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Volume 68, Issue 4, Thursday, August 29, 2002

Opinion

Rap fans desire a more positive product

Greg Jones
Opinion Columnist

In the early stage of rap music before the bling bling era, rap music was the CNN for poor and working-class blacks in America.

Songs such as "The Message" and "Fight the Power" raised the conscience levels of people and the need for social change in America.

Then, in the early 1990s, greedy, out-of-touch record executives took control of the art form and made materialism the main priority, over the
continued disenfranchisement of blacks, latinos and poor whites.

I believe the billion-dollar rap industry, which has a great influence on America culture, needs to take a turn for the better by going back to its
roots.

Record executives use rap artists for major profits at the expense of the African-American poor and working-class people that actually
experience what these rappers are rapping about.

Many people wonder why anyone should make a big deal out of negative rap music, because they believe it is only entertainment.

Most fans know many of the artists such as Dr. Dre and Jay Z actually don't perform many of the activities they claim.

I believe this ideology is wrong and lacks serious thought. The reason we listen to music is because it makes us feel emotions such as joy,
sadness, motivation or even relaxation.

In other words, it affects the soul of an individual. The imbalance in rap music is consistently reflected on the radio and shown on the video
programs such as Rap City. The images presented are not an actual account of how blacks are living as a whole.

As a kid growing up on the West side of Chicago I saw many images I thought were good because I saw them over and over again.

For example, I thought gang banging was good because it was around me. The same concept applies to music.

Blacks in America have many concerns such as police brutality, entrepreneurship, reparations, election reform, employment, quality health care
and quality education.

This is what the art form needs to reflect instead of promoting materialism and violence.

Black music has historically always voiced the concerns of issues in America that affect their way of living.

Instead, rappers and even some r&b and rock artists admit to committing crimes consistently on records, thus promoting some of the worst
elements our society has to offer. Songs such as "Hood Rich" or "My Neck/My Back" have become the norm.

Record Executives such as Jimmy Iovine, LA Reid, Tommy Mottola, Andrew Herrera, Bryan Turner, Russell Simmons, Tony Brown and Ted
Fields don't want positive images seen or heard, because it will interfere with the millions they make off young, uneducated and misled black
rappers from the inner cities of America.

Female rapper Foxy Brown and former rapper Mase both have gone on record saying they portrayed negative images on albums and videos
because the record executives forced them to do so in order to sell more records. This is the norm also for the entire music industry. Just look at
Britney Spears.

What can cure the problems of negative images of Black America presented in rap and other forms of music?

Music fans of all backgrounds must e-mail and write letters to the major record company executives and voice their concerns. Also don't buy the
music when you hear songs such as "Big Pimpin'."

Music fans can turn off the television and the radio when these images are displayed. Music listeners must e-mail and write the executives of
the products that pay for advertising space on rap shows and in magazines such as Vibe and The Source.

If companies such as the Coca-Cola Corporation do not take the concerns seriously, then music fans must stop buying their products.

Positive artists such as Common, Black Star, Dead Pres., KRS1, Mos Def, Gang Star, Goodie Mob, Pharoahe Monch and The Roots must get
more requests on the radio and rap video programs.

The most important aspect is to shift the focus from the rap artist and put the heat on the record executives who run the major distributors such
as Universal and AOL/Time Warner.

The executives are responsible for what is seen and heard, not the artist. So the next time you have issues with a song such as "Money, Cash,
Hoes," send Russell Simmons an email, or just don't buy the album.

Jones, a senior communication major, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.


Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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