choose to make statements that have explicit content, that they
have a responsibility to tell people that is what is in their music.
Mr. Stearns. And that is why you favor putting this on records.
Ms. Rosen. Right.
Mr. Stearns. And you?
Mr. Eley. Yes, sir, I agree. I concur.
Mr. Stearns. So what we are talking now is, if you are against
any more than this ā ^you accept this as a labeling on your material,
but you don't want to see any more than that, but you do advocate
Ms. Rosen. Right.
Mr. Eley. Yes, sir.
Mr. Stearns. OK. I yield back my time.
Mrs. Collins. Ms. Rosen, let me say this, that you pointed out
that we do have a vote that is going to be in the House today on
attack weapons ā assault weapons, and they are indeed attack
weapons ā and there are other problems that we have in our soci-
ety. The problem is that we don't celebrate it musically. That is
where the problem lies.
It seems to me that when we have rap that people seem to enjoy,
the surrounding of it, when they laugh to it and party to it and
dance to it and meet young people, each other, they meet each
other over rap music, that is a totally different signal than the
other kinds of ills that we have in society.
You know, when they see it on television that some kid has got-
ten shot or killed, everybody is very, very sorry, you know, they feel
empathy for that family, but when they have rap music where the
lyrics are violent and yet they dance to it and it is seen as a pleas-
urable thing to do, that to me would seem to be just the opposite
of what you want to have happen in your society, and so for that
reason I think the music industry has a tremendous responsibility
not to have that kind of language in the music that it produces. It
just seems to me it just follows that is something that the music
industry can do and that you as a person in RIAA can encourage.
But I want to ask some questions of Mr, Eley.
Mr. Eley. Yes, ma'am,
Mrs. Collins. I certainly share your sentiments regarding the
repressive measures against unpopular people, and you say that
misogyny has no more right to hide behind artistry than does big-
otry. Indeed in a sense you say it is bigotry. Could you explain your
Mr. Eley, Yes, ma'am, I will, I think that anything that identi-
fies a group of people or a sect for violence or for attack based on
nothing other than the stereotypical character of that person or the
features of that person, stereotypical or not, represents a bigotry.
It is a dehumanization, a depersonalization, if you will.
Mrs. Collins. And you also mentioned in your statement ā and
I am quoting now ā exercise of greater vigilance to avoid aiding and
abetting the spread of misogynistic music should be given. Can you
tell us what you mean by this?
Mr. Eley. Yes, ma'am. I mean that the advisory sticker would
fall under that. I think we have to have more conversation. As I
indicate later in my statement, we do have to have dialogue with
our artists as they go into the studio. I just think when you speak
about responsibility and the ones that the record companies must
take, I think that responsible producers, responsible companies,
must talk about the social ills and ask the ā the question has to be
raised regarding what is the art really doing.
Mrs. Collins. Do you think that the record industry is doing
anything at all about clearing up the lyrics?
Mr. Eley. I think we operate as best we can given the fact that
we don't ā and maybe this is the right terminology, I don't know ā
we don't censor them I with I guess it is called prior restraint be-
fore it goes out; we discuss it. Our music is often discussed, and
because these decisions are not made by the same person over and
over again, you do get a variance in the kind of music that is put
Mrs. Collins. Well, if the recording artist comes to Motown and
has a song, and the lyrics are ā ^the beat is fine and all this other
stuff, but the lyrics are certainly violent and misogynistic, would
there be someone at Motown who would say, you know, "You can't
do this", this is not acceptable for one reason or another, and then
change ā ^you know, slightly change the lyrics so that it wouldn't be
that way? A sanitized version that would be used on the radio, for
Mr. Eley. There are two separate issues. I will try to address
both. Our vice president of A&R, Artists and Repertory, who is in
charge of recording, Steve McKeever, is on record in previous hear-
ings as having said that Motown just does not do misogynistic
music, and that is his purview.
