RAP CENSORSHIP Essay, Research Paper



Rap should not be censored because everybody has the right

to their freedom of speech, as it is in Section 2 of Charter of Rights

and Freedoms. ?Us as rappers express our thoughts and the whole

world is after us.? (pg. 171, Sexton) Rap has done a lot to our

world, as a result our society has improved. Laws are stated for

music censorship. Rap censorship is wrong, there are cases, songs,

and interview to prove that.

Lot of people think that rap music promotes violence and that

it is negative to the society! While so much emphasis is placed on

the detrimental effects of some rap music, there?s little

acknowledgment of rap?s positive cultural contribution and social


Jive?s KRS-One, known to his community as ?The Teacher?

is just one example of the good work being done. KRS-One now

lectures at universities such as Harvard, Yale, Vassar and Stanford

on his philosophies ?The deepest part of being black is being

African. The deepest part of being African is being human,? he

has started. ?The deepest part of being human is being universal.

And the deepest part of being universal is being balanced. It?s all

according to where to start and stop studying.?

The rap artists have been involved with such organizations as

Stop the Violence, Heal and the National Urban League (for which

KRS-One raised $600,000) One of his projects ?Break the Chain,?

was made into an audiocassette soundtrack with his songs and

spoken words. The project promotes literacy and cultural

awareness and teaches black history.

Pubic Enemy criticized for excessively violent lyrics. Even

they have launched a Black Awareness program. The members

have also raised and contributed money for various causes such as

Urban Development Program, a nationwide program by which

youths build houses for the homeless.

In the States, Public Enemy toured 20 cities in the ?Unity for

Peace? tour and raised money for such local charities as the Boys

and Girls clubs. Chuck D frequently speaks about issues of

empowerment in a lot of universities.

Eazy-E participates with charity groups like the Athletes &

Entertainers for Children and the ?Make A Wish Foundation.?

Eazy-E also filmed and narrated a public-service announcement on

fire safety for the Compton Fire Department.

There a lot of other rapers who work for their communities. Such


The Coup who organized the Mau Mau Rhythm Collective.

Which focus on African-American history and politics.

D.J. Woody Wood of Three Times Dope (3XD) is the project

coordinator for Youth Outreach Adolescent Community AIDS

Project. He also founded the Celebrity AIDS Awareness

Project (CAAP), a national AIDS education program.

Doug E Fresh was a spokesperson for Voter Jam 94, a

campaign for black and Latino youth. He works with the New

York Board Of Education and speaks at high schools about

issues of confidence and self-esteem

Ahmad speaks at schools and centers such as Ofman

Learning Center, where runaways and gang members try to

make a fresh start.

Grave Diggaz also can be found talking to kids at school and

youth centers.

MC Eiht participates in performing and playing basketball

games with well know athletics to benefit youth centers. Such

as The Truce Foundation in Las Vegas.

There are also many record companies who help society out:

Dangerous Records, uses rap to promote peace by releasing

some albums about street violence. They have given $5,000 to

the Stamps Youth Foundation, a Los Angeles-based

organization that works with gang members trying to change

their lives.

Another label, Priority Records, has joined with Los Angeles

radio station Power 106 to compile an album that will help fund

the building of performing-arts center.

There are some laws for music censorship. Which is benefit

to rappers.

For the most part there is technically no such thing as ?music

censorship? Censorship is a very harsh word especially when it

comes to popular music. Many musical artists claim to be

censored by radio stations, religious and community groups,

retailers and even their own record labels. They claim their rights

and freedoms have been violated.

The Freedom of Speech read as follows:

?Congress shall make no law representing an

establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise

thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or

of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition

the Government for a redress of grievances.?

Music is not censored on the basis of art, it is censored on the

basis of obscenity. If a work of art, music, or literature is found to

be obscene – then it can be subject to legal censorship. Again, that

only applies to the government. The courts don’t have the right to

force Wal-Mart to carry an album.

You have become the victim of attempted censorship, an

effort to prevent information from reaching the public. It is a

violation of freedom of the press, both of which are guaranteed by

the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Here are a number of cases which have result in the arrest of

shop owners and banned some albums.

