RAP CENSORSHIP Essay, Research Paper
RAP SHOULD NOT BE CENSORED!
BY: FARHAN YUSUF
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
WORK CITED LIST
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.