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The Case Against Rap’s Case Against Oprah

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"She’s had rapists, child molesters, and lying authors on her show. And if I’m not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?" — Ice Cube

I begin my essay with this quote for one reason: it is a lie. O’Shea Jackson (Cube’s government name) was born to two UCLA faculty members on the outskirts of its campus. He got into rap, not because of any piercing poverty-driven need or wretched-of-the-earth existence, but because he didn’t want to be an architect.

He joined Eric “Eazy E” Wright, another suburban slacker, and Dr Dre, DJ Yella, and MC Ren to form NWA, a group whose racist, sexist, violent, and homophobic lyrics spoke about people they never knew, experiences they never had, and a community for which they had no right to speak.

As a solo artist, Cube aimed to take Amiri Baraka’s title of the America’s nastiest black bigot, specializing in soul-scarring genocidal reveries about Jews, women, Koreans, and black people who didn’t think and act like him. After Tupac and Biggie died, he focused more on making B-movies and working on the chitlin circuit of black films. One hoped and assumed he would have grown out of his hate-filled twenties, but since the suburban public’s thirst for black genocide has came back with a vengeance, Cube has decided to return to his hate mongering roots.

He's casting paid actors to create his own sadistic race war in the TV show Black/White (go look up Bruno Marcotulli’s film credits in IMDB), and creating another sadistic album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, which takes up the joys of not being a father and bashing interracial relationships. I cannot think of many people in the history of American popular culture who have taken so much from this country while giving so little.

Now he wants the head of Oprah, queen of American television and one of America’s greatest modern humanitarians and Horatio Alger stories, yet unpopular with the hip-hop/hipster crowd because she won't take an ax to the white man once a week and give an hour-long exclusive interview to Chamillionare. As a psychological play, it’s easy to see why Ice Cube would look at Oprah and recoil with rage.

Oprah was born in extreme poverty in the Deep South, while Cube was born in relative academic privilege. Oprah survived a hard childhood, while Cube had a peaceful two-parent home. Oprah overcame tremendous hardships to rise to tremendous heights, while Cube searched for hardships and reconstructed himself as a ghetto sadist to validate his existence. Oprah is a strong successful female, while Cube wrote several songs about raping strong successful females.

Oprah has an audience that spans the world, while Cube’s audience barely goes beyond his B-movie stardom and the frat boys who eat up his records. Oprah is Cube’s nightmare made flesh, a walking remainder that he made his empire on flimsy excuse mongering, and a symbol that there have been people who have done much more with much less than he had, and who have been much more noble while doing so.

Cube’s argument with Oprah is a piggy back of Rapper Ludacris’ beef with her, which in turn was piggybacked by rappers 50 cent and Killer Mike. Now, Syracuse professor Boyce Watkins, in numerous interviews and on talk shows, is giving the gripes of these rappers the imprimatur of academia. Central to Watkins’ arguments is that, although these rappers might have vicious and violent lyrics towards women, they have come from bad situations in their lives and have done some good by making money for themselves and being successful in the cinema.

These rappers, according to Watkins, symbolize the downtrodden black male, and because Oprah doesn’t give them a voice, she is showing that she hates black men. My argument would be that Oprah's main goal, like millions of black people concerned about the state of Black America, is to do everything in her power to try and make it better. Oprah understands that when Cube, Ludacris, and Fiddy’s checks clear and the frat kids who bang their music on the weekends go back to school on Monday, Black America has to deal with serious problems by itself, problems that are certainly not the fault of rappers, but problems that rappers are certainly not helping.

If trying to solve those problems means stepping on the self-esteem of a couple of vulgar gangsta millionaires, so be it.

Also, given their hits ("Cave Bitch,” “Move Bitch, Get Out The Way,” “You's A Ho,” “ I Got Hoes In Different Area Codes,” and “Dont Fuck With A Bitch From The Projects”), Ice Cube and Ludacris have a tremendous amount of nerve to suggest that the most successful black woman in the history of this nation bow down and respect them. Both men have made their careers by stepping on the necks of black people, primarily black women, and given that there is such a thing as a first amendment in this country, that’s fine.

