Idolator Live-Blogs The Congressional Hip-Hop Hearings

jharv | September 25, 2007 10:05 am

You know those mornings after those nights where you don’t even drink that much, only like eight or 12 bourbons, but the sum total of what you ate that day amounted to, say, an apple and a handful of pretzels, so when the idea of eating a bacon cheeseburger with jalapenos at 2 a.m. pops into your head it seems like a really good idea, until you wake up the next day feeling like you have been beaten around the base of the neck with a large bottle of canola oil in your sleep after which said bottle of canola oil was poured down your throat to let fester in your gut for the thre hours of restless, uncomfortable sleep you got on someone else’s floor? Well, what better time to live-blog a congressional hearing on “the business of stereotypes and degrading images” in popular culture? So come along me with me, won’t you, as I sit through a bunch of rappers and some old rich white assholes lamenting the current state of music until either it’s over or I pass out:

9:57 a.m. You know this is important to the future of something because it’s only available on a pixilated webcast.

9:59 a.m. Which you can watch along with me here if you’re a masochist.

10:00 a.m. People are filing in now. This is about as exciting as watching Sunday service let out at church.

10:05 a.m. The full title of today’s hearing is “From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images.” Just in case anyone forgot who it was that brought us here today.

10:08 a.m. Just in case you’re wondering what it is we’re live-blogging, here’s a little recap.

10:09 a.m. Jesus, my head hurts. Where is my friggin’ bagel, already.

10:11 a.m. 11 minutes into this and there’s still no sound on the webcast. This could prove a bit of a problem.

10:13 a.m. Finally, some sound! The good Mr. Rush is talking about a “culture of death that permeates our society” which is something I totally feel this morning Mr. Representative.

10:16 a.m. “This is hearing is not anti-hip-hop. Let me be real clear, I am a fan of hip-hop.”

10:17 a.m. Mr. Rush apparently believes that misogyny is “on its way out.” Seriously everybody, I am not equipped to deal with this today.

10:19 a.m. Another Congressman is thanking a bunch of multi-millionaire CEO’s for taking some time out of their day to stop by. But what about the bloggers?

10:22 a.m. Now they’re talking about video games and repressive regimes in China. What the fuck is going on?

10:23 a.m. Everybody’s in agreement: they have some “serious objections” to bad words.

10:25 a.m. Privacy on the internet at colleges?

10:26 a.m. First Imus reference.

10:27 a.m. Everybody’s in agreement (revisted): we’re totally trying to avoid the “slippery slope” of running roughshod over the First Amendment.

10:29 a.m. The first 20 minutes of this thing have been one long, vigorous handjob for Bobby Rush from one Representative after another for being such a brave soul. Is this how these things normally go?

10:30 a.m. Oh, someone other than me has a problem with the title of the hearing. Except his problem is that it seems to defame the industry.

10:32 a.m. Oh shut the fuck up about the First Amendment already.

10:34 a.m. This guy’s eyebrows are wigging me out.

10:35 a.m. When does David Banner get here?

10:36 a.m. Apparently “society has failed” Master P since he has chosen “to write such filth.”

10:39 a.m. Never trust anyone who says they “certainly don’t enjoy” dirty word/pictures.

10:43 a.m. Thank you, video game industry, for capitulating to these ass-clowns a few years ago, thereby allowing them to think these hearings are anything other than a big hand-wringing, tsk-tsk’ing, circle-jerking waste of tax dollars.

10:45 a.m. This has to be the first mention of either Studio One or Barrington Levy at a congressional hearing.

10:47 a.m. Also Brand Nubian and A Tribe Called Quest.

10:48 a.m. Oh snap, an “MTV doesn’t play videos anymore” diss!

10:49 a.m. A Shinehead reference?? Who is this hipster congressman?

10:53 a.m. When I die, I will be forced to take notes on a congressional hearing where the opening statements never end. I just told Maura that if she hears my head hit the keyboard to come over and kick me a few times.


10:59 a.m. I have officially lost track of how many times “the children” have been invoked.

11:02 a.m. I just took a break to go to the bathroom and I come back to the discussion of sex traffickers. This is just like the Idolator party last night.

11:04 a.m. We’re taking a break to decide what we want on our pizza.

11:08 a.m. We decided on pepperoni.

11:10 a.m. The friggin’ pizza place doesn’t even open until 11:30.

11:11 a.m. 9000th “slippery slope” reference.

11:12 a.m. Oh hey, it’s Dick Gregory.

11:13 a.m. The president of Viacom seems to be saying that the The Hills is a sign of…actually I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about.

