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OPINION | DANA KELLEY: Hip-hop hypocrisy

by Dana Kelley | August 18, 2023 at 3:00 a.m.

Who knew that liberal progressives opposed offensive language in songs popular with impressionable young listeners?

The leftists seeking to dominate the Democratic Party's policy platform philosophy are infamous for looking the other way on rap music. They commonly invoke a pandering wink and nod to dismiss the invisible asterisk that denotes the genre's violent, obscene, perverse, racist, sexist, misogynist, pro-gang, pro-gun lyrics.

Those awash in unending tolerance for the vast sea of hip-hop songs flaunting murder, rape, criminality, drugs, promiscuity--even necrophilia--are now outraged by a country tune because of its allegedly racist implications.

Notice the distinction: "Try That in a Small Town" doesn't mention the word "race," nor does it contain any word that refers to race. Yet judging by the backlash and thrashing he's received, you'd think Jason Aldean laced the n-word throughout his song.

No, that practice is reserved for regular rap artist routines. A search returns more than half a million instances of n-word usage.

Since when, one might wonder, does inferred offensive meaning count more than explicit offensive expression?

Welcome to the latest chapter in double-standard double-talk from the Democratic Party Special Interest Coalition's handbook on race-baiting.

For decades, hip-hop artists have been using lyrics so indecent that they could never appear in mainstream media outlets. The instances are literally countless. If I devoted this entire column every week to simply reciting rap lyrics containing the n-word, I couldn't capture them all for decades. Doing the same thing with f-word rap lyrics might take the rest of the century.

What's even more laughable is for anyone to hold up "Try That in a Small Town" as a noteworthy example of a pro-gun song spewing dangerous connotations.

Consider these lines from "Mind of a Lunatic," a Geto Boys track released back in 1989:

The sight of blood excites me, shoot you in the head,

Sit down, and watch you bleed to death;

I hear the sound of your last breath ...

Her body's beautiful, so I'm thinkin rape;

Shouldn't have had her curtains open, so that's her fate ...

She begged me not to kill her, I gave her a rose,

Then slit her throat, and watched her shake till her eyes closed;

Had sex with the corpse before I left her,

And drew my name on the wall like helter skelter ...

Or this lyric from their "Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" single:

A gangsta-a- - n- - - - pulls the trigger

And his partners in the posse ain't tellin' off s- - -,

Real gangsta-a- - n- - - -s don't talk much;

All ya hear is the black from the gun blast ...

In the years since, hip-hop and rap lyrics have continuously glorified guns, crime and deadly violence, even targeting law enforcement, as in Ice-T and Body Count's song "Cop Killer," which included the line: "I'm 'bout to dust some cops off."

Despite the enormous panoply of provocative gunplay language, and the gangland death toll that has plagued so many Black neighborhoods, calls for any accountability have been few and far between from Democratic politicians and liberal activists.

Prosecutors of both political stripes, however, have taken a harder line when rappers wind up entwined in criminal activity themselves. In many trial cases, lyrics have been used as evidence against defendants who wrote or sang them.

Here's what Fani Willis--yes, the same Democratic Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia who recently indicted former president Donald Trump--said pointedly about artist Young Thug and 27 other defendants who are facing racketeering charges for gang violence under indictment by her office: "I have some legal advice. Don't confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used. Or at least get out of my county."

Critics have accused such prosecutors in general, and Willis in particular, of targeting hip-hop artists.

"I'm not targeting anyone," Willis said. "However, you do not get to commit crimes in my county and then decide to brag on it, which you do that for a form of intimidation and to further the gang, and not be held responsible."

Last year, two Black Democratic congressmen introduced a bill to change the federal rules of evidence and disallow admission of violent rap lyrics as evidence against artists in criminal cases. It stalled in committee, but they re-introduced it this past spring. A few states are considering or have enacted similar bills.

Willis is defiant toward those angry over the practice, which has lots of legal precedent, and vowed to continue using it as an effective part of her stated priority of cracking down on gangs.

"Lyrics of skinhead and other white-supremacist groups have been used for decades in racketeering and gang-related prosecutions for hate crimes," said Mike Carlson, whom Willis' recruited to be her department's gang crime specialist and head of major crimes. "Is somebody suggesting we should stop that?"

Celebrating hip-hop and rap as art is fine, because like all artistic expression it's a mosaic comprising good and bad.

But hypocrisy is always in bad form. And even worse when it's rooted in racializing an issue for political gain by fostering additional divisiveness.

Dana D. Kelley is a freelance writer from Jonesboro.

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