To quote Candide, one has the right to cultivate their own garden. But why can't people understand that Oprah, as well as the majority of black people who don’t buy and aren’t interested in both men’s music, might want something else to be entertained by? Why should black people who don’t like rap be punished for wanting something else? Why should they be punished by avoiding Cube and Ludacris altogether?

Why should they be punished for thinking there is more to Black history than “hoes in different area codes"? Why should Oprah, and millions of other black people, be punished for not swallowing whole Cube's and Ludacris’ vision of black women, and daring to think that Cube and Ludacris just might not be the font of black male expression? (And why do so many people think of Cube and Ludacris as the font of black male expression?)

Gangsta rap’s defenders have never stopped to think that maybe Oprah, like millions of black people, knows those "bitches" that Ludacris wants out of the way are raising our children without the help of fathers. Maybe Oprah knows those "cave bitches" that Cube wants to rape are struggling with high numbers of sex crimes, high numbers of sexual abuse, and record numbers of AIDS cases. Maybe Oprah knows that those "hoes in different area codes" are succeeding in spite of periously little love and respect from black men.

Maybe, just maybe, Oprah knows there have been millions of families tormented by the crack that Young Jeezy and Chamillionare love to rap about, that millions of young black men have been scarred by the absentee fatherism that Ice Cube has recently bragged about, and millions of black people have been traumatized by the misery, pain, and self destruction that Hip Hop America gobbles up for its entertainment every hour on the hour.

Ludacris and Ice Cube aren’t the reason for Black America’s misery, pain, and self-destruction. What they have done, however, is written the soundtrack to it, and profited mightily in the process. The debate they have with Oprah isn’t about their right to do so, as no one is saying that Gangsta rappers should be censored. We live in a democratic society and if the gangsta rapper wants to profit from someone else's pain and the gangsta rap fan wants to dance to it, it is their right.

The debate with Oprah is about is Black America’s (or at least the vast majority of Black America that doesn’t buy hip hop records) right to turn away from that Ludacris, Ice Cube, and that gangsta rap fan in disgust.

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About Robert Lashley

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Well said! Gangsta rap may not create the problems of the black community, but it certainly gives those problems more longevity by helping pathetic sociopaths think of themselves as admirable and strong when in reality they are contemptible and weak.

    It perpetuates a twisted subculture where people who act in a civilized and educated manner are denigrated as “acting white” — as if it is somehow unnatural for black people to display courtesy, education, or any other trace of self-respect. In some ways the gangsta subculture is more racist than the Jim Crow south ever was.

    White southerners believed it was dangerous for blacks to learn how to read, because it might make them ambitious and inspire them to seek a better life. Now the gangsta subculture tries to prove blacks are easily seduced away from learning and progress by the tenuous promise of easy money from oppressing their own neighbors, their own sisters, and their own mothers.

    Thank you for standing up and declaring unequivocally that the gangsta subculture has not yet won its battle to dominate the entire landscape of black American culture. For all our sakes, black and white together, let’s hope it never does.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    I really enjoyed your article. One point regarding Cube’s new album though – I think you may be misreading the lyrics a bit. I’m not sure which song you’re talking about that bashes interracial marriage, but the song “Child Support” which you claims “takes up the joys of not being a father” ought not to be read so literally. It’s quite clear from reading the lyrics that the children Cube refers to are other rappers whom he influenced and not literal “bastard kids.”

    I think you’re making a lot of really valid points here, but I do think Cube has done a bit of growing up. Sure, his lyrics might not make the most subtle or nuanced agruments but I think his new album might be a bit heavier on the social commentary than the ignorant posturing of his youth.

  • Adam Vega

    You also took the lyrics to “Cave Bitch” entirely out of context.