January, 1990

In one of the most famous cases of music censorship, police

in Dade County, Florida set up a sting to arrest three retailers

selling copies of a record by 2 Live Crew to children under the age

of 18. Objections to 2 Live Crew started with the break-through of

their hit “Me So Horny.” Similar prosecutions regarding 2 Live

Crew record sales happen in Alabama and Tennessee. No

prosecutions result in standing convictions. Members of 2 Live

Crew were also prosecuted for performing the material live in



Members of the rap group N.W.A. receive a letter from the

FBI saying the agency did not appreciate the song “Fuck The

Police.” Law enforcement groups all over the country agree.

April, 1990

A Florida grand jury determines that four rap albums

(including “Freedom of Speech” by Ice-T) are legally obscene.

Area retailers quickly pull the records from the shelves to avoid


In 1992 when 2 Live Crew put out an album ?As nasty as

they want to be,? within days, all retail stores in Broward Country

ceased selling the record. 2 Live Crew brought this action under

42 USC 1983, seeking an injection and declaration of their rights.

Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973). To be obscene

there must be proof of all three of the following factors:

1) The average person, applying contemporary community

standards, would find that the work taken as a whole, appeals

to the prurient interest.

2) Measured by contemporary community standards the work

depicts or describes, in a patently offensively way, sexual

conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law.

3) The work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic,

political, or scientific value.

The US Supreme Court has defined prurient as ?material

having a tendency to excite lustful thoughts? Roth v. U.S., 354

U.S. 476 (1957). Nasty?s lyrics and the titles of its songs are replete

with references to female and male genitalia, human sexual

execration, oral-anal contact, fellatio, group sex, sexual positions,

sadomasochism, the turgid state of the male sexual organ,

masturbation cunnilingus, sexual intercourse, and the sounds of


Mike Kinsley: Six sheriff deputies burst into a record store in Fort

Lauderdale this afternoon, handcuffed and arrested

the owner. His crime? Selling a record album to an

undercover cop.

Omar: Freedom of choice. Freedom of speech.

Mike: The album was called ?As Nasty as they Wana Be? by 2

Live Crew. Bestseller over 1.7 million sold. On Wednesday

Florida federal Judge ruled it obscene. Quote, ?An appeal to

the lois not the intellect?

Omar: There are some 600 words in the album which are either –

most people would consider dirty, obscene, and filthy.

Mike: A 2 Live Crew is not available in a gym locker room of a

Catolic school. The lyrics are not written on the bathroom

wall. If some body does not want to listen to 2 live Crew they

don?t have too!

Omar: The owner was arrested for selling it not to a child but to an


Is rap censorship a crime? Here are some opinions and facts

about the rap censorship and 2 Live Crew.

Four hundred years ago, when black slave were brought to

America, Africans who spoke the same language were separated

from each other. Censoring rap music is just this same form of


Rap is the number-one selling form of music today. Rap has

brought black kids a new sense of pride. Rap has brought black

kids and white kids closer together. Thanks to rap, white kids are

gaining a better understanding and a new respect for black culture.

Rap has done nothing but bring people together. So, what?s the


?It?s people who don?t understand the music or the culture

that are creating problems.? says Chuck D, ?2 Live Crew has been

around since mid-eighties, but as long as black kids were buying

their records, nobody said a thing. As soon as white kids started

buying them, and MTV started playing them, now suddenly we?ve

got a problem. This hypocrisy makes me mad.?

2 Live Crew sings about sex, a natural part of life.

Advertisers use it every day. What?s next? Playboy magazine?

How about Muscle and Fitness magazine? It has a girl in bikini on

the cover: Lets bust her!

You can?t slap the right hand without slapping the left. Same

with 2 Live Crew. If Clay were black, would they go after him?

How about Eddie Murphy or is he to powerful. What we are

seeing today isn?t only censorship, but also clear discrimination.

As long as I was robbin? my own kind

The policeman paid me no mind

Then I started robbin? the white folks

Now I?m in the pen with soap on a rope

Different subject same message.

?Cop Killer? a song by Ice-T was discussed about. It was not

banned at all.

We, as members of the Chicago Police Department and

members of their families, are appalled and offended that you

and your company are willing to promote the Ice-T song ?Cop


We are urging you to remove this song from the record

stores and the media. Until such time, we intend to boycott any

and all products, movies, and amusement parks, such as your

Six Flags, that are owned and operated by Time Warner.

With all the turmoil in the world today this on promotes

more civil unrest.

