Later on NPR, he explained that listening to other gangsta-rappers "inspired" his own violent lyrics, like Ice-T boasting, "I am a nightmare stalking, psychopath walking." He said that song "put me in the mood when I was in the ghetto just to continuously make music like that." It was inspiring that he mustered the fortitude to confess before Congress.
Loser: David Banner. This rapper with the "Incredible Hulk" stage name (real name: Levell Crump) lived up to his rage-spewing image. He blamed everyone else for his own disgusting lyrics. "Hip-hop is sick because America is sick," he said. "Change the situation in my neighborhood, and maybe I'll get better."
But of course Crump doesn't really want to get better or do better. He wants to continue trotting out the usual poet-of-the-streets bilge: "Rap music is the voice of the underbelly of America. In most cases, America wants to hide the negative that it does to its people. Hip hop is the voice, and how dare America not give us the opportunity to be heard!"
Loser: the music-selling conglomerates. Corporate officials sitting before Congress were unafraid to stand up for lyrics extolling profanity, criminality and sexism. Asked if explicit lyrics by rapper 50 Cent constituted free speech, Doug Morris of Universal Music proclaimed: "Yes. It is not my place in life to tell him what to say."
Warner Music boss Edgar Bronfman said tasteless language ''is in the eye of the beholder.'' (Tell that to Don Imus.) And Phillippe Dauman, the president of Viacom (think MTV and BET), extolled the scummy street poetry: "We have a responsibility to speak authentically to our viewers." Viacom should be authentically rejected by consumers.
Winner: the music-buying public. In a poll of black Americans by The Associated Press and AOL-Black Voices last year, 50 percent of respondents said hip-hop was a negative force in American society. Due to a growing feeling that the gangsta rappers have grown far too negative, rap sales slid a whopping 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, and for the first time in 12 years no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year. If thug music is a sickness, the public seems to be getting immunized.
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