So, I was going to leave the whole Rick Ross "date rape" lyric controversy alone. I was happy to see that people were making it very clear that they didn't appreciate what was said. Even a radio station in Michigan took a stance by stating they would not play certain music because they did not want to promote what was in the music.
I kept hearing comments from Rick Ross and others that bothered me, claiming it was a "misunderstanding" (you said specifically
what you meant in that line), but once again, I wasn't going to say anything.
However, I then heard the comments Meek Mill (who in all fairness is signed Ross' MMG label) gave regarding the issue, in which he claimed "raps always talking about killing, drugs, all types of stuff...It's imaginary visual. If a writer writes about somebody getting raped in a movie, that mean he a rapist or he want girls to get raped? No. He just wrote about that in a movie." He also mentions how other artists, such as Biggie, rapped about raping people and "throwing them over the bridge" and how it is just because of social media and the ease with which people can voice their opinions that this is an issue. Although I'm completely offended that he would even reduce hip hop music to simply "killing and drugs", that's not even the issue I'm going to tackle (but for anybody who might be reading this and is not very familiar with hip hop, it is MUCH more than that). Since advocates of Rick Ross want to claim that this is all a "misunderstanding" and that Ross is getting such unfair treatment, let's dissect this situation a little more.
First, we need to establish that, yes, there is a huge problem with misogyny and disrespect toward women in both hip hop and mainstream culture. I have voiced this several times on the blog and will continue to. This is not something that only Rick Ross is guilty of and that should be kept in mind when discussing the lyric in question. That said, let's look at the context with which many of the rape lyrics people have mentioned were actually used. Most of them had to do with some type of revenge or lashing out against a specific person and was used more for shock value than anything else. I want to make this very clear: I AM NOT CONDONING ANY OF THESE LYRICS. However, the context that they are used it does give them different meaning and could be the reason why these artists got what people are considering "passes" as opposed to Rick Ross.
Eminem's name has been mentioned several times (not surprisingly) since this became an issue and it is because he has several mentions of rape in his song (specifically in the early part of his career). Once again, while not condoning what he insinuated by any means, a lot of these had to do with the highly publicized controversy he had with his mom and ex-wife. His rage toward them were at an all time high and became very apparent in the songs he recorded (I had to remove "Kim" from my playlist completely). He also has a song titled "As The World Turns" where he raps "All I wanted to do was rape the b*tch and snatch her purse." A very disturbing line, but we should factor in that the song is littered with ridiculous comments, impossible acts, and obvious pranks that were all part of Eminem's twisted sense of humor. Just before that line, he also claims that he was "doped up off coke and smack". He also mentions earlier in the song that he killed his guinea pig and stuck him in the microwave, to establish the psychotic nature of the song. While they can be very offensive, there are several references that obviously make the entire song and situation fictional. That is just two examples (I'm sure there are numerous) of how Eminem used rape in his songs, but in any instance, pay attention to the context in which it is being used.
Meek Mill also mentioned that Biggie had a line about rape and throwing somebody over a bridge. Once again, let's look at the full picture. The song is called "What's Beef" in which Biggie is basically taking on all challengers to his personal safety and informing them that, essentially, he won't go down without a fight. He even goes as far as to say (and this is a major paraphrase) that there are people on his payroll that will kidnap people associated with anybody trying to bring harm upon him, sexually violate them, and throw them over the bridge. This is not any random person on the street and it doesn't necessarily have to be a woman. Again, a disturbing line, but the context (right or wrong) is of the "I'll get you before you get me" mentality. DMX had a similar line in which he claims he will rape one of his adversary's daughters. I never utter those words when "It's Dark And Hell Is Hot" is playing, and it clearly displays some of the demons that we all know DMX battles, but it is the same notion as the Biggie line. Think of it the way Jay-Z mentioned it: "If you kill my dog, I'mma kill your cat." Do I think any of this is right or okay? Absolutely not. Especially as a man of faith. Yet, I can understand why people were so much more offended by the Rick Ross lyric than these I just mentioned.
Contrary to the other lyrics we just covered, Rick Ross said plainly, "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." So, what is the context of this? All Ross says in the line before this is that he'll "Die for these Reeboks," so there is no sort of story or explanation as to why Molly came into play. This leads the listener (or at least me) to believe that he's just out on Friday or Saturday night at the club with Molly's in his pocket, looking for an unattended drink to put it in. After the Molly has set in, he then goes home and has sex with this woman and she doesn't even know it; meaning it wasn't consensual! The reason for the uproar and the reason that people were so enraged by these comments as opposed to the lines mentioned earlier in this post is because this could be any young lady in any club or party across America (heck, the world). It was said so casually within the context of many other random lines that people had to react. The issue of date rape has long been a cause for concern and this line was a reminder of that. So, it makes sense to me why people, especially women, would be greatly offended by this.
That line can't be taken out of context. There was nothing before or after to give it any further meaning. They are what they are and the fact that people are taking him to task about it is a good thing. Will this have any significant impact on his career? Probably not. Will artists be more aware and sensitive to what they put in their songs? I certainly hope so. Maybe it starts with this and then we will start to look at some of the violent lyrics that Meek Mill pointed out (black-on-black crime lyrics is something else I have a major issue with). We have a lot of work to do before we make significant change, but this could be a start. Ross and every artist should be held accountable for what they put in their raps. Sure, there is freedom of speech and creative license, but we can't let such overtly offensive and troubling statements just slip under the rug. Whether rappers want to own it or not, words do have power and there are kids looking up to them that are taking their direction. They need to help push them toward success and away from destruction of themselves and others. Let's hold each other accountable. That's the only way to truly make a difference.
What are your thoughts? Are people making too big a deal out of these lyrics? Were other artists given too much of a "pass" for their lyrics? What else can be done to hold artists accountable? Leave all thoughts and comments below. Send any e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Update (4/15/13):
Just to be fair, this is the official apology (that should have come out as soon as this became a controversy) issued by Rick Ross:"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." —William Roberts (a.k.a "Rick Ross”)Source: Billboard