  • http://theliterarythug.blogspot.com robert lashley

    But not the lyrics of One less bitch and find em fuck em and flee. Next.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Your point is well taken and well written, but I have one small question, really a detail with little bearing on your article:

    All the information that I can find on Ice Cube says that his parents were both employed at UCLA…but nothing identifies them as actual faculty members. (You could be a janitor and be employed at UCLA.) Do you perchance have a source for that?

  • http://www.chantalstone.blogspot.com chantal stone

    Whether or not a non-creative lyric has or has not been taken out of context here is hardly the issue.

    The issue is that Ice-Cube and his misogynistic buddies have a lot of nerve calling out Oprah, when she has spent a lifetime trying to break free of any negative stereotype put upon Black people, while THEY have spent their shallow, pathetic careers doing everything they can to perpetuate these very stereotypes.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    “But not the lyrics of One less bitch and find em fuck em and flee. Next.”

    Next? And yet you still haven’t really dealt with my (valid) points regarding his new album…

  • http://theliterarythug.blogspot.com robert lashley

    Michael: from msn.com

    ” Cube, a.k.a. O’Shea Jackson, was born in Crenshaw, South Central Los Angeles, California, on June 15th 1969. He enjoyed a relatively stable upbringing. Cube’s parents, both UCLA professors, provided a warm home and nurtured their son’s dreams. Still, living in South Central, he was exposed to the gritty urban lifestyle his whole life.”

    Bryan: I wasnt talking to you on that one.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    Re: Michael J. West’s comments.

    I found this in a Village Voice article:

    “I got the idea [for the Hip-Hop Archive] because of Ice Cube. Ice Cube’s father tended the grounds at UCLA near where I taught. . . . I remember when they were filming Higher Learning (1995) on campus and I just thought it was incredibly surreal that this guy was tending the grounds and that Ice Cube was sitting on one of those carts. His father reminded me—and this could all be my imagination, I hardly said anything to him but ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’—of someone who was just bitter, and he did what he did.”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brother Lashley, this is an outstanding bit of writing. In theory this seems like a pretty obvious basic point, but I’ve not seen anyone else really make it- certainly not this well.

    I admit to having a little bit of a soft spot for Ice Cube, though it’s mostly for Barbershop- which is pretty much the diametric opposite of, as Eddie would put it, that hippity-hoppity nonsense. But I suspect that if I were darker in hue, I might not have as much patience for the gangsta nonsense.

    And a black WOMAN would really not have much reason to be promoting this ghetto schtick just as a matter of self-respect both for herself and her people. I don’t pay much attention to Oprah (I’m probably not the target market), but I’d bet she’s got plenty of black men on- just not a lot of ghetto thugs.

    You make an unassailable case against Cubism on Oprah based on uplifting the race and all, but you really don’t need to go that far. She’s got an afternoon talk show marketed to middle aged women. What 50 year old woman of ANY ethnic background wants to watch a gangsta minstrel show? Should Oprah turn off her main constituency by insisting on putting up this hateful, belligerant foolishness that her audience doesn’t even WANT to see?

    There’s just no reason in the world why Oprah would fool with them, other than some cheap intimidation like this nonsense about hating black men if she doesn’t. But if she really has a high opinion of black men, she won’t be looking for the lowest, most vulgar and ghetto characters to represent.

    It might be a bit risky with the tricky nature of racial pride and politics, but her better move would be to nicely but openly and actively renounce all that cheap gangsterism, go all Bill Cosby on them. She might be argued to be leaving herself open by not addressing the issue directly like this. She’d risk perhaps alienating a few misguided souls on the edge if she did, but not addressing the issue might be taken to look like she’s somehow hiding or being less than forthcoming.

    On the other hand, if she just stood up and said a few dozen words explaining that she’s just not interested in promoting ghetto behavior like that, what could anyone say against her?