As to the matter of the clean copies of the record, I think it
makes a difference by which handle you pick it up. I think that it
also shows when we issue the clean lyrics, it means that we don't
want people bumping into this music unexpectedly. You have to
ask for it, if were more explicit. So we have clean lyrics provided
to radio stations because we don't want a child to have to bump
into this on the radio station. So the radio and the record industry
work together on that.
Mrs. Collins. Well, if the radio and the record industry work to-
gether on this, is it not possible that the radio and the record in-
dustry and the RIAA could work together and just sanitize all of
Mr. Eley. Well then, I must say to you, what we would be doing
then is ā there are people ā and I guess we may as well admit this;
it is proven by the fact that it is popular ā there are people who
want the other version. That is how this music came to be. This
music was not sold out of stores, this music was not sold in record
shops, this music was not manufactured by major record compa-
nies, this music came from independent producers, out of the
trunks of cars. People found it. Those people wanted it. I think that
just under the rules of commerce, to exclude them for purchasing
what they want as adults would not be consistent.
Mrs. Collins. Isn't one of the reasons that they want it because
it is out there? As adults ā and we are not talking about adults. I
mean adults can buy what they want to buy. You know, we are
talking about teenagers, we are talking about kids, basically, who
are buying this stuff.
Mr. Eley. I do understand that, but the question would suggest,
or ā I am sorry ā ^the proposal would suggest that we cut the music
out for those people who do want to buy it, adults who do want to
buy it. I mean if we just released the sanitized version, we would
be doing that.
Mrs. Collins. Well, you are right on that score, but I don't agree
with that. I think it should all be sanitized anyway, but we aren't
going to debate that any more.
Mr. Eley. I mean from my personal taste, I might say yes.
Mrs. Collins. My final question is, there are many misconcep-
tions about how the recording industry works, and I would like for
you to explain to the Members your relationship with an artist for
the time that he or she gets a contract until the final recording is
actually distributed, please, Mr. Eley.
Mr. Eley. Well, an artist comes, and it depends upon what genre
the artist is in. An artist comes; he meets with an artist and rep-
ertory person, an A&R person; we try to decide the direction in
which the artist which wishes to go; and then we produce music
to accommodate that direction. At that point, it is turned over to
my department, the marketing department. We package, we do an
image, we interface with radio and video programs throughout the
country to bring the music to the marketplace. That is when we go
into our marketing mode, and from there it is a matter of getting
into our distribution system where it is sold. That is a thumbnail
Mrs. Collins. But before it gets to marketing, the decision is al-
ready made about the l3n-ics that are going to be there. Is that
Mr. Eley. The artist comes with lyrics, many when they walk
through the door, or the producer has songs, and, you know, I have
heard many discussions in which language has been tempered; I
have been a party to discussions where the decision has been made
not to go with a certain artist, and I can say with pride that at
least some of our women employees and executives have been in
the decision-making process as to whether or not we would go with
a particular artist, and it happened that we didn't,
Mrs. Collins. OK. Thank you.
We have been joined by the ranking member of the full Energy
and Commerce Committee, Mr. Moorhead.
Mr. Moorhead. Madam Chairwoman, I am very interested in
the discussion, but I have no questions at this time.
Mrs. Collins. Thank you.
We have been joined also be Mr. Pallone who is a member of our
Mr. Pallone. I have no questions. Madam Chairwoman.
Mrs. Collins. Thank you very much.
Well, we certainly thank you for appearing before us this morn-
ing. There may be some questions we have in writing, and if we
send those to you, please prepare to return those to us in 5 working
days. Thank you very much.
Mrs. Collins. Our next panel will consist of Mr. Ambrose Lane,
Jr., who is a radio announcer in Washington, DC; Ms. Tammy R.
Riley, who is an artistic manager for Flavor Unit Management; and
Grand Master Flash who is a rapper from New York.
Won't you come forward please?
Mr. Lane and Grand Master Flash, are they here?
Ms. Riley. I don't think so.
Mrs. Collins. If not, then we will call up the next panel as well.
We will call Dr. Tricia Rose, who is the assistant professor of his-
tory and Africana studies at New York University; Dr. Robin D. G.
