Recently an old friend asked if I might be able to put together a mix tape.
Having watched this treasured art form first be reduced to CDs, then iPod playlists, I still consider myself an “OG” (original gangster) in the realm of mixes — regardless of how they are referred to or misused by the general public today.
While my musical taste seems to know no bounds, you might still find it as odd of a request as I did to discover that my friend wanted me to collect only rap music for her mix — not that there is anything wrong with that.
Again, I like all things music. For example, I have a Celine Dion album, songs of the Puyallup Canoe Family and so much more. While my heart and soul reside safely with Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones, I’m not a complete novice when it comes to rap or hip-hop. (Although I tried with R&B;, it didn’t take).
To be honest, I don’t have much in the rap/hip-hop categories. According to my computer, of the over 7,000 songs I have (all paid for in a record store or at a live show) only 357 posses the “rap” classifier.
While my rap collection seems light in comparison to the rock or alternative music collections I have amassed, I’m not ashamed of my taste. There are the staples: Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, Jay-Z. There are even some lesser knowns: The Saturday Knights, Cancer Rising, Del the Funky Homosapien.
In the end, however, and in the spirit of making a true-to-form “mix,” I needed more than my 357-song base.
As my friend indicated, the “need” for this mix was beyond urgent. Time was of the essence. Quickly I turned to the Internet.
During that exploration I discovered that back in February, Rocko released a mix tape of his own, “Gift of Gab 2,” which featured Rick Ross on the track “U.O.E.N.O.”
I had never heard of either, and with all the news they made since that release, it’s fair to assume I won’t be looking for much more from them after this.
What started it all, 21 little words: “Put Molly all in her champagne / She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / She ain’t even know it.”
Naturally, Ross has been on the defensive since the avalanche-like outcry over the “date rape” interpretation has grown.
According to Ross, he’s a poet — his raps are poetry — and part of being an artist is “clarify(ing) the sensitive things and the things that we know really need to be clarified.”
He’s yet to do that though. In fact, outside of his own crafting of the lyric in question, Ross implies that it's society that has the problem. That if we can’t understand what he is trying to actually say, through verse and dope beats, then the dirtiness we might find objectionable is on us, not the artist.
He was, after all, brave enough to take to his Facebook page to let the “queens” know that this is all a big “misunderstanding.” He doesn’t condone rape. He isn’t “with that.”
Nevertheless, as it has been mentioned more and more since “U.O.E.N.O” first broke its silence, our culture as a whole (to include our politicians and artists) has issues with rape, date rape, drug use, violence and a clear and blatant disregard for the complacency we continue to show on these matters.
And now there’s a petition. Regardless if you sign it or not or, if like Ross, you believe this to be a big misunderstanding of the artistic experience, our culture does have a problem with how we glorify aspects of life such as drugs, sex and violence.
It has gotten so bad that comedians feel justified in defending jokes on the subject of rape. Whether they’re using a metaphor, if they can make you laugh about rape, then it’s good to go.
Various “artists” have claimed that their work is meant to address the problem, to “start a conversation.” Yet, their only real contribution remains to be more fuel to burn rather than the extinguishing agent needed.
Life can imitate art or vice versa, it doesn’t really matter. Both are within our control.
As with mix tapes, if you respect your audience, you’ll have plenty to dance to.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @JOMOFO40