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    Ghetto behavior is the behavior of people in ghettos. Not all people in ghettos behave like violent, misogynistic rap stars. Let’s get our verbiage straight.

    Plus your little aside about “hippity-hoppity nonsense” is a nice way of marginalizing and trivializing a large (and important) cultural movement. Not all hip-hop is about guns and violence and misogyny. Try out Mos Def or Talib Kweli. I know you’ve dug Kanye at least a little bit in the past, so you’ve gotta admit it’s not all that bad.

    I agree that a lot of the gangsta rap is empty posturing, but there is some truly harrowing shit going down in these songs that is at least interesting from a sociological perspective. The fact that there is a huge culture that buys this music would suggest that it deserves a closer examination than it gets. Often we dismiss it, but there’s something important (and maybe even a bit scary) going on there.

  • argoson

    Excellent article.

    The only think I might add is that Oprah’s also the most generous black in American history. According to Business Week Oprah has personally donated a QUARTER of a BILLION dollars of her OWN MONEY to charity, making her the first black on their list of America’s 50 greatest philanthropists.

    In addition Oprah’s audience has given TENS of MILLIONS to charity which helped blacks afflicted by Katrina, women in the Congo etc.

    I think black men are jealous because the ONLY black billionaire in the entire world is a woman. Check out Forbes international rich list. BET founder Bob Johnson is now off the list, and Oprah’s the world’s ONLY black billionaire!

    She’s not just the most successful black woman, she’s the most successful black person.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Bryan, most of rap music deserves to be trivialized and marginalized. We could argue about it sociologically, but my main objection is that it is bad music. That’s not because there’s no talent, but because it’s mostly not about music in the first place. It’s all about the benjamins. Of course, this can be said of, say, Britney Spears among many others. It’s not like rappers are the only folks making crappy music.

    But Ice Cube is not particularly about music to begin with. That he’s come up with a couple of decent songs is almost accidental. Ain’t none of these people going to make anyone forget actual MUSICIANS like, say, Prince or Miles Davis.

    Which is not to dismiss all hip-hop or rap, or even all gangsta rap. “F*&#$ the Police” still gets regular rotation on the iPod, for one. Foolishness aside, PE had some worthwhile songs in their prime. I try to keep an open ear. But I’m not going to talk my self into liking some utterly musically non-interesting crapola to prove I’m down with the hood.

    There is certainly a large culture that buys this music, but then again there was a huge culture that loved blackface minstrel shows. Doesn’t make them good art, though- or worthy of defending.

    Also Bryan, perhaps YOU need to work on getting your verbiage straight. “Ghetto” behavior in fact is commonly used to describe specifically those negative attitudes and actions typified by gangsta rap. Of course not everyone who has to live in the ghettoes engages in the negative behavior. They’re just the ones having to bear the brunt of other people’s bad behavior.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    Mostly it is about the benjamins, you’re right, but mainstream country music these days seems to me to be about the same thing but you don’t hear me dismissing all country as nonsense. I referenced a few specific artists who aren’t in it simply for the money as evidence. You didn’t hear me defending some of the more blatantly commercial acts.

    And yeah, I’m more than aware that “ghetto behavior” is used to describe those actions, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t seem fair to associate these million-dollar artists with real ghettos. You were speaking properly within the cultural vernacular, but that doesn’t mean the vernacular can’t be offensive. Whether you like it or not, the term associates poor minorities with violent crime and abusive behavior. They aren’t free of that sort of thing, of course, but it doesn’t seem fair to shove that label upon everyone who lives in that segment of society.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Bryan, if you’re reading my stuff, you’ll find that I WILL dismiss almost all modern commercial country music as nonsense. Just on musical grounds, I listen to a lot more rap (which is to say, “a little bit”) than to country. I’ll listen to a little urban radio now and again, whereas I’d about as soon take a beating as listen to commercial country radio ever.

