This is BN-W’s first music monitoring session and we can honestly say that it’s been a venture pulling this one off. First of all, getting the CDs proved to be a challenge because we are not really rap/hip-hop “buying” listeners – and we didn’t plan to start now, especially under these circumstances as it relates to the N-word. We managed to beg and borrow (but not steal!) copies from a few friends – thanks for helping, you know who you are. As we mentioned in our BN-W #8, it was brutally disappointing listening to all those CDs and hearing the self-hatred, which they don’t even recognize, just spewing out with ease from these young rap/hip-hoppers mouths. Nevertheless, we decided to take the high road and also focus on and find CDs that are not necessarily as popular but are very much worth listening to. With that in mind, we’re going to start our monitoring session with those CDs that are just nice to listen to without drama and a lot of confusion. [ NOTE: For lyrics, in addition to the www.yricsbox.com we gave you previously, there’s also the www.lyricsondemand.com Web site, which is a little simpler to navigate through. But both seem to be pretty good.]
CDs – Worth Going to the Store and Buying
|Ray Charles||Genius Loves Company|
|Jill Scott||Beautifully Human|
|Wayman Tisdale||Hang Time|
|Miles Davis||Kind of Blue|
|Tantra Lounge||Volume 2|
|Kindred the Family Soul||Surrender to Love|
|Film Soundtrack||Love Actually|
[The official BN-W CD Monitoring session of Billboard magazine’s “ Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” is farther down in this document.]
Although we don’t give content critique for our film monitoring, it’s a little more difficult not to do so with the music 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, 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 use (10+) of the N-word that we monitored are really just not worth listening to. Quite a few as mentioned in BN-W #8 (Lloyd Banks, Terror Squad, and Lloyd) say the N-word ten times on the first track alone.
Mario Winans, an R&B singer, uses it about 14 times on his album. Kanye West is trying to get into spreading social awareness, which we can appreciate, but his excessive use of the N-word makes you wonder how much he really knows about his history if he doesn’t know better than to use that word, so we can’t even give him an unconditional plug. Outkast’s Andre 3000 doesn’t use the N-word on his side of the two-set CD, but Big Boi goes for his. Just so you’re aware, usually along with the N-word usage, many also have the following language in excess: hoes, bitches, material things (cars, jewels, etc.), fu_king, smoking weed, drinking alcohol, and sniffing cocaine. One positive with some of the rap music is that the rappers/hip-hoppers don’t seem to be doing as much sampling. 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. 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.
If you do take a chance and buy these CDs, 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?
Below is BN-W’s first CD monitoring session, which includes 20 CDs that are from Billboard magazine’s “ Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” for the week of August 28, 2004. A few we didn’t monitor fully or at all and the reasons are listed in the chart. The monitor shows a range (none , low [1-2], moderate [3-5], high [6-9], excessive [10+]) of how often the N-word was used throughout the CDs.
|LOW – EXCESSIVE [1+]|
|1||Shyne||Godfather Buried Alive||XXXXX|
|2||Mobb Deep||Amerikaz Nightmare||XXXXX|
|3||Lloyd Banks||The Hunger For More||XXXXX|
|4||Various Artists||Now 16||NOT MONITORED, BUT FOUR ARTISTS – D12, PETEY PABLO, JUVENILE, CHINGY – USE THE N-WORD EXCESSIVELY ON THEIR CURRENT ALBUMS WHICH HAVE SONGS INCLUDED ON THIS “NOW 16” ALBUM|
|5||Lil Wayne||Tha Carter||XXXXX|
Kiss Of Death
|8||Houston||It’s Already Written||NOT FULLY MONITORED BUT HEARD N-WORD USED THREE TIMES ON “I LIKE THAT” WITH RAPPER CHINGY|
|9||B.G.||Life After Cash Money||XXXXX|
|10||Anthony Hamilton||Comin’ From Where I’m From||XXXXX|
|11||Terror Squad||True Story||XXXXX|
|12||Lil Scrappy||The King of Crunk & BME||XXXXX|
|14||Kevin Lyttle||Kevin Lyttle||NOT FULLY MONITORED – DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING ACCENT AT TIMES BUT PROBABLY NO USE OF THE N-WORD|
|15||Alicia Keys||The Diary of Alicia Keys||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|16||2Pac||Live||NOT MONITORED – BUT HE WAS A BIG SUPPORTER OF THE N-WORD SO IT’S LIKELY TO BE EXCESSIVE|
|17||Crime Mob||Crime Mob||XXXXX|
|18||Kanye West||The College Dropout||XXXXX|
|19||Juvenile||Juve the Great||XXXXX|
|20||Beenie Man||Back to Basics||NOT FULLY MONITORED – DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING ACCENT AT TIMES BUT PROBABLY NO USE OF THE N-WORD|
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon: “The Cookout” [Tim Meadows, Eve]; “Mr. 3000” [Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett]; “Hair Show” [Monique, Kellita Smith]; “Shall We Dance” [Jennifer Lopez, Richard Gere]; “Taxi” [Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon]; “Asunder” [Blair Underwood, Michael Beach]; “An Unfinished Life” [Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford]; “Fat Albert” [Kenan Thompson, Aaron Carter]; Independent Films: “Brother to Brother”; “Hotel Rwanda”
Also Coming: Historical Timeline – 2-part; DVD Monitoring; names and contact information for studio head honchos (aka the “greenlight” overseers); and more!