11:15 a.m. And time has stopped.

11:16 a.m. And we’re back. For a BET spot where T.I. and Nelly invoke their right to free speech.

11:19 a.m. Okay, wait, that’s it? On with the next witness? They’re not even going to ask him any questions?

11:20 a.m. Ah, the guy from Warners is the first person to bring up the “protest”/”journalism”/”real talk” angle. THEY’RE JUST TELLING IT LIKE IT IS FOLKS. THESE RAPPERS, WITH THEIR CUSSIN’ AND WHATNOT.

11:24 a.m. Sorry, I think I blanked out for a minute there.

11:25 a.m. Doug Morris from Universal looks like he should be luring unsuspecting billy goats to their doom.

11:28 a.m. Yeah, mention Mozart and U2 to deflect from your filthmongering. Good looking out, Doug.

11:30 a.m. The way this guy pronounces “Chamillionaire” is suddenly the funniest thing in the world to me.

11:32 a.m. “We do not market explicit lyrics anywhere near young people.” Riiiight.

11:33 a.m. Bobby Rush is getting pissy with Doug “Verbal Diarrhea” Morris.

11:35 a.m. Oh good, they’re taking a break to go do some congress-type things. I’m going to go take this opportunity to punch myself in the face.

11:37 a.m. If this is half as mind-numbing to read as it is to watch then I haven’t really done my job.

11:45 a.m. Seriously though, they are taking a pee break or something, so I’ll be back just as soon as they are, though I can’t exactly say when that is.

12:00 p.m. I have been staring at this little Windows Media Player box for two hours now. It’s like an aquarium.

12:06 p.m. I am drinking my third purple Vitamin Water of the day in honor of 50 Cent, noted offensive hip-hop artist and vitamin enthusiast. There’s still nothing happening.

12:12 p.m. MTV’s “stuff as much incomprehensible motion into three-hours as we possibly can” at the VMA’s now makes a lot more sense, at least from a live-blogging perspective.

12:20 p.m. And we’re back! With the president and CEO of Radio One.

12:22 p.m Note the well-deployed reference to the network’s firm commitment to the gospel format.

12:24 p.m. “Some have claimed the bible is too violent.”

12:25 p.m. Man, all these motherfuckers are so hot to distance themselves from their hip-hop content/product or otherwise play it down that it’s kind of shocking.

12:30 p.m. “Really, it’s only a very small part of what we do. We swear.”

12:31 p.m. Apparently rappers don’t write offensive lyrics, guns do.

12:32 p.m. Then it’s official: We’re all agreed that the First Amendment should be protected.

12:34 p.m. Ah, the first question. Can the industry profit from pledging to ban nasty words?

12:35 p.m. 6793th “[X] is in the eye of the beholder” reference.

12:38 p.m. Lenny Bruce: art. Too $hort: not.

12:39 p.m. Unsurprisingly no one thinks they should ban anything.

12:40 p.m. They are now reading 50 Cent and “Cameron” lyrics about “explicit sex.”

12:42 p.m. Congress apparently does not understand the idea of using the same words in different contexts that might in fact alter their meaning.

12:44 p.m. Stop saying “Cameron” and “explicit sex”!

12:50 p.m. Most rappers are “good American citizens” who “care about their art.”

12:54 p.m. Oh no, don’t bring the Internet into things.

12:56 p.m. The Viacom guy is talking about Nickelodeon now. DON’T EVADE THE ISSUE.

12:57 p.m. Oh great, now some congressman has shown up late, so let’s recap all the nothing we’ve already talked about. Especially the First Amendment.

1:00 p.m. For Chrissakes they’ve ALREADY TALKED ABOUT THIS. You’re the guy who sits down halfway through the movie and expects everyone to explain it to him!!

1:02 p.m. I can’t tell if it’s a glitch with the webcast or what, but it sounds like there’s a pep rally going on in the background. Or maybe The Shining soundtrack.

1:04 p.m. Doug Morris has finally blamed the evil, evil downloaders.

1:06 p.m. Oh, and child pornography.

1:07 p.m. The congressman from New York has clearly spent some time at Fat Beats if he’s quoting the chorus to “Deep Cover.”

1:10 p.m. Congress to Doug Morris: STFU about illegal downloading.

1:12 p.m. Bobby Rush finally drops the “Rutgers women’s basketball team” bomb.

1:14 p.m. You see, what we really need are high school programs explaining why Britney flashing her snatch isn’t “normal behavior.”

1:17 p.m. Wait, that’s it?