If you continue to promote this song, rest assured that

you will be held liable and accountable for officers that are

killed as a result of subjects using this song as a plea in their


June 23/1992 By the Chicago Police Department

We have received many complaints from policeman, their

families, and others about the song ?Cop killer.? We are

threatened with a boycott.

These people don?t understand. True, this song is crap.

But what do you except? We are in the crap business.

When the rap group came to us with this song, we said:

?Boy, is this crap. It should really sell.? And we were right.

Hey, if Mozart had written stuff like this, instead of just

talking dirty at parties, he wouldn?t have died without a


Naturally, we are sympathetic to the feelings of


If someone put out a record encouraging people to kill

executives at Time Warner, I?m sure our wives and children

would be hysterical. We?d probably sue. But then, we are a

big, powerful media corporation and you ain?t, so tough

tootsies, coppers.

In conclusion, we will resist all efforts to impede free

expression and our rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of

happiness, and the marketing of any crap that will sell.

God bless America.

Now, call security and tell them not to let any cops in the


Response on June 23/1992

Lyrics from ?Cop Killer? by Ice-T

I got my black shirt on

I got my black gloves on

I got my ski mask on…

I got my twelve-gauge sawed off.

I got my headlights turned off.

I?m about to bust some shots off.

I?m about to dust some cops off.


Cop killer, I know your family?s grievin?

Cop killer, but tonight we get even…

My adrenaline?s pumpin??.

I got my stereo bumpin?

I am about to kill somethin?

A pig stop me for nuthin?!


Die, die, die, pig, die!

Fuck the police!

(The last line was repeated dozen times)

The song [Cop Killer] is fiction, not fact. At no point do I go

out and say, ?Let’s do it.? I am singing in the first person as a

character who is fed up with police brutality. I ain’t never

killed no cop. I felt like it a lot of times. But I never did it.?–

Ice-T, National Review, July 20, 1992.

Interview Ice-T. Explaining that is song are just his own


?I write a few songs that are purely for adult entertainment

and the whole world is after me.?

Today?s society is based on sex-just look at how many strip

bars and how much pornographic literature is available. Why

condemn me-a black artist and entrepreneur-for my particular

brand of adult entertainment?

I own and operate one of the largest independent recording

companies around, and that could be why I was singled out.

People need to realize that I?m not in stores with guns to

customer?s head forcing them to buy my albums. It?s freedom of

choice, and that?s what America is suppose to be about.

It seems to me that priorities are all in the wrong order. We

have an outrageous amount of people sleeping in the streets and

without anything to eat, but we find rappers more important.

Our environment is slowly being pulled apart, and we put

people in jail for a bunch of words. Kids can?t read or write, but

that?s not enough. Sometimes I wonder what the starving people in

Ethiopia would think about the money we wasted on taking this to


We have placed warning stickers on our albums and put two

versions of each album-an adult and a G version-in order to satisfy

the public. And as far as I know we?re that only band that does


We know that today they are trying to censor rap and

tomorrow it would be classical music or theater or …

November 5, 1990

This survey was taken two weeks a go. There were thirty

volunteers to fill this survey out. Twenty two of them wrote rap

should not be censored. The other eight said it should. There were

a lot of interesting comments from people who were against

censorship. Such as, ?If we censorship rap we should censor

everything offensive.? ?It is a way to express yourself and

entertain people too.? ?Freedom of speech.? ?Who am I to stop

people to listen what they want!? ?Freedom to express yourself

anyway you want.?

Censoring rap is against the law! If you don?t want to listen

you don?t have too. Rappers have every right to express

themselves in any way they want to. Rap music has been positive

to society. Rap music has informed people about black culture!

People always find out what is the bad thing about rap through the

media. The never find out what good it does. Rap should not be





Censored, David Burden, Greenhouse: Press Inc.: Sandiego,1990.

Censored, Carl Jenson, Seven Hories: New York, 1996.

Censorship, Terry O?Niel, Greenhouse: Minnesota, 1985.

Violence in the Media, David L Bendor, Greenhouse: Sandiego,


Rap on Rap, Adam Sexton, Bell Publish: USA, 1995.


Interview with Ice-T.

Laws for Censorship in, Laws, Gesse Gayle, USA, 1997.

(Reader Digest Book).

Cases of Mike Kensley.

Cases of 2 Live Crew.



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