Hip-Hop Fridays : Sisqo, the Hip-Hop artist

I stared at the category arrangements in disbelief. MTV did it again. They found a way to disrespect Hip-Hop again, but the style of the dis was updated for the year 2G. MTV actually had two Hip-Hop categories: 1) Best Rap Video 2) Best Hip-Hop video. And who wins the Hip-Hop video award? Of course… Sisqo. Huh?!?!?! Yes, Sisqo that R&B talent, wins the Hip-Hop video award.

And to be very blunt the reasons for his victory, in my opinion were political. Sisqo certainly had a big year with a huge hit " The Thong Song". But it was just that - a song. You know, R&B -- where people sing and dance not Hip-Hop where people spit lyrics and stalk the stage.

The politics runs like this: artists like Sisqo and even D'Angelo are enormously popular among Black audiences, have cross over appeal and white girls like them but they and R&B don't gain acceptance among MTV's hard-core rock audience and therefore are often a hard fit for MTV's programming. But they are too innovative and popular to ignore and their loyalty to MTV has to be recognized somehow.

[Not to mention the persistent rumors that record labels pay to have their artists' videos played on MTV]

So, if you are MTV, what do you do, especially when Sisqo hosts some of your most popular programming and appears frequently at MTV special events? You engineer his victory in the "Hip-Hop" category. Plain and simple. He did not deserve it because he is not a Hip-Hop artist. And even he knows that. R&B groups can get love from Hip-Hop artists and fans but they are not Hip-Hop artists.

The most popular R&B artists ever among Hip-Hop fans are Mary J. Blige and Jodeci but they never endorsed their own invasion into the hip-Hop category. They have too much respect for the art form and what it has meant to their own careers.

It was disappointing to see Sisqo accept the award without admitting that he didn't deserve it. But I guess he did what he had to do. If it were me, I would have handed the award to the Hip Hop artist that I felt deserved it in the category and walked off the stage.

But Hip-Hop has no one to blame but itself for this latest sleight. If they respected their own award show -- The Source Awards, they could have ignored the MTV awards by now. But we all know about the "love" the Hip-Hop industry and some of its "fans" showed for their own event last month.

And because MTV is so important to the platinum selling prospects of Hip-Hop artists they continue to make MTV their home away from home and take insult after insult from the network. It is no coincidence that MTV would dis Hip-Hop the way it has.

Whatever happened to Yo! MTV Raps? The network has never made a firm commitment to an all-rap show although they are trying to roll out another show this fall that "respects" Hip-Hop culture.

In any event, I was happy to see Eminem win the Video of the Year Award at the end of the show but I never recovered from Sisqo's victory in the Hip-hop category. I guess that is what I get for not being prepared for the slap in the face for Hip-Hop audience that MTV always has lying in the cut. Sisqo is hot …he just ain't Hip-Hop.

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, September 8, 2000