A friend of mine and I got into a discussion the other day after Monday night’s airing of the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. We found ourselves hovering over the topic of 2 Live Crew and whether or not their contribution to hip-hop was one worth celebrating. I flashed back to my junior high and high school dance days, grinding close to some boy as soon as I heard the unforgettable bass line and drums of I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown). The memories were fond ones for me, and I immediately thought, “Of course they deserve to be honored – Luke and ‘nem been in the game since forever”. My friend, however, had a different perspective. As she expressed, “watching Kid Rock give Luke props for starting the booty shake phenomenon” was not something to be celebrated. I had to let that marinate.
It’s true – 2 Live Crew and their pornographic-style of rap set off a trend in hip-hop music, and more importantly in music videos. The images in those videos evolved into a decade-long parade of scantily-clad women of color, cars, and money, and giving directors like Hype Williams millions of dollars in business and a catalog of hip-hop porn videos. The beats grabbed our ears and the videos captured our attention, shouting the message, “this is the life.” Almost 15 years later, these images still resonate in all genres of music videos and the current generation is less sensitive to images of sex, and tend to express themselves sexually a lot quicker than the kids of my generation.
Nonetheless, 2 Live Crew and their brand of XXX hip-hop had it’s place in the industry, in spite of the negative effects it might have had on future generations. Luke, by his own admission, said they were surprised by their success because “they weren’t talking about shi*t “, but the music became extremely popular almost instantly. Bass and drum heavy beats coupled with pornographic lyrics equaled success for 2 Live Crew – and since they were the innovators of this type of music, an award is due.
Let’s face it: our generation is the reason a group like 2 Live Crew attained any success. Even if their lyrics were freaky, we all did what they rapped about, in spite of it’s impropriety. Like porn, kinky music has its appeal – and like in our youth, the visuals that accompany it should be relegated to “adults only”. Unfortunately, we’ve gone too far to place a cap on that imagery now, and thankfully, many of us had a balance of images to keep us from being scarred. But I wish media outlets like VH1 that are in the position to influence the current generation with their programming, gave more thought to what artists they put on a pedestal, or at least offered a balanced perspective. After all, I can think of many deserving hip-hop artists that VH1 continues to overlook.
But maybe, on VH1’s part, that would be too much like right…