Kelley, who is associate professor of history and African American
studies at Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan; and Mr.
Fred Evans, who is the principal at Gaithersburg High School.
Won't you come forward, please.
Mr. Evans, I think we will begin with you, and we will work
down this way.
STATEMENTS OF FRED S. EVANS, PRINCIPAL, GAITHERSBURG
(MD) HIGH SCHOOL; TAMMY W. RILEY, ARTIST MANAGER,
FLAVOR UNIT MANAGEMENT, JERSEY CITY, NJ; ROBIN D.G.
KELLEY, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND AFRICAN AMERICAN
STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN; AND TRICIA ROSE, AS-
SISTANT PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND AFRICANA STUDIES,
NEW YORK CITY UNIVERSITY
Mr. Evans. It still is the morning, so good morning Congress-
woman Collins and members of the committee.
My name is Fred Evans, principal of Gaithersburg High School
in Montgomery County, Md. I am pleased to be here today with
you to share my thoughts about this very important topic.
In 1954, Dr. Gordon Allport of Harvard University completed his
classic work, "The Nature of Prejudice", a comprehensive and pene-
trating study of the origin and nature of prejudice. Allport de-
scribed the process of how prejudicial attitudes would be expressed
through various levels of action from verbal antipathy to genocide.
He defined the degrees of negative action from the least energetic
to the most, and Allport talked about five levels. The first was
antilocution, which is a verbal antipathy toward individuals of
groups; the next level was avoidance; the next was discrimination,
physical attack; and then, finally, and most severely, extermi-
According to Allport ā and I quote ā "While many people would
never move from antilocution to avoidance or from avoidance to ac-
tive discrimination or higher on the scale, still it is true that activ-
ity on one level makes transition to a more intense level easier," ā
that is my emphasis. "It was Hitler's antilocution that led German
citizens to initially avoid their Jewish neighbors and erstwhile
Rap music lyrics or any other communication form that demean
or diminish a specific group on a continued and persistent basis
can be utilized to justify more intense aggression or action against
that group. The language serves to dehumanize or depersonalize
the individuals in the group and can set the stage for more aggres-
sive action to take place with little regard for the consequences; for
example, separation from that group, slavery, or extermination.
The verbal or musical aggression will not automatically lead to
more negative action but can establish a climate of more violent ac-
tion if left unchecked or unchallenged.
I do not believe that abusive, violent, and misog3niistic language
in rap music can be blamed directly for America's very serious
problems of violence towards women or persons in different racial,
ethnic, or cultural groups. I do believe, however, that we must ex-
amine the anger and hostility contained in some of music, be it rap
or rock, to discover why it exists.
In no way do I excuse the very negative descriptions of certain
groups and actions in the music. Language that demeans or dimin-
ishes any group describes more about the feelings and attitudes of
the propagator rather than the recipient.
From my point of view as an educator, it is crucial that we know
what our students and children are listening to and being influ-
enced by so that we can provide guidance, leadership, and alter-
natives. Parents, teachers, and all responsible adults must act as
role models to correct action based on stereotypes and misinforma-
tion. Our children must get a different point of view from the
steady diet of TV, movie, video, and musical violence and depreca-
tion of targeted groups. Standards must be established about ap-
propriate and inappropriate language in school, in the workplace,
and in the home. We must also research, study, analyze, and de-
velop new strategies for dealing with the very real and dangerous
problems that confront our children. It is a national tragedy that
homicide, depending on what study you read, is the first or second
leading cause of death for persons 15 to 24 years of age.
My experience shows me that students react positively to pro-
grams that enhance self-esteem and build self-confidence. Tradi-
tional athletic programs as well as new initiatives such as mentor
and peer mediation programs are examples. Any time that you can
recognize a student for doing something positive, in my perspective,
will help along the way.
Educators, legislators, musicians, and all other concerned citi-
zens must work together and provide positive leadership and guid-
ance so that our children can make proper decisions about how
they will treat one another.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.
