Monday, June 12, 2006


We know now that Callmedave Cameron is seeking gentle nodding for his questioning of rap lyrics (not, let us be clear, a call for censorship). Meanwhile, in the US, he'd find support from Bill Cosby.

Cosby has been moaning about hip-hop for quite a while. Dr. Marc Lamont Hill wrote a piece offering a contrary veiwpoint, which has led to an interesting couple of weeks for Hill.

Hill says Cosby called the dean of his college, to "express concern", and then:

Over the next few days, I did a series of radio interviews where I discussed the op-ed. In each interview, I reiterated both my respect for Dr. Cosby and my critique of his “Call Out” tour. Last Tuesday, I did a show in Atlanta with a Black conservative who decided that “he would put me in my place.” Over the next hour, I proceeded to punish him with reasoned arguments and strong examples.

A few minutes after the interview ended, I received a call from a friend in Atlanta. He told me, “Go on the internet and tune into the station. Bill Cosby just got on the radio and he’s talking about you!”

I didn’t bother to ask how Bill Cosby, who I was sure wasn’t in Atlanta, knew that I was on the radio discussing him. Instead, I asked what he was saying about me. He replied, “He’s calling you a liar and a hustler. He’s saying that you have a ‘hip-hop website’ and that you can’t be trying to help Black people with a ‘hip-hop website’”

Words can’t convey the level of frustration that I felt at that moment. Why could he have just called in why I was on the air? I tuned back into the station to hear the end of Cosby’s diatribe. By this point, he and the host (who cosigned everything that Cosby said) were criticizing “the hustlers” who write about hip-hop and critique him at the same time. He explicitly named Michael Eric Dyson and me as two of the hustlers.

Hill managed to get onto the show via phone, but felt the host wasn't entirely keen to give him any airtime to counter Cosby's claims:

The next day, Cosby calls my college again. What did he want? I won’t say in public. But one thing is for sure: he didn’t call to speak to me.

Meanwhile, with the King of mainstream black entertainers fighting a war on hip-hop culture on one front, the Queen is also engaged in a battle, as Oprah again denies she has a blanket dislike of the genres.

Oprah attempted to fight back after a couple of weeks when hip-hop stars suggested she treated them badly:

Ludacris says some of his comments about hip-hop lyrics were unfairly edited out of Oprah's show when he went on late last year to promote "Crash." Ice Cube says Winfrey insulted him several years ago after inviting castmembers of "Barbershop" on her program but excluding him.

"Maybe she's got a problem with hip-hop," Ice Cube told FHM magazine recently. "She's had damn rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show. And if I'm not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?"

"I don't have an opinion, because I am my own person," Oprah said on [LA Reid's] birthday party's red carpet. "I respect other people's rights to do whatever they want to do in music and art and whatever. So I am my own person, they are their own people. I respect their rights.

"I am a woman who has worked very hard for my status in the world and as a human being," she added. "I don't want to be marginalized by music or any form of art. ... I feel rap is a form of expression, as is jazz. I'm not opposed to rap. I'm opposed to being marginalized as a woman."

Of course, as you beetle in to a party given by the head of, erm, DefJam, it's not the best time to develop a coherent argument - although she also commands an hour or so of primetime talk show and doesn't manage it there, either. But "I'm not opposed to rap as it's a bit like jazz, but I don't want to be marginalized as a woman"? It suggests all sorts of questions that might make for an interesting TV programme. If you let anybody with a differing viewpoint on it.