Congress To Hold Hearing On Hip-Hop

Congress To Hold Hearing On Hip-Hop

The lyrical content and imagery surrounding hip-hop will once again be under scrutiny as the United States Congress has set its first hearing to investigate media "stereotypes and degradation" of women, particularly African-American women, later this month.

According to Variety, the hearing entitled "From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degradation," has yet to be officially announced but is tentatively scheduled for September 25. Though hip-hop will be a big target, with lyrical content and videos set to be the primary focus, other media is also set to come under fire as well.

"I want to engage not just the music industry but the entertainment industry at large to be part of a solution," said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, which will hold the hearing.

Rush hopes to summon record label and entertainment company executives that control the distribution and content of rap music in an effort to examine industry practices as it relates to explicit and controversial content.

"I want to talk to executives at these conglomerates who've never taken a public position on what they produce," contends Rush. "But it's been surprisingly very difficult to get them to commit to appearing."

He also says that he has had to reschedule the hearing twice before to accommodate executives' schedules, as top industry heads Philippe Dauman of Viacom, Doug Morris of Universal Music Group and Edgar Bronfman Jr. of Warner Music Group are set to appear as witnesses.

Music mogul Master P is the lone artist to be included in the hearing so far. Though the list of witnesses is said to still be in the process of being finalized, Rush hopes to also have representatives from various African American women's groups appear before the hearing as well.

But an industry executive rebutted, saying that the difficulty assembling top execs had more to do with gathering the right people than anything else.

"Not everyone agrees that the top people are the same as the right people," the exec said, commenting that decisions to sign particular artists or distribute their CDs are often made at lower levels.

Recognizing that the hearing may appear to be an attack on hip- hop, Rush contends that the effort is "not an anti-artist hearing, or anti-music or anti-youth hearing."

"I respect the First Amendment, but rights without responsibility is anarchy, and that's much of what we have now. It's time for responsible people to stand up and accept responsibility."

A formal confirmation concerning the hearing is expected to be announced one week prior to the tentative date.

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