Imus, Hos and Snoops

Imus, Hos and Snoops

Can Snoop Dogg call a black woman a whore?

Snoop Dogg 2012Who can and cannot call black women “whores”? Who can or cannot call coloured people “niggaz” (as if the z makes any real difference)? It’s funny that it took an aging loudmouth radio presenter – Don Imus – to finally bring the issue of bling lyrics into the public arena. And since then, a lot of the debate has been shuffling around what could be called cultural relativism – the idea that Snoop Dog can call black women whores, but Don Imus can’t. But there’s a glaring problem with that.

There has been a strong demand for years already for the American rap community notably to stop treating women as whores. Countless people – including Salt’n’Pepa, who probably know just a little about the issue of urban culture – have stood up and complained. The issue is also relevant in many African countries. The lyrical treatment of homosexuals was also a major issue in Jamaica.

Why? Shouldn’t we just shrug it off? It’s only a song, after all, or the fantasising of young male teenagers with a microphone and no real idea what to say into it. The trouble is that if you repeat a word often enough, it becomes de-sensitised.

So to the question, “Can Snoop call a black woman a whore, while Dom Imus can’t?”, the answer is, no. Both are wrong, but you can’t fire Snoop. He doesn’t have prime-time radio shows with presumably black listeners. So exit Don Imus stage right.

“Old-ass white men”

But am I the only one who was intrigued by Snoop Dog’s defence of the word “ho” to MTV recently. Snoop Dogg said that rappers “are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the ‘hood that ain’t doing sh–, that’s trying to get a n—a for his money. These are two separate things.”

Do I read that it’s OK to slap a girl down if she’s poor and uneducated? Surely not. “First of all, we ain’t no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls,” Snoop Dogg told MTV. “We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha—-as say we in the same league as him.” Skipping over the racist slur, I’d say this to Snoop Dog: ask women what league they think you are in. They’re the ones who are being stepped on for cheap laughs.

“Don’t call me Nigger, Whitey”

Meanwhile, I can’t help missing Sly Stone – Prince’s clearest influence – whose album “Stand” featured a track called “Don’t Call me Nigger, Whitey”. In terms of lyrics, that’s about all you get. Except for the bit that goes, “Don’t call me Whitey, Nigger”. Stone was an inspired producer, whose mixed bands re-wrote the history of music by spot-welding rock and funk. Check “Don’t Call Me…” here.

4 thoughts on “Imus, Hos and Snoops

  1. Thanks for passing through Michael. Like I said in my blog I am a foreigner and when I came to the Americas I was shell shocked at the way some of the black people were carrying on.. I had to move house because the first place I stayed all I would hear were these horrible demeaning words and fake anger. If anyone needs to be angry its me who lived througha guerilla war. When I saw Snoop I cringed and KNEW that nonsense was about to be on and popping. I find that I am less stunned at the name calling and stuff now but as long as its not toward me.

    I find America has a forked tongue. They set a bad precedent when they sent Isiah to “rehab”. What is that?? Now they had to act on Imus. Now there is all this fretting about freedom of speech. There is ZERO freedom of speech. Everyone is walking on eggshells trying to be politically correct. We solved our problem by not pretending we liked each other back home. We were/are very honest with each other BUT we do not name call. I still think that Don’s firing has more than meets the eye.

    The real problem is lack of education. People need to go to school and get a clue. They will also learn to love themselves. I am a black woman who is fiercely proud of her heritage. You ABSOLUTELY will not find me half naked or on a dog leash!

  2. Wow! This must be the comment of the week.

    Your point about education reminds me of the words of Curtis Mayfield and others back in the sixties and seventies.

    There is no reason to accept blingspeak as being normal. There are indeed other ways to communicate.

  3. I just received the latest newsletter from Paris, of GuerillaFunk. It’s a long one, but it’s well worth reading. He looks at the dynamics of rap as a part of the music industry: “My understanding is that artists are supposed to express what they believe in at all costs (if not, there’s work at the post office). But most don’t, and they mold their approaches to making music based on what they perceive major labels wanting. If Def Jam or Interscope or any of these other large culture-defining companies issued a blanket decree that they would only support material and artists with positive messages then 99% of those making music now would switch up to accommodate. That’s real talk. I’m not saying these labels should (or would), but if they did, gangstas would stop being gangstas and misogynists would stop being misogynists at the drop of a DIME.”

    Another thought: “in this current era of style over substance Stevie Wonder, Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire, Curtis Mayfield and others would never have been signed. Let that sink in for a second. They would never have been signed. Some of the very architects of black music as we know it would have been sidelined too, just as countless others are now, because they wouldn’t have fit into white corporate America’s cookie-cutter feel-good box of acceptable black behavior and appearance.”

    The full article has been removed, but Guerilla Funk are at


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