Bleep! Censoring Rock and Rap Music

By Betty Houchin Winfield; Sandra Davidson | Go to book overview

6
Music Lyrics: As Censored as They Wanna Be

Jeffrey L. L. Stein

People magazine said that 2-Live Crew album As Nasty as They Wanna Be, which lasts 80 minutes, uses the word "fuck" 226 times, has 87 descriptions of oral sex, and at least one mention of incest. The album refers to women as "bitches" and "whores" 163 times.

-- People magazine, July 2, 1990, p. 84.

The effects of rock 'n' roll music, the upstart musical genre that many said would never last, have been present for more than 40 years. Throughout that time, American "society" has criticized the forms that popular music has taken as the nation itself changed with the music.

In the 1950s, the pelvic gyrations of Elvis Presley were censored from network television. In the 1960s, as the British invasion hit America's shores a generation of youth changed its hairstyle and listening habits. Low-cut shirts, white suits, and gold chains were the rage as the pounding disco beat dominated the 1970s. Then came the country music boom of the early 1980s and the early 1990s. For more than a decade, MTV has brought the dimension of sight to the sound the public had become used to, and younger and younger consumers have been exposed to more varieties of rock 'n' roll than ever before.

Now more than ever, concern surrounds the lyrics of certain popular songs. The music industry bowed to public pressure in the late 1980s and agreed to voluntarily place warning labels on products containing lyrics that might offend some listeners. But those labels are not enough for some. The popularity of rap music has led many to call for a complete ban of certain songs or records. The graphic and explicit lyrics of many of these songs, including 2-Live Crew's "As Nasty as They Wanna Be," have

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