    Pretty much NO ONE thinks that EVERY person who lives in ghetto neighborhoods lives down to the stereotypes. Plus, not every person who lives in impoverished neighborhoods is black. I appreciate not wanting to negatively brand the innocent, but you risk bending over so far backwards in a misguided ideal of fairness that you refuse to acknowledge reality.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    What’s misguided about fairness? From your position of relative privilege, it’s pretty damn easy for you to make these arguments. Please, Al, enlighten me: What reality am I failing to acknowledge?

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    Also, you wrote:

    “Bryan, if you’re reading my stuff, you’ll find that I WILL dismiss almost all modern commercial country music as nonsense.”

    And if you’re reading my writing you’ll find that I just freakin’ agreed with you: “mainstream country music these days seems to me to be about the [benjamins].” I don’t write off the entire GENRE of country music the way you are writing off the entire GENRE of “hippity-hoppity nonsense.” If you specified in the first place we wouldn’t have gotten into this mess.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Bryan, now you’re crossing over into pure PC foolishness. “Fairness” is an unquestionable concept that is HIGHLY overrated.

    What’s misguided about fairness? Nothing, as a general principle- but everything when it gets rated higher as a priority than telling the truth. When you get so concerned with how someone could possibly misinterpret your remarks that you start self-censoring and have to dance around the truth, then it’s bad.

    What reality are you failing to acknowledge? The reality that the problems of poor folk living in ghettoes are largely the bad behavior of their neighbors, not the presumed prejudices of everyone else.

    As to my “position of relative privledge”: What priviledge is it that I am presumed to have- as if you knew anything about me to speak so presumptively?

    As to “pretty damn easy for you to make these arguments,” I might suggest that it’s pretty damned easy for YOU to sit in Boston in your post-colonial studies yank off classes talking this worthless PC foolishness that does not advance the quest for truth, nor help poor people. Not exactly swmming against the current there, are you?

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    When you get so concerned with how someone could possibly misinterpret your remarks that you start self-censoring and have to dance around the truth, then it’s bad.

    Then the truth is what… all hip-hop sucks and all poor people are criminals? These are the only points I disputed. Since I know that you don’t believe those two things I just named, I’m not sure what you’re arguing about.

    The reality that the problems of poor folk living in ghettoes are largely the bad behavior of their neighbors, not the presumed prejudices of everyone else.

    Both are contributing factors. As a talented writer yourself, I know you understand the power of words. Do you think the use of the n-word didn’t ever hurt anybody? Prejudices do matter, and if poor impoverished black people are constantly lumped in with criminal, misogynistic gangsta rappers, that can really do a number on their self-esteem.

    What priviledge is it that I am presumed to have?

    I know you’re white and male which is a huge set of privileges. You’re also well-liked enough to have thirty-thousand (?) people stuff your name into a ballot box. On top of that, you obviously have an internet connection and a computer which is more than can be said for the majority of the world’s populace.

    And as for your last paragraph, how does a fucking education not advance the “quest for truth?” What do you propose I be doing with my time? Should I sit at home waxing roth about the Dixie Chicks all day? I value an education. Specifically, I value a well-rounded education, and that involves learning about a lot of different things that you may or may not disagree with. Try having an open mind for once. I’m twenty years old, I’m a college student with a whole life ahead of me to try and make a difference with if I so choose – what exactly do you do that’s any better?

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    Al Barger says: “most of rap music deserves to be trivialized and marginalized. We could argue about it sociologically, but my main objection is that it is bad music.” This from a man who thinks The White Stripes are both talented and original!

    Al, just in case you missed it, rap/hip-hop is the last great new music. It has been at the cutting edge of progressive new music ever since some NYC kids started copping ideas from Jamican toasters at the end of the 70s.

    That’s over thirty years of continuous musical evolution and growth whilst simultaneously embracing both art and commerciality. If only rock had been able to do the same…

  • http://www.chantalstone.blogspot.com chantal stone

    even though comment #12 is a very positive one…I can’t help but be bothered by this: “…Oprah’s also the most generous black in American history.”

    and this: “…making her the first black on their list…”

    Color me sensitive….but something’s just a little off about about referring to someone as a black, instead of a black PERSON, no matter how politely it is stated.

