First off, let me tell you that I like rap music. As I said in a previous post, I unabashedly love the King Fantastic Remix of “Drive It Like You Stole It.” On the other end of the spectrum, I also have a huge appreciation for artists like Macklemore who use the genre to tackle issues like drug abuse and homosexuality [while sounding good doing it].
I will also be one of the first to admit that rap music has also preached the messages of commercialism and misogyny, and that is not something I can get behind. Every now and then, however, a rap artist will push those boundaries enough for the media to get attention [and no, I don’t mean LL Cool J providing the bridge to that song
about racism that’s kinda racist].
Out of the many news sites that reported on this, I chose to go with Perez Hilton, because not only have I never linked to his site, but he starts his article with the words “This is concerning!!!” and files it under “Icky Icky Poo.” He reports on the new track by Rick Ross, Future, and Rocko titled “You Don’t Even Know It (U.O.E.N.O.), in particular the third and fourth lines of his verse:
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
If there is a person out there who denies that this is a direct reference to date rape, I would like to meet them so that I can shake my head at them in disappointment.
This largely caught the attention of the media due to women’s rights groups protesting the track, particularly the group UltraViolet protesting outside a NY Reebok store [the rapper had appeared in an ad for their shoes]. This in turn led to the brand dropping Ross, which finally resulted in a formal apology. Pitchfork featured it in its entirety, and it reads as follows:
Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world. So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets. As an artist, one of the most liberating things is being able to paint pictures with my words. But with that comes a great responsibility. And most recently, my choice of words was not only offensive, it does not reflect my true heart. And for this, I apologize. To every woman that has felt the sting of abuse, I apologize. I recognize that as an artist I have a voice and with that, the power of influence. To the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it. To my fans, I also apologize if I have disappointed you. I can only hope that this sparks a healthy dialogue and that I can contribute to it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad that Ross apologized, and the statement above says some really good things. The problem, of course, is that these lyrics exist to begin with, especially in light of his earlier explanation in an interview with New Orleans radio station Q93:
“It was misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term ‘rape’ wasn’t used. And I would never use the term ‘rape’ in my records.”
He also said:
“I feel like us being artists, that’s our job to clarify the sensitive things and the things that we know really need to be clarified, such as a situation like this.”
These are all things that make sense and have clearly been well thought-out. You know what isn’t well-thought out, though? Drugging a woman and then having your way with her and/or writing lyrics that glorify this act. I’m in no way implying that Ross is guilty for any sort of similar action [rappers have been known to embellish their lyrics more than a little], but I am blaming him for adding to what the internet has described as a “rape culture.”
Ross’ verse will be replaced by one rapped by six potential artists, but what’s been done is done. It’s not merely that thousands have already listened to this track in its original form, and probably still are, it’s the idea that this was approved by Ross, fellow rappers future and Rocko, the execs who handle their label, and so on and so forth. Not every person is going to be scrutinizing each song verse by verse, but enough people read the words and heard the song and thought nothing of it. That is awful. That needs to change.