1:18 p.m. Ah, they’re bringing on the rappers. Finally!

1:19 p.m. David Banner, Master P, and Michael Eric Dyson, our distinguished second panel.

1:22 p.m. “Quote-unquote gangsta rap,” “quote-unquote bounce hip-hop,” “in quote-unquote the dirty south.”

1:23 p.m. David Banner getting a little emo.

1:26 p.m. “I threw the largest urban relief concert in history for Katrina, but that never made it to the front page of any newspaper.”

1:27 p.m. Banner bringing the real talk.

1:29 p.m. Seriously, he’s more eloquent and well-prepared than any of the label execs. Hell, probably the congresspeople.

1:31 p.m. Master P is “speaking from the heart.” Uh-oh.

1:32 p.m. “I used to be part of the problem.” Dude sounds like a recovering alcoholic.

1:36 p.m. Master P wants to form a union where artists will be fined for bad behavior.

1:40 p.m. Michael Eric Dyson dares to float the crazy notion that misogyny didn’t begin with hip-hop.

1:42 p.m. Also that homophobia is getting a free pass as everyone freaks out over misogyny.

1:43 p.m. Dyson tearing shit up.

1:44 p.m. “I wouldn’t want to quarantine the crazy to hip-hop.”

1:45 p.m. Breathlessly quoting Tupac and Talib Kweli, castigating double-standards in African-American churches, claiming that the U.S. government couldn’t airlift them out of New Orleans during Katrina and now wants to indict them, dropping “white supremacy” and “patriarchy.”

1:46 p.m. “I don’t want edifying art, I want complicated art.”

1:48 p.m. Bobby Rush: Look, I keep telling you, I’m “down” with your “hip-hop.”

1:49 p.m. He also doesn’t buy David Banner’s explanation for why it’s okay to use of the N-word, i.e. reclaiming it from generations of racists.

1:53 p.m. David Banner wonders why the Terminator can be a governor but David Banner can’t just write a song, man.

1:57 p.m. Michael Eric Dyson: Martin Luther King used the N-word too.

2:01 p.m. I’m flaggin’ bad here, y’all. Four hours down.

2:06 p.m. At least we’ve stopped talking about the First Amendment.

2:07 p.m. Instead we’re hammering the N.W.A.-era chestnut that rappers are just reflecting their surroundings.

2:09 p.m. First reference to “the rap music.”

2:11 p.m. “When we go to McDonald’s, do we think about the pain we inflict by making America unhealthy.”

2:14 p.m. America is friggin’ nuts.


2:21 p.m. You know, what are you gonna do? You pretend this kind of thing doesn’t matter, but then you’re just being apathetic. Or you can get worked up about it and look foolish/give yourself an ulcer. Lose-lose.

2:25 p.m. David Banner gets at the sad truth: more people paid attention to him when he was whispering about cunnilngus than when he was trying to get conscious.

2:32 p.m. Maura just put on Fuse’s No. 1 Hip-Hop Countdown so I can watch the degredation live as I live-blog the hearings about the degredation. (It’s “Ayo Technology” btw.)

2:34 p.m. David Banner just won’t get off the “chill out, it’s just music” kick.

2:37 p.m. Michael Eric Dyson on why Kanye beat 50: It’s because his content better represents “the convergence of complexity that characterizes our complicated lives.”

2:40 p.m. David Banner: “I call my music a bible in a Playboy cover.”

2:45 p.m. Oh holy Christ there’s a third panel.

2:48 p.m. Master P: I wasted my moment in the spotlight on teaching the kids how to make and sell crack. I coulda been a contenderKanye West.

2:50 p.m. Some sort of emergency klaxon is going off in the background.

2:54 p.m. Bring on the feminist academics.

2:58 p.m. Strange how most of the peanut gallery cleared out when the celebrities left and the academics rolled in.

3:02 p.m. Well, I think I should probably take a moment during this most recent recess to talk a little bit about what I’ve learned today. One, every time a congressperson starts talking about how they would never try to screw with the First Amendment, you can just pencil in “…but I would if I could” at the end. Record and network execs are free speech absolutists provided it doesn’t remotely affect their bottom line. Rappers really need to drop “we’re just telling it like it is” as an excuse for their lazy nihilism at this point. Michael Eric Dyson is too smart to be wasting his time caught in go-nowhere “discussions” like this one. Academic feminists sadly do not put the asses in the seats. And watching five hours of congressional hearings will reduce even the hardiest man to a drooling, preverbal state where he’s unable to even wipe the pizza sauce off his slack jaw.

