Prominent hip-hop artist speaks about sexism in the music
Grammy winning beatboxer Rahzel spoke with me today about the latest controversy over sexism in hip-hop. In this 18-minute interview, he rejected Don Imus' comparison of his scurrilous remarks about the Rutgers Women's basketball team to rap lyrics, but added that rappers who use terms such as "ho," have a responsibility "to clarify what they're talking about."
He also talks about how he has held true to his artistic vision despite the pressure to "come hard."
Follow this link to listen to the conversation.
At the same time, Rahzel maintained that rappers who speak of women in derogatory terms have a right to do that, specifically if that reflects their life experience. He said that it doesn't reflect his experience, and he doesn't talk about women that way. Like many hard-core rappers, however, he says that he has experienced the hardships of urban life -- including homelessness and hunger -- but he always knew that life had something better to offer him. He said like the chance to "bring a Young Jeezy or TI to my world." He also said that while artists have a right to say what they want, radio and televisions should restrict the broadcast of mature content to the hours when children are not likely to be watching.
Rahzel first became a respected figure in the music world during his tenure as a beatboxer with The Roots, a pioneering hip-hop band. As a beatboxer, he is known as an innovator: he's credited with being the first beatboxer to simultaneously perform rhythm, lead vocals, and background vocals. He has collaborated with such diverse artists as Slick Rick, Ceelo and Bjork. Here he is performing one of his signature songs, "If Your Mother Only Knew" at a live concert.
These days, Rahzel often finds himself advising aspiring artists about the realities of the music business. He is also preparing for a European tour and putting together a college tour. A new mixtape, Greatest Knockouts 2 is due in stores and on the Internet in October. Fans can keep up with news about the Godfather of Noyze through his Facebook group, "I want to see Rahzel live."
Full disclosure: This interview was obtained with the assistance of my daughter, who works for Rahzel.
Cross-posted at Professor Kim's News Notes