Censorship in my music

By Amira Harris

Should censorship be in music?

As politicians increasingly refuse to address genuine social inequalities, rappers speak about the beauty and ugliness of the world with equal candor, putting up a sharp mirror to reality. And they've received heavy verbal critiques for coming off so raw and uncut. Some of the genre's most cogent songs, for example, come in the form of blunt responses to police brutality in African American communities. They include anthems like "F—- Tha Police," a searing indictment of racial profiling by the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) recorded by one of rap's most influential groups, N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude), and musically re-tooled by one of its greatest producers, the late J Dilla, to address Detroit area police all the way to Ice-T's "Cop Killer," which calls for frustrated victims of anti-black police misconduct to "dust some cops off" (shoot or stab crooked cops). Clearly, the rapperati have no intention of getting Rodney Kinged, and aren't afraid to tell you. When the music is not taking vicious verbal swipes at injustices, it's doling out bushels of lyrics that carry some of the most offensive words in the English language. A mini-alphabet of forbidden words, including the B- and F word, appear with nauseating frequency. These are words that don't get remote consideration for inclusion on the CDs of other music genres. And would the use of the explosive N-word be debated today on CNN, in barbershops or in strip malls around the world if not for hip hop? Rap is the only genre of music where the term is widely used, despite most of its leading figures being African American, the community for whom the word was created by racists to disparage. N-word debates have flared up frequently in the US over the last few years, from shock jocks Don Imus to Bounty Hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman to Seinfeld's Michael "Kramer" Richards—all non-black performers who've used the form, implicitly claiming they are taking the lead from hip hop. Critics have also long argued that rap music's sexually explicit lyrics—where the use of "bitch" and "ho" to describe women and the unrepentant use of the word "fag(got)" are commonplace—contribute to the moral breakdown.Although some of the music is pretty violent and vulgar, that doesn't mean that there isn't any truth behind the swearing. What people fail to realize is that, my culture just doesn't rap for nonsense, we have things to actually say and stories that are true. Sometimes people just don't listen to us so we have to find alternative ways to get our points across.So really I think censorship shouldn't be in our music.

What is Censorship?

Censorship can be taken in a lot of forms, but what it all boils down to is, censorship is a method used to cover, blur, or replace an explicit version of something in attempts to make it more....synthetic. The world takes out the truth from every young artist and every wise older person, all because a "Damn" or "hell" gets slipped in a speech that people refuse to listen to.Historical and political perspectives demonstrate that music censorship and restriction in America are attempts at maintaining , middle-class social norms and silencing minority voices in an increasingly diverse nation. Rock and rap music continue to meet mainstream resistance, regulation, and censorship—as jazz and blues did in the previous decades—because of prominent ties to African American culture and the working class. Moreover, current laws such as the USA Patriot Act and ratings systems threaten the First Amendment rights and civil liberties of musicians who hold dissenting views on politics or dominant cultural values. Because it provokes much-needed criticisms and meaningful discussions about the issues facing the world, popular music must be protected against censorship and restriction.The force that has been pushed on my youth, calls for a cover up in our music, entertainment, and sometimes education. The taking out or censoring of my youths culture has become a big problem in the U.S and all over world wide. Not to many people are taking kindly to the cover up of our music. Not only does it have everyone in a fuss, but it's also defeating the First Amendment.

Censorship...BAD

So many argue that censorship is great! but in my eyes, it just covers up a truth. Sometimes people try to say things in a certain way but people don't listen, but when someone says the exact same thing but in a raw gritty way...censorship is called for. "F**k the police coming straight from the underground." A well known verse in the hit ep by N.W.A " F**k the police." The entire song touches base of the brutality form police, the entire song does contain graphic language, but it has gotten the point across.

What other cultures are taking a liking to the hiphop craze?

Much has been written about hip hop's gritty African American origins in the South Bronx, but the primary American consumers are young suburban whites whose fascination with black youth culture has led to Caucasian rappers Eminem and the Beastie Boys becoming What other cultures are taking a liking to the hiphop craze?creators of both the fastest selling rap album in history (The Marshall Mathers LP) and the first rap album to go number one on the Billboard album charts (Licensed to Ill), respectively. Once a predominantly African American youth form of expression, or as legendary hip hop group Public Enemy's lead vocalist Chuck D once called it, the "black people's CNN," rap has taken root around the world as a primary news source for disenfranchised Asian, South Asian, First Nations, Latin American, Australasian, African, Middle Eastern and European publics.Not only are African-american's making hip-hop music, but now other races are following in. Some people wonder how much censorship will come from the wave of newly developed artists who are of different race or gender.

Censorship Rally

Wednesday, May 18th, 6-8pm

6001 Airport Boulevard

Austin, TX

Wear all black, white converse, and have your signs ready for our peaceful demonstration on the censorship in music.

Who is being targeted in the censorship wrath?

The agency's fining Citadel Communications $7,000 on June 1 for airing a cleaned-up-for-radio version of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" on KKMG(FM) Colorado Springs, Colo., garnered a banner headline on the cover of this month's Rolling Stone and generated stories nationwide. Now everybody's watching, and it's unlikely the FCC commissioners can exit this mess without bloodying themselves.The majority of censorship is usually targeted towards minorities and people who associate themselves with the minority standard. It wasn't to much of a surprise when Eminem was being targeted by the FCC for vulgar explicit language in his art form of rap. It lead to a big outcry from my youths and my fellow minority people.

Who is enforcing censorship?

Historical and political perspectives demonstrate that music censorship and restriction in America are attempts at maintaining , middle-class social norms and silencing minority voices in an increasingly diverse nation. Rock and rap music continue to meet mainstream resistance, regulation, and censorship—as jazz and blues did in the previous decades—because of prominent ties to African American culture and the working class. Moreover, current laws such as the USA Patriot Act and ratings systems threaten the First Amendment rights and civil liberties of musicians who hold dissenting views on politics or dominant cultural values. Because it provokes much-needed criticisms and meaningful discussions about the issues facing the world, popular music must be protected against censorship and restriction.Our First Amendment clearly states that we have our freedom of speech, to say any and everything without any censorship. Although we have our "freedom" to say what we want and how we want it, our right is not at all entirely...free. We still have to watch what we say on tv and radio shows buy putting in little beeps or blurs to cover up our truths. The supreme court has even done a ruling for censorship in the U.S, as well as how the right of free speech is applied to a groups level rather than individually.

What has defined censorship? What can censorship help?


It may be as simple as South African musician Johnny Clegg has said: “Censorship is based on fear.” Music is a free expression of the ideas, traditions and emotions of individuals and of peoples. It may express musicians’ hopes and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their very identity as a culture. Yet these expressions may conflict with those of people in power. The ideas themselves may simply be unpopular or outside the current thinking or practices of a regime or special interest group. For there are those the world over who are threatened by the very nature of a free exchange of ideas. There are those who will stop at nothing to stifle them.The truth behind censorship is that there is fear in the ears of people who choose to cover up the truth, whether it is in a clean form or a explicit form, the most we can really do is voice our choices on the internet via social media.