Blaming Hip-Hop for Imus

By Muwakkil, Salim | In These Times, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Blaming Hip-Hop for Imus


Muwakkil, Salim, In These Times


PERHAPS IT WAS inevitable that discussions provoked by the words "nappy-headed hos" would come around to rap music and the culture of hip-hop. After all, hip-hop has taken the rap for just about every social ill: misogyny, gun violence, rampant materialism, anti-Semitism, gang warfare, even the decline of the NBA. Yes, to some extent, the insulting remarks of radio shock-jock Don Imus (who called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," for which he's been fired and subsequently sued) were drawn from a rhetorical subculture influenced by certain strands of rap music. But to focus on hip-hop as the instigator of our coarsening culture is a grievous misdiagnosis.

Hip-hop, at its best, reflects, distills, amplifies, deconstructs and re-contextualizes the social realities that are its raw material. The product of this creation then is reincorporated into that reality. Born in the ghettoes of New York City in the disjuncture between the hopes of the civil rights promise and the harsh realities of economic disinvestment, hip-hop's founding spirit expresses an insurgent rejection of business as usual.

Nevertheless, big business saw great profits in its growing popularity. Large record companies absorbed the independent labels and accelerated hip-hop's profit potential. These companies changed the marketing emphasis from creativity to profitability, which shifted the focus to the more sensationalistic aspects of the genre rather than its politically charged or artistically challenging expressions.

Thus, sensationalized tales of drug dealing, sex seeking and gun play (by groups like Oscar winner Three 6 Mafia) find more corporate support than political rappers like Dead Prez or adventurous groups like the Perceptionists. This disproportionate emphasis on pathology has distorted hip-hop's public face.

Thus, when Imus' defenders blamed hip-hop for providing their man the vocabulary for his insult, many agreed. Oprah Winfrey's entire response to the Imus affair was a two-segment "town hall" meeting on the state of hip-hop.

Even the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and leader of the campaign demanding Imus be fired, has linked arms with those protesting demeaning lyrics in hip-hop. On May 3, Sharpton led marches on the corporate offices of Sony-BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Groups to protest their promotion of demeaning rap lyrics.

"This is not about censorship-it is about standards," Sharpton told the crowd at the march's conclusion. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Blaming Hip-Hop for Imus
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.