The NAACP is receiving political pressure for adding a Hip Hop category to the NAACP Image Awards, airing tonight. Allhiphop.com reports that the initiative is being led by Reverend Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland, and the Enough is Enough Campaign for Corporate Responsibility in Entertainment. The Reverend expressed his outrage to San Jose-Mercury Sun.
“It is unconscionable that the NAACP would sully its brand, squander its legacy, and take such a stand contrary to the aspirations and dreams of the mainstream of the African-American community,” Coates said about the NAACP’s choice of rappers for the show,”
The nominees representing Hip Hop in this year’s awards include, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Diddy-Dirty Money, B.o.B. and others. Other religious figures like Rev. Lucious Smith, pastor of Pasadena Friendship Baptist Church compare rap mogul Sean” Diddy” Combs’ success to that of a Tobacco worker. “On one side these are young black men that are great business men, but on the other end it is like the tobacco business.” “In the end you get cancer.”
In reaction to several complaints, Joe Brown of Pasadena, California’s branch of the NAACP stated, that the nomination process would be reviewed to ensure that artists with dirty lyrics don’t get selected. “I think the national office is going to review the policy of the nominees and the participants,” Brown said. “Hopefully this will eliminate inviting those whose lyrics are considered disdainful.”
It is interesting to see these religious figures fighting the NAACP’s decision to nominate Hip Hop. On one hand, it is not hard to understand why. Some images and messages in the genre’s broadest aspects are deplorable. However, to catagorize this genre or any other on a snap shot understanding, is very close minded.
There is no way to argue for or against every image related to Hip Hop. With that said, these folks on the opposition need to remember that, celebrity excess aside, Hip Hop is an art that has done more to empower minorities of all types, than nearly any other form of entertainment in the last 30 years. To expect it to fall under the guidelines of this group’s subjective moral standard, is to forget that beauty is in the eye or ear of the beholder. Like life, not everything about the art of Hip Hop is going to be pretty, but it is the shock of Hip Hop’s grit that has allowed it be so progressive.
Besides, personal opinion on specific lyric choice and profanity use aside, nearly all of the nominees listed have made a conscious effort to create recent bodies of work that promote love, the value of self reflection, and desire to achieve and gain life experience. If there ever was a time to try and honor the positivity in Hip Hop, now might be it.The genre has matured and diversified well beyond the view these nay sayers have of it. Hip Hop transcend cultural and social economic boundaries, to aid in election of our current president. Vilifying it is a waste of energy. The Gangsta Rap era is over. It’s just not that simple anymore.