Tuesday, May 01, 2007
From The New York Daily News…
The dragons among us are feeling the heat
By Stanley Crouch
After convincing so many that it was invincible to criticism and no more than a fresh voice of the street that was holding up a mirror and expressing unpleasant truths through its music and its poetry, the hip-hop dragon has begun to bleed. Profusely. It is easy to see how the Don Imus affair brought into question issues long avoided by the media and the civil rights leadership as well as the women’s movement.
While the contrast between actual black women and those presented as no more than sluttish sex toys in rap videos had seemingly bothered no one, we found that was not true at all. The dramatic contrast between the women’s basketball team at Rutgers and the kind of language Imus borrowed from the misogynist world of rap burst a boil.
Not only did filth flow out of this swollen sore; so did all of the suppressed or intimidated goodwill one would have hoped to see rise into view much sooner. But with black women in the lead this time and far from willing to shut up, the decrepit civil rights leadership and the media chimed in and would not back up.
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” devoted two solid hours to the subject last week, followed by Paula Zahn, who had already been on the case. Then Katie Couric, “60 Minutes” and the dragon slayer himself, Anderson Cooper.
On “60 Minutes” and CNN, Cooper did the most damage by getting the rapper Cam’ron to admit the actual truth while sitting there handsome and self-satisfied with his diamond earrings sparkling for the camera. Arrogant and charmless, he made it quite clear that he was much more interested in maintaining his thug image and making money than whether or not he encouraged self-destructive attitudes and homicidal actions among young people through his lyrics and videos.
The rapper couldn’t care less and, he said, neither did any of the big corporations promoting such products and ideas through their hip-hop lines. Material, I might add, that would be elevated if it were called slime.
Bad decision, homie: You let the world see what the real deal is and what those behind you believe in above all else.
Just as he admits to having sold drugs, Cam’ron appeared smug and happy about the millionaire status he has achieved through selling poison to his fans and helping to destroy the communities of some of his followers.
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was, I’m sure, appalled after all that he has done over the past few weeks, tirelessly trying to present these men as “poets.”
Spooked, Simmons even tried a diversion last week by calling for voluntary censorship of three little words from recordings and videos. Sorry, mogul. As the hip-hop chat rooms and the e-mail responses to Cooper and Winfrey made clear: The public has seen and heard what is actually being sold and what its actual effects are.
Cam’ron’s apology, so well written by his publicist, won’t stop what he helped make more than obvious to all who are willing to look at the real truth that was exposed in his “60 Minutes” interview. The almost irrevocable force of democratic goodwill is picking up its pace and is speaking across all lines of color, sex and creed, as it always must. We can be sure of this: The dragons are now trembling inside of their gated communities.