Def Jam founder calls for voluntary removal of racially offensive words

Russell Simmons says hip-hop lyrics are derogatory

Def Jam founder and Hip-Hop Summit Action co-chairman Russell Simmons today (April 23) called for offensive words regularly used in hip-hop to be categorised as “extreme curse words”.

The call comes in the wake of a recent controversy involving American radio host Don Imus, whose show was cancelled after he called a women’s college basketball team ‘nappy-headed ho’s’.

Despite a previous statement in which Simmons and HSAN co-chairman Benjamin Chavis said that hip-hop lyrics “may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression”, they today stated that with freedom of expression comes social responsibility, saying:


HSAN is concerned about the growing public outrage concerning the use of the words ‘bitch’, ‘ho’, and ‘nigger’. We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ and the racially offensive word ‘nigger’.

The statement continues:

“Going forward, these three words should be considered with the same objections to obscenity as “extreme curse words.” The words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ are utterly derogatory and disrespectful of the painful, hurtful, misogyny that, in particular, African American women have experienced in the United States as part of the history of oppression, inequality, and suffering of women. The word ‘nigger’ is a racially derogatory term that disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial oppression, and multiple forms of racism against African Americans and other people of color.

They emphasised that they are not advocating censorship in music and are instead keen to discuss the “corporate social responsibility

of the industry to voluntarily show respect to African Americans and other people of colour, African American women and to all women in lyrics and images”.

–By our New York staff.


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