Misogynistic, homophobic, hateful, racist and an all-around bad influence on our children—the list of grievances against hip hop is a long one. Perhaps that’s why so many celebrities have an issue with the genre. In 2009, Gladys Knight said she isn’t a fan of the genre or the vulgarity that comes with it. Oprah Winfrey had a beef with several prominent rappers in 2006, after they claimed she mistreated them on her show. And last week, it was actress Ashley Judd who came down hard on rappers, citing its “rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’” as the “contemporary soundtrack of misogyny” in her memoirs. (Of course, her remarks against hip hop might be a publicity stunt aimed to sell books, but who are we to judge? Girl’s gotta eat.)
Seemingly in an effort to prove Ms. Judd right, rapper Gucci Mane was arrested on assault charges last week after he pushed a woman from a moving car. Actually, that’s not the whole story. He allegedly offered her breakfast, then tried to give her $150 for sex and THEN pushed her out of the car. (See? Totally different.) But in all seriousness, Gucci Mane’s antics and the antics of other boneheaded rappers like him are why self-righteous actresses everywhere feel justified writing off the entire group as sexist, dangerous a-holes.
Although guys like Gucci give hip hop a bad name, keep in mind that every genre has its bad eggs. Remember that time Casey Royer (ex-Social D) was arrested for overdosing in front of his 12-year-old son? How about Christina Aguilera, who was arrested recently after becoming so intoxicated she couldn’t remember her own address? Or what about last month, when Screeching Weasel frontman Ben Weasel punched a girl in the face during a show? Yes, Gucci Mane’s actions were deplorable. But rap is far from the only genre that’s home to some troubled musicians.
And let’s not forget all of the great things that hip hop artists do. Dead Prez, Talib Kweli and KRS-One have always been known for their socially-conscious lyrics. Trey Songz and Big Boi are teaming up with NYC Mayor Bloomberg for an anti-truancy campaign. M.I.A. is using some of that “Paper Planes” money to help build schools in war-torn Liberia. And Snoop Dogg and P-Diddy supported YouthAIDS—an AIDS-awareness group affiliated with MTV that created hip PSAs about the disease. In fact, that’s what started all this trouble in the first place—Judd didn’t think Snoop was a good enough person to warn people about AIDS. Seriously, get off your high horse, girl!
Bottom line: Be it rock, pop, rap, 8-bit or shoegaze, every genre is going to have good guys and bad guys. There’s just one important thing to take away from all the turmoil, and it’s this: don’t get into a car with Gucci Mane.