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan McKay

    chantal: I’m not defending/advocating any one position and nor would I deny you your right to be offended, but I just wanted to point out that I have seen folks both white and black use either set of terms. Some people find them offensive, some don’t. I understand your point, but I don’t think the commenter meant any harm.

  • http://sterfish.blogspot.com Sterfish

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Oprah’s appearance on Ed Lover’s radio show.

  • http://catherinejames.blogspot.com/ cat

    You’ve eloquently articulated an opinion I’ve held for years. Thank your for standing up and giving these thoughts voice and validity.

  • http://theliterarythug.blogspot.com robert lashley

    I admit that the source I got that said that Ice cube’s parents were professors was wrong. However, even if he wasnt that far away from the vicinity, Cube had a lot more than most poor black folks had, had a family more stable than most poor black folks had, and had a whole lot more than he ever had the right to rap about. My father went into rehab in 1987 and got a job as a groundskeeper for the University of Puget Sound, and although he got back on drugs 6 months later and lost the job after a year, he still netted 2500-3000 a month(even in the months he was smoking it up). So Ice cube’s parents were well off.

    I know Im not partial on this subject. A lot of my anger at cube comes from living a great deal of my childhood in this neighborhood. seattlepinwsource.com

    I have a lot of scars from this, scars that I will carry till the day I die, and I have troubles with anyone who hasnt lived in that who claims they does. Every black man goes through problems in America, but a whole lot of brothers who actually went through what Cube speaks dont rap about it because they arent here to tell it.

  • http://theliterarythug.blogspot.com robert lashley

    I’m sorry, I should have said claims they did in my last post.

  • Jett

    This article is bias and very one-sided. Ice Cubes parents did work at UCLA, but they werent teachers or anything, they were janitors(if I remember corectly). Rap music is what you call it, but the proper name is Hip Hop. The music you hear and the music you talk about is the music that the media wants you to hear. But if you dive deeper into Hip Hop, youll find a very intelligent open-minded group of people. When talking about such topics you should be clear about the group you are speaking of. Ice Cube is not an emcee of Hip Hop. He is a Gansgter Rapper. Gangster rap is a whole ‘nother genre of Hip Hop, mostly media enduced to make hip hop seem as if its unintleligent blather. To see Rap and Hip Hop at its truest form you should try listening to somebody like Kanye West True Life, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, LL Cool J(the older songs), and GLC.

    There are many non-gangster rappers with positive messeges that Oprah could have on the show. I think her opinion abotu not having rappers(emcees) on the show is very blind-minded and discriminative.
    People(this goes to at least 75% of not only america, but the entire world) now adays need to think for themselves and figure thigns out on there own. We are to quick to judge people and cultures by what the media portrays.(the media as well as the goverment)

  • Ivan Thomas

    First of all…to these people trying to interpret rap music, you have no idea what you are talking about, because if you actually listened half of the songs aren’t even about what you think they are. You need to learn how to read between the lines. Ice Cube is a father and a husband, so trust me he isn’t supporting fathers abondoning their children. When Ludacris talks about hoes, he isn’t referring to Black women…he is referring to hoes. If you aren’t a hoe, then he isn’t talking about you. Next, the issue with Oprah and the rap artists has absolutely nothing to do with rap music. So where Ice Cube grew up is absolutely irrelevant to the issue. It has to do with giving people fair opportunity. Take Ludacris for example….rap is only a part of his life, it doesn’t define him. When he was on the Oprah show, he wasn’t there as a rapper, he was there as an actor in the movie Crash. Now if she is going to invite him on the show, and allow the other actors in the movie to speak and share their opinions, then Ludacris should have recieved the same opportunity. I think that Oprah is an excellent woman and role model, and lots of what she has done has contributed greatly to society. However, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t fallible…she needs to give people a fair opportunity.

