens who’s so called “rebellious nature” is piqued by urban nihilism and self-destructive narratives of the “exotic” black body and personhood. There is, in a since, history repeating itself with the popularity of these “artists” and the minstrel images of Man-Tan, Step-n –Fetchit, and Amos-N-Andy.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-03-21T11:35:59-06:00
ID
162625
Comment

Duan let me address your letter one point at a time. Number one I guess it's safe to say that I am not alone in saying that indirect offensive language such as "gun" is not nearly as offensive to me in certain situations as direct offensive language such as mother f**ker. That should be understandable to anyone. Second, I have tried but I have failed at understanding how anyone's personal taste in music can be hypocritical. Either you like something or you don't so I'm not sure where you're going with that but I am sure you don't know. If I like the song and I know what's coming I may still find some of the words offensive but tolerable. I like Kid Rock, I can relate to Kid Rock, I grew up in the same environment alot, not all mind you, but alot of his songs tell about. People identify with music and it creates a personal taste in music. Now, let's take TI for instance. I didn't grow up in the environment he did so therefore I have a hard time understanding or relating to his music and I don't really have a desire to listen to it. But there are millions of people who did and who do. I cannot recall questioning anyone on here's sanity or taste in music that varied from mine. I simply stated what I liked. Now let's break for a question. Why was my personal taste in music so important to you that you would not only research Kid Rock and his lyrics, but you would also go to the trouble to print them? That baffles me. Actually this whole thing does but that in particular. I cannot recall you and I having any sort of disagreement but maybe I missed it. Back to the points. You stated that I jumped into this conversation you didn't call me. Not sure what that meant but I know damn well I never once said "hey duan! Why don't you give me your opinion on my post?" I don't know you and again, I'm pretty sure I didn't attack anyone including your personal taste in music. Last, at the end you again used the word hypocricy in stating that I will give some music a pass on offensive lyrics and not others. I'm not sure where you're going with that one either and if you'd claify it then I'll respond. ... Why do you like some songs and don't want to listen to others? I just don't question others taste and as such see no reason to find out what it is. I have friends that listen to country music. Most of the free world does but to me it's the white man's shame. To me, being the key phrase. Their listening to it in no way alters the present course of my life so I allow them to continue without doing what you did to me. To sum it up Duan, I could have covered this whole thing in about two sentences but Donna's understandable threat to not print any more personal insults prevented me from being able to be so simple. You on the other hand had the luxury of using what I see as somewhat personal attacks and I still find that to be confusing. But I will say there is no music as offensive to me as your questioning my taste in it is. Explain those things I pointed out and I'll get back with your response.

Author
Alex0393
Date
2011-03-21T12:15:02-06:00
ID
162627
Comment

Well Blackwatch....good luck trying to get rappers to commit to putting out music that doesn't grasp the kids who are buying way more cd's that 30 something year old adults. It's not ideal, but it is what it is. I don't knock anyone for what they listen to. All I can do is control what happens in my household. My stepson listens to stuff that could make me throw up. But he's fortunate enough to have musical scholars around him (HA!) to teach him what good music is and what's garbage. That doesn't mean that he still doesn't like what I consider to be garbage. LOL!!! Point being, I get what you're saying and in a perfect world it would be wonderful to see artists being responsible about wht they put out. it would be great if the kids weren't all looking up to ridiculous acts like WakaFlacka (ugh!) and others of the like. But they are and as long as they are....the Waka's will continue to blow-up-shuate!!!!

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-03-21T12:43:57-06:00
ID
162629
Comment

Interesting discussion. This reminds me of the debate between journalists/editors who defend putting mindless crap out there, blaming it all on it being "what the public wants." I see that as a cop-out argument -- and the truth is that the public will indeed support substantive media. Likewise, Blackwatch's argument that the listening public will support higher forms of hip-hop is very compelling. I hope and believe he is right.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2011-03-21T13:00:40-06:00
ID
162631
Comment

Alex you are right, I don't know you and you don't know me But you wrote this very same post and i qoute you, "I guess it all comes down to the rap I've heard is foul, offensive, and even threatening to me........While their songs were sexual (some rock artists) in nature in some cases they didn't say Mother f*****, b*tch, n****r, and take pride in killing like so many rap songs do. I know they don't all do that but some, alot of them do and that's what gave rap a bad name." But you said you went to a Kid Rock concert, who is a artist that uses the same language as a lil wayne or any other rapper you probably don't care for? I'm not saying you have to like rap, but to come on a thread and basically say, they (rappers) use words like "b*tch, m*therfucker, and n*gger" and you find that offensive - but yet turn around and go to a Kid Rock concert and found it enjoyable is puzzling to me? How's Kid Rock saying b*tch any less offensive than Lil Wayne? I put his (Kid Rock) lyrics up there for you to see. Kid Rock is, was, and not any different than any other rappers that uses the very same kinds of lyrics or language. Queen said it best, I took your post as an attack, albeit it wasn't a direct personal attack towards me, but it was an attack of something that I do care about. I'm grounded in hip hop and when people say they find it offensive, I expect them to look into the mirror and do a self evaluation. So in regards to hypocrisy - how can you say something is offensive by one group, but another group who does the exact same thing is thoroughly enjoyable? You made a good point, with generational taste in music, with your relationship between yourself and your father and the Led Zepplin spin, but when you spoke of the language in rap, then added your like for Kid Rock - I found that to be hypocritical, not in taste - but in regards to the musical content.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2011-03-21T13:18:49-06:00
ID
162632
Comment

"Well Blackwatch....good luck trying to get rappers to commit to putting out music that doesn't grasp the kids who are buying way more cd's that 30 something year old adults." That's precisely the logic that the record execs use, and it is also the reason why I say it is imperative to hold rappers and rap music business to a higher standard. We as a community lose too much in this matter to simply let this go as a matter of "youthful rebelliousness" when it is clearly more complicated and nefarious than that. Also, I do not think it is asking too much of rappers to actually have meaningful messages and images in their rap songs. Many rappers would probably prefer to have more. In many instances, record execs purposefully want to dumb down the message, not necessarily to appeal to black youth, but so that it is not as critical of the status quo social structure so as to not offend many in its primary market, sub-urban teens who have aspirations to “make it” in the American corporate climate. This is why someone like Jay-Z is appealing to this demographic. Here is a big lipped, big nosed figure who raps about how hard it was in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Yet, his critique is to simply say “Jigga What, Jigga Who” (sounds awfully close to “Jigga-Boo”) and talk about how excessive he lives now, that people (mostly white teens) buy his stories of grit and “grind” in the streets. He does this by ignoring any systemic, historical, social, or political critiques in his records, instead banking on his considerable skills at wordplay to say the same things over and over again, being careful to delight his audience with clever “metaphors” coding nothing but nihilism and machismo posturing, rather than social critique. This is very similar to the urban “zip-coon” image made popular in the period after the Harlem Renaissance. I still say there is an audience of “30 somethings” that will support rap music. It just takes a record company with the courage to invest in a serious rapper, who has skills and intelligence. A rapper like that will not sell 5 million perhaps, but neither did Tribe, Digable Planets, nor Rakim. But I challenge you to find a true hip-hop head in their 30’s who don’t have those artists in their collection.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2011-03-21T13:39:19-06:00
ID
162633
Comment

I still say there is an audience of “30 somethings” that will support rap music. It just takes a record company with the courage to invest in a serious rapper, who has skills and intelligence.<<<<

Author
Queen601
Date
2011-03-21T13:43:49-06:00

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