Hip-Hop Fridays: Should Eminem (And All Of Us) Apologize To Black Women? by Davey D.
I had an opportunity to peep the song by Eminem in which he makes some extremely disparaging remarks about Black women. To say the least what he said, whether he was 16, which it sounds like or whether he was 21 as the Source Magazine claims, is indefensible. He should own up to it and apologize.
He should do it, not because Dave Mays, Benzino and The Source are pressuring him. He shouldn't apologize because of all the negative publicity that may erode some of his fan base and market share. He shouldn't apologize because Interscope Records, XXL, Rollingstone, Radio and video outlets that play his music, Dr Dre and any other person or institution financially connected to Em will be questioned about their judgment or lack thereof. He should apologize because what he said was offensive and hurtful.
And while, I understand, he may have been hurting himself when he made his songs, he still should apologize. As far as I'm concerned Black women deserve to hear that. If Em does do that and he is as sincere and forthcoming with his feelings as he is in his other songs, he will be several steps ahead of a whole lot of people who dis Black women and support the dissing of Black women everyday.
For example, notice, how MTV never apologized for inviting Snoop Dogg to come on their awards show holding sistas strapped to dog leashes. That image was shown all over the world. Nor did MTV apologize for 50 Cent coming on stage with a cadre of real life pimps-which was also shown around the world. Notice how BET never apologize for that offensive stretypical cartoon Cita? Has Bob Johnson ever apologized for the hours of videos depicting gyrating women who get beer poured on them in videos.
To my knowledge no major radio conglomerate - from Clear Channel to Radio One has gone on record to publicly apologize for the hours upon hours of music they play that regularly degrade Black women. The word 'Ho' and 'Bitch' which was once peeped out from songs is heard so much that it is now left in for all to hear on the record labels official 'radio edits'.
To my knowledge no major radio outlet or video outlet for that matter has apologized for the hours upon hours of airtime they have granted to artists who have inflicted physical abuse upon Black women. We still hear R. Kelly songs, Ike Turner is lauded as a musical genius, and Rick James is a staple on your oldies station. Dr Dre is a Hip Hop icon.
Here in Cali, Sugar Free who candidly admits to his pimping background and makes no bones about returning to the game if need be gets played all the time. Alongside Sugar Free are scores of wanna be pimps ranging from Nick Cannon to Nelly. Pimping sistas is big business in the music biz nowadays and I'm not quite sure which is more offensive, Eminem's racist song or the predominantly white media executives who give the final green light as to what gets played and doesn't get played to the masses via mainstream media outlets.
All I know is that not only is anyone NOT apologizing to sistas, very few are making a concerted effort to curtail this bad behavior or even offer a balanced perspective. I'm still running into artists who are frustrated because their music is being pushed to the side by non Black program and music directors as well as a few Black folks who brought into the nonsense that in order to be hip and happening in 2003, you have to be gully and keep your music pimpish. I say we use this situation involving Eminem to end the daily barage of offensive material depicting Black women.
I'm saying all this because I think it's important that we don't loose sight of the bigger picture. Let's not get sidetracked by a discussion around Eminem who basically said what Black artist say everyday in their music. 'Black women are 'whores', 'gold diggers', 'bitches' and every other negative stereotype. Let's focus on those powerful folks behind the scenes who call the shots. These are the same media folks who allow a two hour discussion about Eminem, complete with interviews from the Source owners Dave Mays and Benzino and an airing of the song during morning and evening drive time, but will shut the discussion down when the topic turns to questioning are involvement in the war, the patriotic act, police brutality or the difference in treatment and amount of attention paid to white 'war hero' Jessica Lynch and Black 'war hero' Soshana Johnson. Heck radio stations in LA that are knee deep in the discussion about Eminem couldn't hold equally compelling discussions when Daz, WC, RBX and numerous other 'gangsta' rappers came together to do an anti-war song. In fact some stations like KKBT instructed their listeners to remove the song from the airwaves.
As we think about some these things, we should also pay close attention to how this plays out and see what sort of double standards emerge. To this day Chuck D and Public Enemy are still getting flack for statements made by Professor Griff over 10 years ago which were deemed anti-semetic. There was never any forgiveness. Cypress Hill saw their records get banned by Bay Area radio stations after one of the members of their opening act to their tour 10 years ago asked a San Francisco audience 'if they were men or fags'. Def Jeff found himself shut out from doing nightclubs when he shouted 'all the people with aids be quiet'. The list goes on. Will Eminem's offensive remarks be overlooked and forgiven? Will radio stations stop playing his song? Will his videos be banned? If Em's callous remarks from 10 years can be forgiven will we finally forgive Public Enemy or even Jessie Jackson for racially insensitive statements they made 10 and 20 years ago? Will Bill O'Reilly who often expresses his concern about the divisive offensive aspect of rappers, lead the charge to boycott Eminem? Will he instruct all those working class viewers to boycott Eminem like he did with Ludacris? We can't have it both ways.
If the issue is really about Em making disparaging remarks about Black women, will all of us in Hip Hop challenge ourselves and demand apologies from every artists who disses Black women? Will we hold their feet to the fire? Will we finally end the mass pimping that dominates the game right now? Better yet, forget the artists will those of us who can decide what to play or not to play stop playing this offensive material? Maybe it's me, but after hearing one on air discussion about Eminem and his offensive behavior toward Black women, a few minutes later I heard an R. Kelly song. I kept thinking to myself, didn't he pee on an underage black woman in a child porno video?
Something to think about...
Davey D. is an influential Hip-Hop opinion leader and publisher of DaveyD.com (http://www.daveyd.com)and can be contacted at: mrdaveyd@AOL.com
Editor's Note: You can read Eminem's lyrics at: http://www.thesource.com/html/eminemlyrics.pdf
Friday, November 21, 2003