  • Ivan Thomas

    Also, this whole bs about how generous she is…yea you are right, she is. But contrary to what you might believe, many rappers contribute alot to their communities as well. Its not that hard to be generous when you are worth half a billion dollars. There is no need to even put race into the equation. If you want to put it that way she is more generous than most White people out there too….yourself included

  • Fez 2

    As a hip-hop artist I find a lot of things said here quite worrying. The majority of black people the world over are poor and lower down the economic scale. Oprah is the only black person in her position and that speaks volumes. Her main ‘consumers’ are obviously not black therefore who is playing the minstrel show here? The interesting thing about the so called ‘black republican’ view point is that it is directed mainly at a white middle class audience who cherish and wallow in its Strussian wisdom.

    For a lot of black ‘successful’ people, the only way to be ‘decent’, ‘educated’, ‘successful’ or a ‘role model’ is to do those same things white people have been doing for years. This is why the phrase ‘I am the first black that did this and that’ is the overriding yard stick for the black (house negro) or even the ghetto (field negro) bourgeois achiever like Ice Cube and JZ.

    I agree with Thomas Sowell that Ebonics and the so called MTV ghetto culture is a relic of the 19th century white redneck culture. But the funny thing is that the alternative for Sowell is to succumb to white middle class culture dating back to the French court society and Victorian protestant England. Both Oprah and her critics’ biggest audience are white middle class people whether youths or ‘middle age white women’. This is a trend pioneered by the minstrel show. So for me, Oprah’s distain for rap disguised in pseudo feminist garb is an attempt to separate herself from her field brother. Those who make the high culture/low culture distinction between gangsta rap and hiphop are basically doing the same thing.

    Whether Ice cube was born middle class or not, he is now middle class, so is the so called commercial black culture and ‘entertainment’ which gangsta rap and Oprah’s show is an integral part of. We must not forget that just like the Minstrel show industry, the ‘entertainment’ industry is mainly consumed by white middle class people, who also immensely profit from it. The phrase ‘behind every successful black entrepreneur there is a whiteman’ is not so far from the truth or the whiteman’s yardstick of overrated fairness. Part of the problem with all this naïve analysis of what is high culture and low culture; dumb hiphop and intelligent rap; ghetto culture and suburbia nuanced sensibility; overrated fairness and truth, liberals and conservatives is that it all fits into the model of house negro and field negro. The only person the house negro wants to be better than is his field brother. Malcolm X understood this very well – massa we sick?

  • Wanderer

    So Oprah should invite guests who are of no real interest to her audience because their skin color is the same as hers. Interesting concept. Would you defend some white talk show host who had a KKK leader on his show and say he had no choice but to do it because the Klansman had the same skin color as he did? Or let’s take the hate out of it, and simply ask if Michael Savage has to give Michael Moore a podium because they’re both white? Obviously that’s crazy talk.

    Let’s flip this around a bit. Shouldn’t the offended rappers have just as much obligation to promote Oprah’s talk show as she has to promote their music? Shouldn’t they be writing about how great her show is, and how everyone should watch it, just because her skin is the same color theirs is? Crazy talk again, of course. And it’s just as crazy the other way around.

    It’s a free country. Ice Cube has the right to sell any kind of music he wants to sell. Oprah has the right to sell any kind of talk show she wants to sell. And neither one of them has any obligation to promote the other one’s business for any reason, least of all because of the color of their skin.

  • Andie

    Oprah has yet to have a death metal act on her show. No polka either! What is this world coming to?

  • Mr Mackey

    Gangsta’s are bad mm’kaaaaaaay

  • http://www.johncho.com sp0

    ICE Cube is black. Oprah is black. Oprah is playing the woman card on this one. The thing is she seems to be saying that black women should marry white men or something who are also sexist….

