by: Rahul Reddy
I'm not the biggest Mainstream Hip-Hop hater out there. In fact, I think Game's Documentary might be the best album all year, and it's only February! However, I find the outlets and popular representation of hip-hop pathetic. It’s like Hip-Hop is used to make minorities in America look even scarier to Conservative America. Little do they know, true Hip-Hop is just poetry in motion, but that’s not the picture America gets. I normally didn't mind that most of the world never gets to hear the dopest shit out there, I kind of liked being in the "know" as far as music goes. Mainstream Hip-Hop Radio might be best example of how whack Hip-Hop can get.
Hip-Hop was formed as a counterculture art form, and its popularity obviously led corporations to invest in the culture. Mainstream Hip-Hop Radio is pure capitalism at its finest: non-stop commercials for useless products and repeated music that means nothing. The more a song is played is probably not because of how dope it is, but most likely due to the money behind it. Hip-Hop radio is infamous for playing the same 5 songs every hour. It's not even fun listening to different stations; I think we've all experienced switching through stations and hearing that same damn song. Besides Mainstream Hip-Hop's lack of creativity in music selection, the music they select catering to 14-16 year old white girls is obviously not as dope as it could be. So we get the same 5 horrible joints over and over, and that’s one of the main reasons I don’t listen to the radio anymore. I'd rather watch Rap City with Mad Linx (who sucks by the way) so I can at least see some nice cars and attractive women along with the horrible song. I can at least mute that shit! So we know Mainstream Hip-Hop Radio is nothing to be proud of, music wise, (I'm still a fan of Star and Buckwild's humor sans the Aaliyah scandal). I never ever thought racism would be added to the list of characteristics of Mainstream Hip-Hop Radio.
The Tsunami disaster is the worst tragedy in human history. Period. Close to 200,000 people died, that's 50,000 more people than the nuclear bomb. 12 nations, thousands dead, it's obviously a source of intense passion. Why would anyone in their minds poke fun at the worst tragedy ever? Enter Hot 97, America's biggest hip-hop station. The morning show's main host is a female named Miss Jones and features an Asian host named Miss Info. Miss Jones is the main event per say, and dropped one of the most racist and tasteless joints in the history of music. I'm not sure if she was responsible for the infamous "USA for Indonesia" jingle, but the fact she was okay with playing it and her following comments of support, she definitely deserves blame.
The track? It's garbage, it mimics "We are the World," a song meant for hope, peace, and prosperity. On the track are some selected singers, one imitating Michael Jackson singing about the little boys lost in the tsunami disaster. Some of the lyrics include "You can hear God say Swim you Bitches, Swim" and "your children will be sold on child slavery." Obviously this is some of the vilest shit ever on a radio station. If this wasn’t enough, this track was played REPEATEDLY. Come on, if you're gonna f*ck up, repeatedly f*cking up is like still stabbing a dead body, it’s just overkill. Ms. Info, an Asian host on Ms. Jones’s morning show tried to stand her ground saying the track should not have been played. First off, mad props to the homegirl Ms. Info for doing her best to stop such racist stupidity to get on the air. Show contributor Todd Lynn was quoted to saying he was going to kill some Asians. Ok now stop there for a second. Think about that out loud, Hip-Hop's representative station is allowing for this kinda ridiculousness?! A track that is racist against Asians and hypocritical against Hip-Hop's stance on Michael Jackson, this kinda shit should get people riled up. Oh, it did.
The news of the racist newscast spread through the internet like wild fire. Cats like me out here in the West Coast not only got to read about the heinous acts from Hot 97, but mp3s are available of the song and the accompanying trashy words from Ms. Jones’s staff. Emmis Broadcasting (Hot 97’s corporate pops) was facing a lot of heat. Hip-Hop heads like me were signing every single petition possible to get Ms. Jones and her whole staff killed off the air faster than a snitch in the mob. Instead of proper justice, Hip-Hop as a culture looks even more shit with a two week suspension to Ms. Jones. Some called it a paid vacation, and these actions even further again angered people like me.
Now the difficulty of attacking a radio station from an artist standpoint is they need the exposure. Hot 97 provides the biggest market of hip-hop listeners in the world, New York City. I hoped someone with clout in the industry like Jay-Z or Eminem would step up and condemn the station, but obviously cause of monetary interests they didn't. Jin, an Asian emcee, with a flopped album came through though. On the "Tsunami Response Song," Jin not only attacks Hot 97 for being racist like Archie Bunker but also because of their whack mainstream hip-hop playing ways! I was pleasantly surprised, if you want to check out the joint click here. Honestly, Jin being the only artist willing to put their careers on the line, it makes Hip-Hop look even worse. However, actions from artists and activists like Jin did force some firings at Hot 97.
Todd Lynn and Rick Del Gado were fired because of their racist comments on air. I still don't think that's enough. Miss Jones still gets to keep her show, and the upper echelon at Hot 97 were left unscathed. I think a ridiculously racist track like "USA for Indonesia" being played more than once had to have something to do with upper management. What's sad was the fan's reactions to Miss Jones’s firing. Hot 97 started to air calls of support while her show was on suspension. First off, allowing idiots who somehow thought it was "all in fun" to play that joint does not shine brightly on the station, in fact it makes Hip-Hop as a culture look even worse. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech, if you are broadcasting to a wide audience and representing a culture, you owe it to everybody to not be racist! You'd think that would be something the people at Hot 97 would know about, seeing as how every KUCI staffer I know is pretty verse in the OPI standards.
The saddest part of this whole mess was how bad it made Hip-Hop look. Instead of people knowing about all the tribute concerts for the Tsunami efforts like ones thrown by Ms. Info (word up ma!) and M.O.P., we only hear about the idiocy from a few idiots. Hip-Hop as a whole did it’s best to send money over to aid the disaster, but the world only heard what a few racists had to say. Mainstream Hip-Hop looks even more ridiculous which is fine, but at the cost of Hip-Hop as a culture looking bad. No 2 week suspension or late firing can make up for that. The folks at Hot 97 donated Ms. Jones and her staff's 2 week salary to Tsunami aid, and honestly that’s not enough. I think 10 million dollars would be a better amount because it would be big enough to show that Hot 97 cares. Obviously what they've done shows that they don't care, and as New York City Council Member John Liu stated "too little, too late." It’s hard to make an impact as a hip-hop listener; I thought the best way I could help was writing this article. Essentially, punishing stations like Hot 97 has nothing to do with punishing them morally; they’ve proven the only thing that matters to them is their profits. So why don't you turn your radio dial to indie stations in your area, they'll drop doper hip-hop without the ads, payola, and racism. Peace, Love, and I'm Out.