This is BN-W’s third quarterly music monitoring session – Spring 2005. As with the previous music monitors – Winter 2005 (BN-W #21) and Fall 2004 (BN-W #9), it wasn’t necessary to waste hours listening to a bunch of individual CDs. We read the lyrics to most of the songs from the Internet using the following Web sites:
(1) www.ohhla.com [primarily rap/hip-hop lyrics]
(2) www.lyricsbox.com [all music types]
(3) www.lyricspondemand.com [all music types]
(4) www.stlyrics.com [film/movie soundtracks]
As with all of the BN-W’s music monitoring sessions, it continues to be brutally disappointing listening to and/or reading the lyrics for some of the CDs and hearing the self-hatred, which they don’t even recognize, just spewing out with ease from these young people’s mouths. We’ll start out on a high note before getting to the extremely disappointing top 20 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums by recommending some albums we consider “worth purchasing.” Since we’ve been doing BN-W we don’t often buy anything (other than jazz or instrumental music) without reading the lyrics first, listening to the majority of the tracks, and getting a lot of good buzz on the artist. But this time around we decided to take a chance and lucked out with selecting several really good CDs, which are listed below. We were totally satisfied with these CDs. Did we like every single track? No! But did we like the majority of the tracks? Absolutely yes! You can put these CDs on shuffle and let them rotate without being concerned about the N-word, misogynistic lyrics, violence, drugs, overemphasis on sex acts (note, not love acts or romantic acts or an intelligent and creative balanced combination of all three – but literally and figuratively sex “acts”), and other such nonexistent lyrical “poetry” we’re offered today. Many of today’s R&B/Hip-Hop lyrics seem equivalent to learning about romance/sex/lovemaking through watching porn videos. It may be raw and appear to be real, but you’re only getting the bare minimum. So, our kids are learning the semi-false physical and visual but are not understanding and are confused on the mental and emotional. They’ve got it so much tougher than most of us ever had it.
In an effort to stay focused on the positive energy, we’ll tell you how we selected these “worth purchasing” CDs:
KEM – we heard a song from his first album and he seemed like a brother who had common sense and, at the same time, wasn’t afraid to show sensitivity. Turns out we were correct and both his albums reflect his philosophy of “not trying to market to that get naked crowd. My primary purpose is to serve people who like what I do….Mostly, my songs are about the human condition.” Check out his Web site and see his latest video entitled “I Can’t Stop Loving You” at www.kemmusic.com.
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN – after seeing the video for the first single, “Purify Me,” with India.Arie and knowing the movie did not use the N-word and it was positive overall, we had to give it a shot. The video is pleasant, sunny, airy, refreshing, romantic – not the crowds, not the rump/booty shakers in bikinis, not the gangstas/thugs hanging at the beach (or in a parking lot), not the rap portion thrown in “just because,” and just about any other similar “nots” you can probably think of – and the lyrics make sense as well as fit with the movie’s concept. Again, another correct choice.
SMOKEY ROBINSON – we don’t even have to explain the selection process for this one. It’s obvious. A really wonderful collection of his greatest hits with two new ones as well. Smokey is a truly talented lyricist and writer with a proven and definitive track record. The quality of lyrics is so drastically different – grammar and content wise – that it’s truly refreshing to go back to the good old stuff. And this CD is, of course, a totally correct choice.
Stevie Wonder (www.stevie-wonder.com) is also supposed to be coming out with a new album (“A Time 2 Love”) on June 14th. We’re looking forward to that and plan to take a chance with that one too. So, with that in mind, we’re going to start our monitoring session with those CDs that are just nice to listen to without the drama and without the confusion that’s commonplace in much of today’s R&B/Hip-Hop music.
CDs – Worth Purchasing
|[Soundtrack]||Diary Of A Mad Black Woman|
|Smokey Robinson||My World: The Definitive Collection|
[The official BN-W CD Monitoring session of Billboard magazine’s “ Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” is farther down in this document.]
