October 19, 2000

Stop Giving Rap a Bad Rap

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Have you heard the song “I’m Outstanding?” If you are one of the few that wasted a minute or two of your time doing so, then I’m sorry. If you are one of the fewer that own it, I hope you regret that you payed more than a cent for for the 1993 album by Shaquille O’Neal. I guess TwIsM (the once up and coming record company) probably felt that its label would sell because Shaq’s name was on the CD. I can’t think of any other reason a record label would want to sign the aforementioned basketball star. However I did see one compliment from MTV Online that said, “Can Shaq flow? No worse than Master P or Puff Daddy.” Did I say compliment?

This brings me to the Allen Iverson controversy. The star Philadelphia 76ers basketball player will not be releasing his debut rap album until this February, yet his lyrics have already begun stirring up controversy.

Last week, Iverson met with civil rights groups about his gay bashing, verbal assaults on women, and other such lyrics on his anticipated album. The civil rights groups want Iverson to change his lyrics in order to prevent children from being exposed to this hateful language.

Iverson refused to change a word.

This week, however, NBA Commissioner David Stern reported that Iverson has finally agreed to tempering his songs. “Allen, by even recording his lyrics, has done a disservice to himself, the Philadelphia 76ers, his teammates, and perhaps all NBA players,” Stern said. This does not make sense.

Why is the NBA commissioner able to change an athlete’s decision about his “work,” while nationally recognized sexuality groups cannot?

It’s probably because athletes do what they want to do when they want to do it. Without getting into an athlete’s obligation towards his/her fans, let me just say that money and lay-ups are obviously the most important things to Iverson.

What about calling Iverson’s actions a “disservice”? First of all, let’s look at what rap is today. Rap is a tremendous, diverse industry, with many different labels, artists, and themes. I have been listening to rap since I was 11, and I have grown to love it for its beats, its rhythm, and its power. Not for its message.

Its message is all just a show. In truth, hardcore rap that talks of guns, murder, and sex does not express the true sentiments of the rappers. Most hardcore rappers don’t practice what they preach. It is a stereotype that they are violent criminals that just happen to have that rhythmic talent. Wyclef Jean once said: “Don’t believe the hype.” Let’s just accept rap as a form of music and not as a form of hate. Hate is wrong; music is entertainment.

If you don’t want to hear offensive lyrics, don’t listen! Society keeps jumping out windows over controversial music pieces. Just because I listen to Eminem doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe in what he is saying. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that he believes in what he is saying!

So can we stop going overboard over some rap CD because it offends people? Everything in this world offends at least someone. If you want to buy a CD, then you should be able to buy it! If Iverson’s CD bothers you, then go spend your hard-earned money on Barney’s Greatest Hits.

My advice, Allen Iverson, don’t change a word. Then again, do you rap like Puff Daddy?

Archived article by Josh Plotnik