Mrs. Collins. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF TAMMY W. RILEY
Ms. Riley. Honorable Chairwoman Collins, first I would like to
thank you for inviting me to testify to this committee on the impact
of abusive, violent, and misogynistic language of rap music.
I am Tammy Riley, a 25-year-old Native American Indian woman
and an executive of Flavor Unit Management. This company is
spearheaded by Ms. Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens, a successful role
model, a rap artist, actress, African American woman, and CEO of
her own company at the age of 23.
I am here today to express my views on the lyrical and visual
content of music, TV, and other media in the entertainment indus-
try. I would also like to bring to the forefront a broader issue,
which deals with the greater societal ills that have created the con-
ditions which popularize targeting successful minority sectors of
business and industry for public dissection and scrutiny. Social ills
such as racism lead to stereot3T)es, economic disenfranchisement,
Honorable Chairwoman C. Collins, I can speak firsthand as a
victim of violent acts committed against women and abusive lan-
guage used toward women. Therefore, I am not only testifying as
an entertainment executive but as a woman who is equally con-
cerned about the violence that threatens our communities.
What is the solution? Will we even come to a solution about vio-
lence and abusive language against women, men, children, and any
other being, considering this country, in my opinion, was built on
a lot of violence?
In conclusion, I feel parents should develop realistic lines of com-
munication with their children and shape their perception of re-
ality and not let the media do their job or blame the entertainment
industry for their shortcomings. Television and music should not be
Mrs. Collins. Dr. Kelley?
STATEMENT OF ROBIN D.G. KELLEY
Mr. Kelley. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of
My name is Robin D.G. Kelley, and for the record I just made
a couple of corrections. It is Robin D.G. Kelley. "Kelley" is spelled
with an "ey", and I am not an associate professor, I am a full pro-
fessor at the University of Michigan.
While I do agree that sexism and sexist language is a serious
problem among African Americans and in U.S. society as a whole,
to begin to deal with this issue, we need to establish at least three
things: One, rap music in particular draws on much older tradi-
tions of sexist vernacular culture that has to be understand histori-
cally; two, that misogynistic language in popular music is a symp-
tom of the culture and circumstances we live in rather than the
cause of sexist behavior; and, three, that censorship will not allevi-
First, like virtually all of American culture, African American
vernacular tradition has a very long history of sexism evidenced in
oral forms such as toasting, the blues, and the age old "baaadman
tales." Some of the older toasts are more venomous in their use of
sexist profanity than much of what we find today in hip hop.
Although it wasn't marketed like rap is today, vulgar oral tradi-
tions have been in circulation. Indeed, one finds scholarly books of
such vernacular poetry edited by leading scholars in public and
university libraries and even the Library of Congress has sexist,
profanity-ridden recordings by artists like Jelly Roll Morton in its
The historic characters from the "baaadman tales" of the late
19th and early 20th centuries such as Stagolee and Railroad Bill
were intended to be thoroughly bad, rebels against anyone who
stood in their way ā the white man, the law, the community, and
women ā and, in a context where lynching was seen by whites and
blacks as acts of racial class and gender domination, as a means
of keeping so-called "niggers" in their place and stripping black
men of any sense of manhood or sexual assertiveness. Black com-
munities who heard these stories derived both pleasure and fear
from these horrific tales of transgression and nihilism. That they
were profoundly sexist goes without saying, but they were never in-
tended to be mirrors of actual gender relations nor prescriptions for
how to live.
These characters were aesthetically compelling precisely because
their transgressions were so total, so complete, and hence so
m5rthic. Many, not all, rap artists draw on this tradition because
they too find the mythic baaadman compelling not only for its
sexism but for its resistance to police, to racism, to government,
and other embodiments of authority.
Yet we also need to ask why these sexist traditions are so com-
pelling to so many young men of all ethnic groups. Children are
rziised in a world where men are expected to dominate, to control,
to be the main breadwinner, and women are expected to be weaker
Despite the limited successes of the feminist movement, men and
women who don't fall within these roles are often treated as
strange exceptions. Indeed, as Susan Faludi points out in her book
"Backlash", TV shows like "Married With Children", and the so-
called new men's movement represent an adult male counterattack
on challenges to traditional gender roles.