Because music can be so much more personal than a film on a big screen, we think it’s safe to say that, in general, music (and lyrics, if applicable) can hit a little closer to your soul and can get embedded to a certain extent. We say embedded because a lot of times you’re listening to it in your car, with your walkman or portable CD, with headphones or earplugs, when you’re getting dressed, possibly when you wake up or before you go to sleep, and the list goes on. This, in our opinion, makes it a whole lot more personal. Therefore, to be honest with you, unless you’re a music critic or a diehard rap/hip-hop fan, a lot of the CDs with excessive and/or unnecessary use of the N-word that we monitored are really just not worth listening to. Most of the artists listed for this Spring monitor stick to the usual, thus making them simplistic and status quo followers focusing on the typical topics of sex, hoes, bitches, money, bling-bling, cars, violence, killing, drugs, liquor, and the come-to-expect foolishness glorified in lyrics, song, dance, and video. Unfortunately, most of these artists have no real talent for writing, lyricism, poetry, or rapping. Quite frankly, based on much of the lyrics, the elementary writing style, and the videos, many are just opportunists who got an opportunity to imitate what they saw on TV in a video and just knew they “could do that too.” The copycat scenarios give us all the standard blueprint that makes it so clear to even the novice monitoring eye.
As with the Fall 2004 and Winter 2005 monitors, some of the beats are funky or “slamming,” as the slang goes, but so what. If the lyrics overall aren’t saying much on top of using the N-word excessively – again, so what it’s danceable. We were told that you can purchase an instrumental version of all the songs, so if you love the beat that much consider doing that and then rapping or singing over it yourself. Also, some artists didn’t use the N-word directly themselves, but they had guest artists that used it. One of those guest artists included Twista who tainted Mariah Carey’s CD and Pusha-T who did the same thing to Faith Evans’ CD with the ignorance of this word. So, ladies, rethink using them again if they can’t bring your quality of work up a notch instead of down five notches. We can’t resist a mini piece of fun poetry for you: Twista is the kista of death! Rappers T.I. and Nelly also destroyed Bobby Valentino’s new album (listed below) with what they call an “Ingorant [sic]Remix” of his current single, “Slow Down.” This remix is unbelievable. It appears to be some kind of jail-coded sex remix that only people in prison (or recently out of prison, like T.I. is) would understand. Go to www.lyricsbox.com for this Bobby Valentino “Slow Down” remix and figure it out for yourself. It’s foul and unfathomable that they (and the executives that allowed this) would find this cool enough to sit back and record – nevertheless actually release. What’s up, T.I., Nelly, and Bobby V.?
Before getting to the chart, following are some lyrics taken from www.ohhla.com so you can decide for yourself if these are lyrics that our kids should be jamming to with no questions asked. Three 6 Mafia and 50 Cent are currently in the top 20. Pimp C was in the top 20 last month. Will Smith is the only one whose lyrics don’t include the N-word and he’s trying to take rap back to a more pure and conscious form of the pre-corporate greed takeover days – and, of course, he wasn’t in the top 20 for long – about four weeks compared to 50 Cent’s ten weeks so far:
THREE 6 MAFIA :
50 CENT :
[An interesting side note is that even with 50’s routine misogynistic style of lyrics, actresses Regina King, Tyra Banks, Sanaa Lathan, and Gabrielle Union were flattered that he would reference them in a remix of a Tweet song that he participated in. If these fully grown women, who should know better, can be pulled into the fray then is it any wonder why young girls are in trouble.]
