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What if a radio station in America inundated listeners with anti-Semitic insults? Hip-hop artist and activist Chuck D. thinks the response to such a radio station would be one of outrage, but urban radio stations hurl the “N” word at blacks incessantly and suffer absolutely no repercussions.
Chuck D. was set off partly due to New York’s recent Summer Jam festival, which, according to The Guardian, he referred to as “SummerSLAVEJam.”
Radio station Hot 97 organized the Summer Jam, which Chuck D. called “sloppy”, but he also singled out Hot 97 as a “COREPlantation” and included the station in his general criticisms about urban radio.
Hot 97 co-hosts Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg responded to the criticism late last week.
“I assume what he was trying to get at is what a lot of people say as far as blaming Hot 97 and radio in general for the demise of hip-hop culture,” Rosenberg told Billboard Thursday. “In Chuck’s case, and what I thought made his points particularly not salient, was he was like blaming the ills of the world basically on radio. Like talking about the prison system and all these terrible things that he was basically attributing to the powers that be.”
Chuck D. also wants radio to be more diverse, a charge which Darden says is without merit since the station is responding to consumers.
“I think there’s validity to what he’s saying as to, ‘I guess Hot 97 could be more local,” Darden said. “But people that listen to us when we research the songs don’t vote those songs high enough to stay around. I have this debate and I put the onus back on the public to participate.”
On June 2nd, Chuck D. tweeted, “What a sloppy fiasco @hot97 in NYC has made of HipHop. #culturalCrime.”
“If there was a festival and it was filled with anti-Semitic slurs … or racial slurs at anyone but black people, what do you think would happen?” he later asked Billboard. “Why does there have to be such a double standard?”
Chuck D. has said that urban radio is a “malignant cancer” that disrespects African-Americans.
Dr. Boyce Watkins, author of the lecture series, “Commercialize hip-hop: The gospel of self-destruction,” says that Chuck D is not only correct, but that he is also needed in the hip-hop community.
“I think any person who understands hip-hop knows that the genre has lost it’s way,” says Dr. Watkins. “But only those of us who understand how corporate America works to perpetuate capitalist racial oppression can see just how damaging this business model has become. It’s as if the radio station managers are Nαzi soldiers under orders from corporate masters to exterminate the minds of black youth. Even they know how dangerous this music can be, but they push it for the money.”