Similarly, backlash has taken place among poor inner city men,
but with a twist. The very things associated with male power are
more difficult for these men to achieve. Permanent unemployment
and the constant threat of violence and incarceration has made it
difficult for men to be the primary wage earner, achieve financial
security, and establish patriarchal families. The shift to a post-in-
dustrial economy in which young urban African Americans have
fewer and fewer prospects has shaped rap music narratives about
sexual relationships and, as in the past, women have been the tar-
get of young men s frustrations. Indeed, except for the use of pro-
fanity, some of these young men's attacks on African American
women sound very much like that of conservative critics. Young
women are portrayed as welfare queens making babies merely to
stay on public assistance, or so-called "skeezers" who use their sex-
uality to take black men's meager wages. So many young men see
heterosexual conquest as a key element in achieving masculinity.
Of course, we must not apologize for or condone this behavior, but
if we want to eradicate sexism, we need to understand its roots.
The idea that male dominance is normal, particularly within the
context of a patriarchal family, is not new nor is it a product of rap
music. Almost 3 decades ago. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan au-
thored an influential report that said black families were dysfunc-
tional because black men did not dominate. Women were blsimed
for many of the problems black men face, including poverty and
joblessness, which was particularly a function of the lack of a
healthy masculine self-imagine.
In other words, we need to look beyond sexist language and ex-
plore how young men learn to be young men. Oftentimes the most
hurtful forms of sexism do not involve profanity at all, whether it
is the fact that women still make less money than men for the
same work or the events surrounding the confirmation of Clarence
Thomas in which a Senate subcommittee condoned sexist behavior
and vilified Anita Hill.
The push for all-male schools in inner city communities similarly
reinforce sexist attitudes. The curriculum in many of these schools
emphasizes male role models in their readings and in the class-
room prepare boys for leadership roles and claim to be instilling a
sense of manhood through discipline and responsibility.
Mrs. Collins. Dr. Kelley, your time has expired.
STATEMENT OF TRICIA ROSE
Ms. Rose. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman, for having me here
today, and members of the committee.
Abusive and misogynistic language in contemporary popular cul-
ture is p?.rt of a much larger and very complex process of devaluing
and oppressing women in American society. Specifically, in this
case, I welcome open discussion on the language, ideas, and lyrics
about black women that are the impetus for these and other recent
However, these discussions should be part of a serious and sus-
tained examination of the way this society continues to allow insti-
tutional and cultural forms of oppression, most notably, class, race,
and gender oppression, to seriously damage the lives and opportu-
nities of African American women, and one of the central flaws in
mainstream thinking about misogynistic language and behavior,
and in fact in rap specifically, is that it is perceived as an aberra-
tion, as a departure from the logic of everyday treatment of women.
Instead, these extreme behaviors are part of a spectrum of sexist
practices. We must come to terms with that fact. Otherwise, we
cannot deal with this issue effectively.
As I point out in my book on rap music, "Black Noise", rap music
and rap video has been wrongfully characterized as thoroughly sex-
ist, but it has rightfully been lambasted for its sexism. As my seri-
ous attention to the music would demonstrate, alongside the rap
songs that are clearly troubling in its portrayal of young women,
there are many songs that are not. Still, I am thoroughly frus-
trated but not surprised by the apparent need for some rappers to
craft elaborate and creative stories about the abuse and domination
of young black women. Perhaps these stories serve to protect young
men from the reality of female rejection in heterosexual courtship
rituals which have always been one of the primary ways young
men establish their role as the more powerful gender. Maybe and
more likely, tales of sexual domination falsely relieve their experi-
ences of abuse and domination in society and limited access to eco-
nomic and social markers for heterosexual power. Certainly they
reflect deep-seated sexism that pervades the structure of American
On the other hand, given the selective way in which the subject
of sexism occupies public dialogue, I am highly skeptical of the tim-
ing and strategic deployment of outrage regarding rap sexism.