3:34 p.m. Still nothing happening. How’s everybody holding up? I just put on a black metal record to cheer myself up. We’re gonna get through this.

3:39 p.m. I’m watching three people read the newspaper in an otherwise empty congressional hall while some Norwegian screams about Odin in the background. You know, life is pretty sweet.

3:41 p.m. Today’s live blog has been brought to you by Maker’s Mark, making me a miserable bastard to be around in the daylight hours for over a decade.

3:52 p.m. People seem to be filing back in. This might be an opitcal illusion caused by dementia brought on by sleep deprevation.

3:54 p.m. The sound is back on. Does this mean something is…about to happen.

3:55 p.m. Ah, the first mention of what we old people used to call “political correctness” way back in those oh-so-sensetive 90s.

3:56 p.m. You know, Maura had flashing lights, rock bands smashing up their “suites,” and zonked-out-of-her-mind Britney fruggin’ in her drawers. I get dour, self-serious college professors. This is my war.

4:01 p.m. Oh, it’s the lizard brain that makes people racists.

4:02 p.m. What post-puberty human isn’t honestly “more interested in sexual release, than in “political consciousness.”

4:04 p.m. “Even though most of the cameras have left, even though most of the people have left…” I’m still here, baby.

4:05 p.m. How to get people to stop taking you seriously: Call a piece of parody rap (“Read A Book”) that got turned into a viral video meme thanks to a cutesy video a “public service announcement.”

4:08 p.m. C. Delores Tucker gets her first, long-awaited bigging-up.

4:10 p.m. Congrats, Rep. Rush, you’ve put together a presentation where nearly everyone–politicians, execs, artists, academics, and pundits–comes off looking ridiculous.

4:13 p.m. The AP weighs in: “At the hearing, music videos showing scantily clad women were played; music executives in dark suits testified on the uses of the “B,” H” and “N” words, and black civil rights leaders talked of corporate exploitation.”

4:19 p.m. Somebody finally brings up the double-standard of MTV bleeping political content while leaving gross sexin’ lyrics intact.

4:21 p.m. When in doubt, intimate that record labels are allowing child predators to prey on underage girls taking webcam shots of their asses.

4:27 p.m. “If you don’t like a TV show, you can just turn it off, but you can’t turn off your culture.” Tell me about it.

4:31 p.m. Okay, everyone else has had their chance, so here’s some real talk from yours truly. I agree with many of these politicos and preachers and pundits that American culture has taken a nosedive into a septic tank, and I often walk away from a few hours of video or radio bristling with disgust at what happens when race and sex and relations between the races and the sexes get perverted by capitalism. So don’t think my seven hours of non-stop snark means that I think everything is A-OK with the health of popular music. I would be more than happy if I never heard any lyrics about “explicit sex” from “Cameron” ever again. But, and I doubt I’m at all alone in this, my “innate distrust” warning alarms start clanging at top volume when the government suddenly takes an interest in “entering into a dialogue” with those who create and sell culture, especially when it seems to be a thinly disguised effort by people in a position of authority to pressure/scare grown men and women into cleaning up their acts by tsk-tsk’ing them as if they were 8-year-olds. And that, coupled with cringe-inducing memories of the three-ring clusterfuck of the PMRC hearings and the embarassingly overzealous rhetoric of many of the post-C. Delores Tucker types we’ve heard from today, has made me unable to, I dunno, take this hearing seriously. At all.

4:45 p.m. Meanwhile back at the ranch, this hearing is never going to end.

4:47 p.m. Rep. Rush brings up the eternal question: If a man loves his mama, how can he say such terrible things about women?

4:55 p.m. Thanks to the mention, I just got wistful for the uproar over “Wait (The Whisper Song).” Can it only have been two years?

4:58 p.m. “Lil Jeezy”?

5:06 p.m. Rep. Rush is wigged out by DMX wanting to rape your teenage daughters.

5:11 p.m. The committee is adjourned. THE COMMITTEE IS ADJOURNED.

5:12 p.m. i would just like to point out that yes I am drinking a beer, but it was Maura who got it for me.

5:14 p.m. And since I seem to have flipped some Pavlovian live-blogging switch, I’m going to back away slowly from the computer now and go have a good cry. It’s been real folks. See you tomorrow when I’ll be live-blogging the meeting of Burlington High School PTA, where some resolutions might actually be reached.


5:16 p.m. Jess: I think we had a good day today. Maura: I do too. Jess: Especially for a Monday. Maura: It’s Tuesday. Jess: …