PIMP C :
Below is BN-W’s quarterly CD monitoring session for Spring 2005, which includes 20 CDs that are from Billboard magazine’s “ Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” (www.billboard.com) for the issue date of May 21, 2005. As we indicated in BN-W #34, we’re using a new system and format. We are no longer giving a range for the N-word usage because once is too much. So, if an artist appears in the “Low – Excessive” column, that artist is already in the wrong category and should work on moving into the “None” column – and not because they need to fit in but because it makes no sense to use the N-word excessively and/or unnecessarily. If that means schooling themselves and their guest artists, then that’s what they need to do. Given the powerful history of overcoming tremendous civil, human, and social obstacles as well as bringing music (from jazz/blues/rock and roll to the Motown sound/R&B/early hip-hop) to an unprecedented level here in America and throughout the entire world, thus playing a major part in making America what it is today, African-American writers, musicians, singers, and entertainers have got to do better than allowing this imagery to continue. Out of the top 20 albums listed below, only four do not use the N-word, which leave sixteen that do. And that’s a massive problem that must be overcome.
Sylvia Rhone, Antonio (L.A.) Reid, Andre Young, Shawn Carter, Jermaine Dupri Mauldin, Russell Simmons, Sean Combs, and other Black executives – you’ve got to stand for more than this. And if you use the N-word yourselves, read and learn why you shouldn’t. Just as Edgar Bronfman Jr., Lyor Cohen, Sumner Redstone (born Sumner Murray Rothstein), Leslie Moonves, and other top entertainment executives (http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/) who share the same race/ethnic/religious background would not slander – or allow others to slander – themselves, you should not keep a culture of ignorance escalating amongst your own people just because others make it easy for you to do what they would NEVER do to their own. African Americans have a lot to be proud of – but our kids are being smoothly, slowly, and slickly discouraged from knowing and learning that. We’ve avoided using Spike Lee’s now-famous phrase, but we can no longer resist because it’s not only appropriate, but long overdue – WAKE UP! EvenMexico’s President, Vicente Fox, might be basing his opinion of Blacks on what he sees emanating from the rap/hip-hop culture. Unfortunately, it appears he doesn’t know anything about the struggling, fighting, and dying done by the Blacks, which is what enabled so many immigrants, not only from Mexico but from all over the world, to get into America. He needs an education in African-American history as well. For those who may not be aware of Fox, he recently made a comment that “not even Blacks” are willing to do the work that immigrant/illegal Mexicans do. Fox, learn history to avoid making an ass of yourself.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. :
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
If you do take a chance and buy some of the CDs below or if you or your kids already have some of them, the same questions still apply – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the CD overall? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the CD to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, insult, fear, crime? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the CDs?
|LOW – EXCESSIVE|
|1||Mariah Carey||The Emancipation of Mimi||XXXXX|
|2||Bobby Valentino||Disturbing Tha Piece Presents Bobby Valentino||XXXXX|
|3||Mike Jones||Who is Mike Jones?||XXXXX|
|4||50 Cent||The Massacre||XXXXX|
|6||Faith Evans||The First Lady||XXXXX|
|11||[Soundtrack]||Three 6 Mafia Presents Choices II: The Setup||XXXXX|
|12||112||Pleasure & Pain||XXXXX|
|13||Beanie Sigel||The B. Coming||XXXXX|
|14||The Game||The Documentary||XXXXX|
|15||[Soundtrack]||Tyler Perry’s Diary Of A Mad Black Woman||XXXXX|
|16||John Legend||Get Lifted||XXXXX|
|18||Ludacris||The Red Light District||XXXXX|
|19||Smokey Robinson||My World: The Definitive Collection||XXXXX|
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon: “Rebound” [Martin Lawrence]; “The Honeymooners” [Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union]; “Rize” [Documentary]; “The Longest Yard” [Adam Sandler, Chris Rock]; “Stealth” [Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas]; “An Unfinished Life” [Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman]; “Hustle & Flow” [Terrence Howard]; “Pink Panther” [Steve Martin, Beyonce Knowles]; “Four Brothers” [Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin]; “Broken Flowers” [Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright]
Also Coming : DVD Monitoring; Summer 2005 Music Monitoring