Enter a city or US Zip  
Washington DC's Weather
VOL 3. NO. 29 Monday, July 30 - Sunday, August 5, 2001
SIGN UP NOW! FREE Metro Connection email newsletter.

More Explicit Lyrics Mom, Please?

NWA's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton sparked much controversy with its infamous single "F Da Police."

Picture this scenario:
Little Thomas, your sweet prince of a boy, goes to the music store and makes a few purchases. You trust that your darling little angel wouldn't dare bring anything home that wouldn't meet your approval. So as the night goes on, you hear the bass drum and snare emanating from Tommy's room. You enter his room and your ears are assaulted by a barrage of "MF's," "B*tches" this and "H*es" that - along with Tommy doing the requisite "thug bounce" dance and gang sign gestures. What to do? Do you say, "Well, it is just music" or do you snatch Tommy up by his ears and demand he removes that garbage with immediacy?

A lot of parents do neither. The music still gets purchased and, in some cases, the parents end up buying it for their children. No kidding. I've witnessed soccer moms picking up Eminem and Kid Rock for their sweet children. Perhaps they didn't get the memo on the lyrical content of these two guys. With music sharing programs like Napster, kids can simply plug up and download all the G-funked, thug-laced, misogynist music they want. It's a sad reality but in today's age, kids are nearly numb to violence in music. They'll witness more of the same on television and movies. They'll hear foul language and witness sexual suggestiveness in school. These lurid facts of life are nearly unavoidable by young people.

I came up in a household where cursing was an effective tool of communication. My mother (I hope she isn't reading) was fond of using blue language to incite fear and respect. It worked marvelously. In our neighborhood, she's a legend. I'm a good 6 inches taller than her, outweigh her by nearly 100 pounds...and she'd curse you and beat you down with the quickness of a cobra. I learned early on that even a slight protest will get you on her bad side. Moms is crazy nice with her mitts and vocals. She maybe the only person I'm legitimately scared of in the world. Apparently some of my friends are as well. We never once dared to curse in mother's presence. Even if it sounded near to a curse word, we'd be choked out. Yet my mother never once confiscated my music due to the subject matter. Perhaps she never listened to hear the foulness I sometimes bumped on my stereo.

My first purchase of "blue" music was probably in 87. I was 13 going on 14 and I cut a load of grass in my neighborhood. I saved my money often and usually blew it all on the arcade and music. I picked up a single from Philadelphia hip hop icon, Schooly D. PSK, What Does It Mean signaled my first discovery that actual, full-out cursing occurred within hip hop music. Back then the parental advisory label wasn't used. You just picked up your music and off you went. The 1988 release of "Straight Outta Compton" (from N.W.A.) sparked off controversy with its infamous "F Da Police" song. Rap music was the bane of society then. It was a lumbering blob of negativity, violence and hate. It was portrayed as the dragon that came to torch America's hillsides. They only talked about the bad stuff as usual. Let the media of the 80s and 90s tell it, rap music was Satan selling lies to the beat.

I bought it all, good and bad. I purchased rappers from Houston, Atlanta, Florida, Philadelphia and, of course, New York. Some rappers relied on cursing and others barely used curse words. It depended on what the mood of the song was if I found it offensive or gratuitous. There were truly very few artists that overdid it, in my view of it. Usually, most media seemed to surgically attach itself to all the negative aspects of hip hop music. It still never made it to my mother's radar. The occasional news item would be discussed but never much in the way of debates. I think I turned out well for a guy who's lived as I've had to. I never had the urge to "ride dirty fo' my soljahs" or anything like that. Music has always been an escape for me but it wasn't all consuming. I'm fine with or without it. I heard the curses but wasn't ruled by it.

Congress seems to think that hip hop should better monitor the sales of raunchy content. Earlier this year, Rep. Earl Hilliard put it plain that the folks on the Hill aren't familiar with the hip hop industry. They do, however, seem to know that the industry needs to make joint efforts with the Recording Industry Association of America to make certain children aren't assuaged with explicit lyrics and images. I may sound like a big hypocrite here but I can agree with that. Although I believe kids today can determine fact from fantasy, the truth is that some of the stuff going on in music is unnecessary at times. I'm more for rappers improving their skills and quality than totally policing themselves. However, Rep. Hilliard thinks that perhaps music should be given a ratings system somewhat similar to how the movie industry does it. If done properly, little 12-year-old Tommy won't be getting the new "Thug Blood Killahs" album until he's 17 years of age. That would make a lot of parents in middle-class suburbia happy. Sen. Joe Lieberman, vice presidential hopeful in 2000, is in on the act too. He's written a law that would empower the already large Federal Trade Commission even more. The law would allow them to go after companies that "market offensive music to children.

Now this is odd to me. I don't think that these companies are marketing to children; it's just that children aren't discouraged from buying it. Any shorty can roll up in a store and walk out with just whatever they want. Record stores aren't trying to card kids like their buying a pack of loosies. Yet still, if mom or pop dukes aren't stopping you from having it, then why should stores care? Even when I was a juvenile, I never felt as though the industry forced it on me. I made a choice, got my music and thought nothing else of it. I think going after the sales to minors is the wrong approach. If they want to really curb the chances of children purchasing offensive music, then they need to sponsor forums where parents and children can discuss the hows and whys of the game. Simply put, if you don't want your kids to hear it, go in there and throw it out. If you think they can handle it, fine. It's not anything we should be wasting laws and a lot of time on. What they need to do is find out why I had to pay $12.99 for a CASSETTE TAPE! (Sorry...I'm still angry)

I think Tommy will be ok, though. The feeling in his ears will return in about a week. While he's at that, why don't you pass me that new Devin The Dude tape?

To comment on this or any article by D.L. Chandler email confluence@metroconnection.info.

Welcome Calendar Connection What's Up?/Story Ideas/Events Classified Ads Best Black Web Sites Business Services Including our Ujamaa Black Business Directory Our Print Edition Our Advertising Media Kit Contact Us/Feedback Form