Last week, while watching part three of BET's amazing four-part HipHop documentary The Message, I stumbled across an interesting Tweet that sent me back to Tha Liberator archive.
Part three of The Message dealt with, among other things, misogyny in HipHop and featured various video montages to illustrate the point. During one of the segments a clip was shown of Nelly's infamously explicit Tip Drill, a video that took HipHop sexploitation to another level by setting the bar so low that even Paul Wall, creepin' like a caterpillar (cuz he's low to the Earth), couldn't pass beneath.
Everything that has ever been wrong with HipHop is on full display in the video, which is the perfect storm of God-awful lyrics, buffoonery, and female degradation. In theory Tip Drill was the antithesis of everything one would assume the Black Entertainment Network stands for. But then one would be totally mistaken, because Tip Drill was the video that made BET's uncensored late-night video show Uncut famous. Or perhaps Uncut made Tip Drill famous.
Nevertheless, whomever was responsible for such decisions at BET took Uncut off the air in 2006.
So back to last week's episode — the Tweet from someone associated with the production read, "We had to get permission from the top of the totem pole to show clips from the Tip Drill video which is banned from BET air."
So it's good to know that the powers that BET have better sense than their predecessors, but the fact is Tip Drill would never have gained the notoriety it did had it not been for Uncut. And whether the network wants to take credit or not, Uncut provided a nationwide platform for similarly ridiculous, poorly produced, equally offensive videos by long forgotten local rappers and whatever low-rent strippers they could entice out of the local booty bars.
While BET may have the final say on the final edit of The Message, this cover of Tha Liberator, from 2004, is a reminder that even Black Entertainment Television can't whitewash HipHop history!
Black College Women Take Aim at Rappers
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 23, 2004
ATLANTA (AP) -- Maybe it was the credit card that rap superstar Nelly swiped through a woman's backside in a recent video.
Here at Spelman, the most famous black women's college in the country, a feud has erupted over images of women in rap videos, sparking a petition drive and phone campaigns.
Nelly planned to visit Spelman earlier this month for a charity event enlisting students for a bone marrow registry. But the rapper canceled the appearance after hearing that a protest was in the works because of his videos -- especially "Tip Drill," the one with the credit card, which also
shows men throwing money between women's legs and women simulating sex acts with each other.
Misogyny in pop music, especially hip-hop, has been around for years. What's new, students say, is an explosion of almost-X-rated videos passed around on the Internet or shown late at night on cable channels like Black Entertainment Television, also known as BET.
Never before, students say, have the portrayals of black women been so hypersexual and explicit.
"It's very harsh. This is something we have to see and listen to on a daily basis," said senior Shanequa Yates. "Nelly just didn't want to come here and face the criticism for the choices he's made."
Not all students agreed that rappers are to blame, or that the images were harmful to society. At a recent meeting at Spelman to decide what should be done to protest rap music, some pointed out that women in the videos know what they're doing and are paid to do it.
The issue especially incensed some men studying at Morehouse, a black men's college closely affiliated with Spelman. "These are grown women. I'm putting the blame on the women," said Kenneth Lavergne, a senior who was loudly booed by the 300 or so women at the meeting.
Another student, Bradley Walker from Clark Atlanta University, talked about the credit-card swiping. "Bottom line, a woman let him do that," he said. "I do think sometimes the total blame is put on artists themselves."
Nelly's record label agrees. A spokeswoman for Universal Records, Wendy Washington, complained that the charity event fell apart just because women at Spelman were looking for a scapegoat. She said the feud unfairly made Nelly an example to fire up urban radio stations and music writers across the country.
"He did not think it was appropriate at all for students to use that as a forum," Washington said. "I think he was profoundly frustrated. He was not the first, certainly, to do a video like that."
Spelman women have low hopes of getting a change from BET, which shows bawdy
videos with genitals and breasts fuzzed out on "BET Uncut" at 3 a.m. ET.
The network has no plans to stop running it. "'Uncut' has developed an almost cult-like following because of the freedom of artists to express themselves," said network spokesman Michael Lewellen. "It is specifically for adults. These are music videos whose content is too strong for our day points. We exercise more scrutiny than is required."
That sums up the basic message Spelman women have gotten from rappers and TV executives -- if you don't like it, don't watch the videos or listen to the music. But the student activists insist the stereotypes in rap music hurt black people even if they don't listen.
"Black entertainers have become the new myth makers, showing gangsters and bikini-clad women with hyperactive libidos," said Zenobia Hikes, vice president for student affairs. "For non-black children it creates a gross misrepresentation of the black experience."
The next move is a petition drive, and a campaign to phone complaints to TV networks and radio stations that run offensive material. If Janet Jackson's breast sparked such a crackdown on indecency in the media, the students say, surely a woman shaking so violently her bikini bottom pops off should anger people, too.
"We need to organize and say no to this stuff, this nasty, disgusting stuff," said Beverly Guy-Sheftall, director of the school's Women's Research and Resource Center.
It won't be easy.
"I don't see a solution as long as you have people willing to do it," said senior Nikole Howard. "You have to demand respect, but I doubt these women even thought they were being disrespected. It makes me sad, makes me realize how much work we have to do to educate women."
Should Farrakhan Now Claim Kadafi's Money?
Posted April 29, 2004 – It’s been nearly eight years since the federal government told Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan that he could not accept a gift of more than $1 billion from Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.
The United States had long argued that Kadafi was a chief financer of terrorism around the world. In 1986, then-President Reagan, citing retaliation for the bombing of a German discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen, sent an air strike against Kadafi in the deserts of Libya, killing his infant daughter. Two years later, America blamed him for shooting down a French airliner, Pan Am flight 103, over Lockerbie Scotland, killing 270 people.:: AD ::
In 1992, America and the United Nations imposed sanctions against Libya, pointing to its alleged ties to international terrorism and hoping to force Kadafi to hand over two men named in the bombing of the jet.
Four years into U.S. sanctions, which included restrictions on travel to Libya and a ban on doing any business with the North African nation, Libya chose Farrakhan to receive a $250,000 human rights award and an additional gift of $1 billion. Farrakhan had promised to use the $1 billion to set up joint ventures with businesses and financial institutions in an effort to assist Black Americans.
The U.S. Department of Treasury, however, denied Farrakhan’s request to be exempted from a mandate requiring banks under U.S. jurisdiction to freeze all Libyan financial transactions. Facing prison and fines, the minister declined the award.
"I will accept the honor of this prize, but I will ask you to hold the monies until a decision is made by a U.S. court of law," Farrakhan said in August of 1996, while visiting Libya’s capital of Tripoli.
Fast forward to 2004.
Although Kadafi – it should be noted, a longtime enemy of Osama bin Laden – labels his old self a "freedom fighter" and a reflection of Nelson Mandela, the new Kadafi has been more than clear about the need to eradicate terrorism.
"Libya has become an example to be followed," Kadafi said during his trip to Brussels Tuesday. He said that his country led the liberation movement in the Third World and Africa, but will now lead an international peace movement.
After years of economic pressure, he gave billions to the families of the Pan Am victims and has had cordial meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other European leaders. Last month, according to published reports, Kadafi even got a kind letter from President George W. Bush.
With the possible lifting of U.S. sanctions, it now appears that businesses will be able to reap billions. Should Farrakhan, or other Black Americans, also be able to benefit?