Whether it is the cartoon Beavis and Butthead, thecontroversial television drama NYPD Blue or rap recording artists, someonealways seems to arguing about their negative effects on society and the need forgovernment regulation. Being a fan of rap, I am particularly interested inissues effecting regulation of the recording industry and rap artists. Popular”gangsta rappers” include Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dog, Tupac Shakur, IceCube, and Ice Tea.
Many are outraged at the explicit lyrics of the songs and thelifestyles of these artists. Snoop Doggy Dog and Tupac Shakur are two of themost publicized “gansta rappers” whose songs contain explicit lyricsand who have been indicted for criminal activities. Snoop Doggy dog is a nativeof Long Beach, California. His mother named him Snoopy because of his long faceand droopy ears.
Growing up, Snoop was a member of the Golgotha Trinity Baptistyouth choir and an excellent basketball player. However , shortly after hisgraduation from high school, he landed in jail for possession of cocaine. Recently Snoop was arrested for murder. On August twenty- fifth Snoop wasdriving his late model Jeep in Palms, California.
He met up with Philip Woldemariam, who according to Snoop’s attorney, had a long history of threatening Snoop. Snoop’s bodyguard shot Woldermariam twice in the back, killing him. On Decembereighth, Snoop was arraigned for murder, but later found innocent. Many of thelyrics i n Snoop’s songs degrade women, encourage the use of marijuana andglorify violence against authority.
Another publicized case involves rapperTupac Shakur. Many know him for his starring role in the movie “PoeticJustice” with Janet Jackson. Tupac Shakur’s song “Keep Ya HeadUp” contains such lyrics as “I wonder why we take from our women Whywe rape our women Do we hate our women? I think it’s time we care for our womenTime to heal our women. ” Despite the lyrics encouraging men to respectwomen, Shakur was recently arrested for sexually abusing a woman in a midtownhotel. This arrest came two weeks after Shakur was arrested for allegedlyshooting two off duty police officers after a traff ic dispute in Atlanta.
Proponents of rap feel that all rappers are protected under the first amendment. They also feel that rap is a cultural art form, reflecting ghetto life and thatcriticism of rap is another form of racism. One of the men who has beeninfluential in speaking out against “gangsta rap”, its explicit lyricsand unworthy role models is the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson states,”Anyone, white or black, who makes money calling our women bitches and our peopleniggers will have to face the wrath of our indignation. ” The ReverendCalvin Butts, the minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, has alsomounted a crusade against explicit music. Last summer he held a rally at whichhe ran over offending tapes and CDs with a steamrolle r.
The vice- president ofthe United States wife, Tipper Gore, has launched her own crusade. In her book,Raising PG Kids in an X-rated Society , she takes the music industry to task forglamorizing sex and violence in material targeted to kids. She has encouragedrecord companies to label all albums and tapes that have sexually explicitlyrics. Also, radio stations such a KACE-FM in Los Angeles are adopting policiesto ban all songs that degrade women or promote drugs and violence.
To determinethe views of students here on the need for censorship of the recording industry,I conducted a survey which posed the following questions: 1. Do you listen toRap music? Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that they listened toRap music on a regular basis. 2. Do you own any Rap CDs or tapes with explicitlyrics? Forty percent of those surveyed indicated that thy did.
3. Do you thinkRap lyrics are a bad influence on society? Seventy-five percent believed thatthe lyrics had a negative influence on society. 4. Do you think that thegovernment should censor Rap recordings? Only five percent of the respondentsbelieved it was the government’s responsibity to censor Rap. One thing is clearand that is that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. In myopinion, the worst solution would be to allow the government to legislate whatcan be written, what TV shows can be aired and what music can be produced.
Ibelieve the consumers and producers should be charged with the ultimateresponsibility of censorship. Consumers are free to boycott literature, recordsand programs that they deem unacceptable and producers will be quick to respondwhen profits are diminished.