On April 4, 2007, Don Imus, the famous mumbling radio grump, set his 30-year career as a shock jock back somewhere between five and fifteen years when he described the highly successful Rutgers ladies' basketball as "nappy-headed hos." He was trying to be amusing, yet cutting edge, but wound up being vilified in the media, by community leaders, and, of course, by most politicians. Based on what he said, he deserves every bit of it. To his credit, Imus admits as much.
Now a wider debate has begun regarding this kind of derogatory language, and I think it's a debate that is long overdue. What Imus said was abhorrent; as well, it was something you can hear every day if you listen to nearly any of the top 10 rap songs currently playing in the United States.
Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnists and Fox News Analyst, noted recently, "Imus gets a two-week suspension. What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music industry enablers who have helped turn America into Tourette's Nation?"
How massive is that "dehumanizing barrage" which emanates from the rap community? A search of SongLyrics’ database was quite revealing. Beginning just with the words Imus used on April 4th and running a search of rap artists’ lyrics, the word "nappy" showed up in hundreds of songs. Some of the lines include the following:
• "I can't stand no sneaker-wearing nappy head bit_h (word)" - 2Pac: Song lyrics from "Fu__ Friends"
• "Violent J won't be ganked by no nappy-headed, bare-footed, crackheaded sewer skank" - Insane Clown Posse: Song lyrics from "Ghetto Zone Lyrics."
• "Cuz she's got a gang o' kidz nappy-heads and all dirty and she's gettin pimped by a n___ that's thirty." - N.W.A: Lyrics from "Just Don't Bite It."
As for the term "hos," I don't think it's necessary to even go there. Referencing females as "hos" in the rap genre is so common that any given search will likely turn up over a thousand uses of the word. The same goes, of course, for rappers who use even worse kinds of language to describe women and who very often in their videos dress those women up in skin-tight outfits and put them on display like pieces of meat.