    Mostly the world is sexist against women. Thus, i do not understand how she could support any males..

    For instance, she likes Keyne West, but that dude supports a male looking G-d. Then she likes jay-z as a rapper too, but that guy used to pimp girls lots….

    thus, i do not understand how she wants to play this game…. it seems like she is using that women are scared of violence and thus should hide and say they are victimized and try to hide sexism instead of confronting it…

    it is all hyprocritical and goes around in a cycle.

  • sp0

    The point is this:

    Ice Cube and Ludacris are doing wonderful work at exposing sexism in society. They talk about what is reflection. It is Oprah who wants to hide it and not talk about it like it does not exists…

    If Ice Cube and Ludacris talk about sexism in society does that mean they are sexist? I am not sure. If i say that being sexist means that i have hoes in a different area code…. it is about exposing sexism in society…. it is not saying i actually have a girlfriend or anything similar.

  • http://don hey dd

    some of you are missing the point. some one touched on it above but the bigger problem here is capitalism and how we are liveing in a white supremist patriacy. refer to bell hooks’ article on this called Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap? this is not to say that these rappers are off the hook but we need to look at the bigger picture why this is happening, who owns these business and corporations who distribute this music, who’s in power. the white man with white interset they dont care about people of color they just care about what sells, and if they think sexism sells they are going to play it up, and encourage artists to play it up. the problem is a systmeic one. wathing oprah’s town forom i couldn’t not think about this. untill we think about these things critically they will continue and even oprah is perpetuating this.
    and there are good rappers out ther mos def, talib, roots, M.I.A> but they dont get mainstream play b/c thier lyrics do not perputate those things that’s way they dont have as large of a market. anyways thats all

  • Jorge Garcia

    Okay, screw Oprah, screw the guy that wrote this article, and screw everybody that doesn’t like Gangsta Rap (which isn’t very many people).

    Maybe Ice Cube did have a good childhood, maybe he didn’t, I don’t know, what I do know is that someone did, and Ice Cube knows that. Like he said when he was with the N.W.A, they’re just speaking the truth of what goes on in the world and on the streets. They rap about what happens on the streets. What’s wrong with that!?

    People like Oprah and the guy that wrote this article like to think happy thoughts, but the second someone speaks the truth of what goes on in the world, it promotes something like violence, rape, murder, arsen, theft, or war, and it should be stopped. What about when someone reports it on the news, should they be stopped?

    I got something to say to the guy that wrote this article and Oprah, bad things are going to happen in the world anyways. The truth hurts, and that’s what Ice Cube speaks on his records, the truth. Ice Cube is just like a news reporter, he just raps about what happens in the world, adds music, makes it entertaining, puts it on CD’s, and makes a living out of doing it. What’s wrong with that? NOTHING!

  • V8

    Its true. Great point of view.
    Thats why i listen more to KRS-ONE than to Ludacris.
    “KRS-ONE – Black Women” Hip Hop Response to this case.

  • DFLOW

    I have heard a lot of valid points through this site. being a hip hop artist myself i must say that a lot of these artists eazy e, tupac, eminem, biggie, the game, bone thugs, Ice cube etc. have gone through very rough times with out a doubt in my mind, how ever many of these artists made a substantial amount of money which gave them the opportunity to leave behind “the hood lifestyle.” thats not an easy thing to do when you’ve lived your whole life in such a manner. it’s a choice to listen to this music just like its a choice to live your life the way you do and i really don’t see what is to debate here. if you dont like whats being played on a certain radio station dont listen to it. i feel these artists shouldn’t be denied the right to say what they want or need to say. GOOD LUCK CHANGING FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Guns dont pull the trigger on another human being them selves nor do drugs distrubute them selves. people make these consious decisions so i feel that each individual person doing these criminal acts should be fully responsible for their actions. i feel it is very typical and stereo typical to blame an artist for saying how they feel whether its true or not. its entertainment people.

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