The public outcry over Rick Ross’deplorable lyric in Rocko’s single “U.O.E.N.O.” has opened a discourse among artists, fans and pundits regarding the state of hip-hop music and the pervasive influence of rape culture. The high-profile Steubenville rape case, in which Ohio high school football players were convicted of raping an unconscious girl, concluded only a few days prior to the song’s release and seems to have galvanized the outrage, with Ross at the center of a major media backlash.
Predictably, his response to the outcry was disingenuous and insulting. “I want to make sure this is clear,” Ross said during a radio interview. “Woman is the most precious gift known to man, you understand? It was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term ‘rape’ wasn’t used. I would never use the word ‘rape’ in my records. And as far as my camp — hip-hop don’t condone that, the streets don’t condone that. Nobody condones that, you understand me? I just wanted to reach out to all the queens that’s on my [Twitter] timeline, all the sexy ladies, the beautiful ladies that have been reaching out to me about the misunderstanding. We don’t condone rape and I’m not with that.”
Ross claims he was “misinterpreted.” But if so — how? What did he mean by rapping “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoy that, she ain’t even know it.”
That’s rape, Ross. Period. And I don’t believe for one second that he’s naïve or foolish enough to not realize it. He doesn’t think that the act he described is wrong, which is indicative of a much deeper problem.
But one rather disturbing recurring theme among some of the hip-hop fans and experts criticizing Ross has been that lyrics such as these “are not real hip-hop.” Ross and artists like him — those rappers that preach materialism and hedonism from the pulpits of popular radio and with the backing of major labels — are often dismissed as being false representations of the culture; co-conspirators in the commercialization and dumbing down of the music — reaping the benefits of selling violent and hypersexed fantasies to the masses.
But that’s not completely honest.