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Hip-Hop Fridays: Is Rap Music Bad For Black Kids? Ja Rule Answers The Question

(MSNBC - December 17th) Filmmaker Spike Lee attacked rap and hip-hop recently, saying that the music was bad for black kids. Speaking to an audience of more than 400 students Dec. 1, the director of films including “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” repeated the complaints he’s made at colleges and universities over the past year: “I’ve always felt you can feel the progress of African Americans by listening to their music,” Lee said. “Some of this ‘gangsta rap’ stuff, it’s not doing anybody any good. This stuff is really dangerous.”

( Editor's Note: Here is the transcript of Ja Rule's recent appearance on "Scarborough Country")

SCARBOROUGH: Filmmaker Spike Lee attacked, rap and hip-hop recently, saying that the music was bad for black kids. The comments caused a firestorm and with us tonight to talk about whether hip-hop is getting a bad rap is Ja Rule, a big rap star and I think more importantly, a big supporter of our troops. Ja Rule, thanks for being with us and does Spike Lee have a point? Is rap music bad for black kids?

JA RULE, HIP HOP ARTIST: I don‘t—I think that‘s a big statement to make, to put that on rap. He said rap is bad for black kids or any kids because it‘s so wide, it reaches all—every audience, white kids as well.

SCARBOROUGH: What do you make, though, of Spike Lee‘s statement? Why do you think Spike lee, who‘s been a leader in the African American entertainment industry for years now, why do you think he‘d make that type of statement? There are many other African American leaders who agree with him.

RULE: Well, I mean you know, I just had a sit-down with Minister Farrakhan, and he doesn‘t feel that hip-hop is dangerous. He feels that, you know, we need a hug sometimes. You know, we go through I would have to say a very different lifestyle than say a pop artist, say Britney Spears or a Justin Timberlake. We grow up in hoods and ghettos of America that are very rough and we tell these tales through our music. And for Spike to say that, you know, we‘re making it violent or dangerous, I mean, the ghetto and hoods where I grew up and most rap artists grew up have been very dangerous way before there was rap music. So, you know I don‘t think that we have put any type of different spin on it at all.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I want you to take a look at these lyrics. These are by Ludacris and it says, “If all y‘all don‘t like it, get the—blank back because my—blank—is ready. Let‘s show these—blank—how we disturb the peace—blank—lot of blanks here—that get the—blank—back Luda make your skull crack.”

And I know I inspire you the way I read those lyrics. It just kind of rolls off, baby. You can almost feel people dancing out there on the other side. But seriously, can you understand why Spike Lee and other parents are worried about their kids listening to this music day in and day out? Or do you think it‘s just a part of growing up in the 21st century?

RULE: I mean, I don‘t—you know, I think it‘s being taken way out of proportion. You know Ludacris got a commercial taken from them, a Pepsi commercial taken from them because of lyrical content, you know. But they let Papa Roach do the same Pepsi commercial right after that...


RULE: ... like his lyrical content is any different from what you know Ludacris may have said. He may say it different, but it‘s basically you know the same message of struggle and what‘s going on in the inner cities, you know, with our youth. And I don‘t think Spike‘s statement was basically made towards all rappers, you know...


RULE: I make records that are not all focused on what goes on in the hood. You know I make records that focus on women, like “I‘m Real”...


RULE: ... and records like that. So, I think there is an area where violence and things like that are talked about in hip-hop, but it‘s only a message being sent to the youth for them to understand what we go through, to get where we‘re at. You know, we go through a lot to come up in this business.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, one final question. Quickly, tell our viewers why you think it‘s important for you to get out there and support our troops the way you have.

RULE: I mean, you‘ve got to be a supporter of our country. You live in it. You know, we make a lot of money, and there‘s no other country that we could live in and make this kind of money off of this music and be sitting here on MSNBC on your show talking about the debate of is hip-hop too violent or not? You know, so there‘s no other country that you can go and have these kind of issues and make money and live free. So, America is the best country to live in and I support the troops 100 percent and you know I always come out and support you all, so it‘s love.



SCARBOROUGH: ... listen, we may disagree on some things, but I certainly agree with you on that and greatly appreciate you being here tonight and hope you come back.

RULE: Thank you, man. Thanks a lot.


Friday, December 19, 2003

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