Russell Simmons: Ban Racial And Sexist Epithets
April 24, 2007 at 5:47 AM (PT)
Hip-hop mogul RUSSELL SIMMONS said MONDAY that the recording and broadcast industries should consistently ban racial and sexist epithets from all so-called clean versions of rap songs and the airwaves. Currently such epithets are prohibited in most clean versions, but record companies sometimes "arbitrarily" decide which offensive words to exclude and there's no uniform standard for deleting such words, SIMMONS said.
The recommendations drew mixed reaction and come two weeks after some began carping anew about rap lyrics after radio personality DON IMUS was fired by CBS RADIO and MSNBC for referring to the players on the RUTGERS women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos."
This is a first step. It's a clear message and a consistency that we want the industry to accept for more corporate social responsibility.
Expressing concern about the "growing public outrage" over the use of such words in rap lyrics, SIMMONS said the words "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" should be considered "extreme curse words."
"We recommend [they're] always out," SIMMONS, the pioneering entrepreneur who made millions of dollars as he helped shape hip-hop culture, said in an interview MONDAY. "This is a first step. It's a clear message and a consistency that we want the industry to accept for more corporate social responsibility."
Last week, SIMMONS called a private meeting of influential music industry executives to discuss the issue (NET NEWS 4/19). However, no music executives were associated with MONDAY's announcement by SIMMONS' Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. The recommendations also included forums to foster dialogue among entertainers, hip-hop fans and executives and the creation of a mentoring program for entertainers. Another recommendation called for the establishment of a coalition of music, radio and television executives to advise those industries on "lyrical and visual standards."
The announcement cautioned against violating free-speech rights but said that freedom of expression comes with responsibility. "Our discussions are about the corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African-Americans and other people of color, African-American women and to all women in lyrics and images," read a joint statement from SIMMONS and BENJAMIN CHAVIS, the network's Executive Director.