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March 28, 2014

Why Blame the Rappers When These Guys Run Hip Hop

Monte Lipman
Jimmy Iovine
Doug Morris
Let's re-visit the fact that 2013 marked the first time in Billboard’s 55 year history that there were no Black artists on top of the Hot 100 chart. That's not to say that Black music did not influence the charts (see Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke, and Macklemore) or that Urban/Hip Hop music was not influential or relevant in 2013- it was...its just that African American rappers and singers didn't reach the number one position. 

So who gives the go-ahead to the music that is pumped into the ears of young people via radio, smart phones, downloads and any number of internet platforms anyway? Who's responsible for artists (we use the term lightly) releasing albums, and promoting music that for the most part is harmful. Who's responsible for letting rappers continue to pump out destructive lyrics on songs that no longer reach nation-wide appeal? Who's responsible for an entire generation that knows Hip Hop done by Black artists as only a misogynistic, and gangster-themed music that glorifies drug usage that is day by day evolving into a niche genre? Who will be ultimately responsible when this commercialized form of Hip Hop is relegated to the same status that jazz music is viewed as in the public eye today? (One day it will happen.)

Before us we have Monte Lipman of Universal Music Group, Jimmy Iovine of Interscope, founder of Beats by Dre headphones and Beats Music, and Doug Morris of Sony Music Entertainment and former exec at UMG. The corporate execs named above (and others not mentioned) run the destructive machine that is commonly called Hip Hop. 

Iovine was asked the following question on the PBS program Frontline
To what extent do you executives worry about lyrical content in this suite of offices? Do you see it as your role to worry about where to draw lines, to rein people in? Or are these artists, and your job is simply to present them?

Iovine's answer:
It's probably somewhere in the middle. I think we're doing everything we can. I don't know why records are treated different than movies. I don't know why records are treated different than books. I don't know why an Eminem record is different than a Stephen King movie. So it's hard for me to answer the question when I don't understand the premise of it. I don't see the difference. If I read an Eminem song or a DMX song and I read a Stephen King book, I don't know why there's a difference, why it's treated differently than books and movies. It seems like it is, and I don't really understand it. - -

The only thing that is obvious here is that Iovine understands the number of digits in his bank account. He clearly doesn't understand the life choices people make based on music and the image that music represents. Many would say that radio should take the blame as well. Radio does play a role. A big role, especially so-called urban radio. However young people have access to music in more ways now than they have ever had in the history of music. Radio is just one of the avenues that plays the product. The product right now stinks. 

What is also clear is that White artists are being promoted more heavily to mainstream audiences via radio. This music is being re-packaged as "Hip Hop." What an affront to the founders of Hip Hop in New York City like DJ Kool Herc and Grand Master Flash in the mid 1970's. If you're Black you're a level below. You're told what to rap about. Even if your name is Jay-Z. They tell you that's what sells. Welcome to commercialize Hip Hop 2014. 

RT-TV host Abby Martin talks to Paul Porter and Sebastien Elkouby (the author of the satirical letter 'Notice to Black Artists') from RapRehab.com, on the current state of corporately controlled hip hop and rap.

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