Words by Boney Starks
For a long while, hip-hop has been the scapegoat for many of America’s problems. The so-called hip-hop “community” (whether or not it’s actually a community is debatable) has been blamed for the LA Riots, women being called out of their names, and gun violence in the United States. One of the more recent detractors of hip-hop music is FOX News Anchor Bill O’Reilly, whose show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” has created more than its share of controversial issues and arguments since its inception in 1996. Major artists such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and more recently, Nas, have all raised Mr. O’Reilly’s ire in the past few years.
While I don’t agree with O’Reilly’s style of taking a shot in the dark and generalizing the overall art of rap music, I do realize that most rappers are not eloquent enough to defend themselves in a manner in which O’Reilly probably sees fit. And therein lies the problem:
Until artists and other representatives of the “hip-hop community” begin to defend themselves and their actions with level heads and with intelligent responses, they will continue to be chastised by people that deem their actions morally/socially irreverent.
Take Ludacris, for instance, the Atlanta-based hip hop icon whose 2002 Pepsi Cola campaign was pulled after O’Reilly called for a boycott of the brand.
“I’m calling for all responsible americans to fight back and punish pepsi for using a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor and our society. Then he says, “I’m calling for all americans to say, hey, pepsi, i’m not drinking your stuff.”
Ludacris’ response was in “Number One Spot” off of his 2004 release, The Red Light District, in which he says in one bar:
“Respected highly, Hi Mr. O’Reilly
Hope all is well, kiss the plantiff and the wifey”
Now while most consumers of hip-hop saw this subtle jab at O’Reilly’s sexual harassment case by Ludacris as a feasable diss, to O’Reilly, it probably didn’t register. Why? Because O’Reilly isn’t a rapper, and he probably wouldn’t be checking for a Ludacris record anyway.
This brings me to my next issue: Snoop Dogg and his ongoing feud with the TV anchor. In a Dutch television show, Snoop had some choice words for O’Reilly, countered by O’Reilly’s witty response.(Video Clip)
You can also see what rapper Cam’Ron and former Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash went through when O’Reilly mediated a discussion between them and a Philadelphia education official.
I think what rappers need to realize is that their street attitude and responses to O’Reilly’s claims only add fuel to the fire. They need to sit back and either take the heat, or learn how to defend themselves in a manner in which O’Reilly and other critics of hip-hop music can respect and understand â€“ not to make a diss record and talk about how they can come back to their hoods and cause raucous. That’s not going to happen. O’Reilly will be sitting in his comfy studio in Los Angeles and continue to berate people and talk out of the side of his mouth, and will continue to make allegations and stir up controversy.
Nas is O’Reilly’s most recent target, but we have yet to hear what Nas has to say about O’Reilly’s disapproval of his performance at Virginia Tech on September 6. O’Reilly went so far as calling the booking of Nas, “insulting to the murder victims of Virginia Techâ€¦” (Video Clip)
So, if any artists are reading this, please do your best to defend yourself with spoken words, not rapped lyrics. In the end, the words are ten times more powerful.
-The Black Hey Zeus
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