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The growing contingent of African American women, which weeks ago established a nationwide “Respect Me” Coalition that also includes many of the most powerful Black leaders in America, took their fight to billionaire record label Interscope on Wednesday, May 30.
“We’re not dissing rap music or the artists, but we are demanding a channel for dialog with the decision makers to change lyrics and stop making videos that are degrading to women and ruining our culture,” said Brenda Marsh-Mitchell who is one of key figures guiding the movement. Renowned national civil rights activist The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Los Angeles Sentinel Publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. spearheaded the movement.
Joined by a bevy of community advocates and leaders representing mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, nieces and the entire female gender, hundreds of women converged upon the offices of Interscope Records in Santa Monica because their written demands to the label president James “Jimmy” Iovine have gone ignored.
The “Respect Me” Coalition sent a letter to Iovine requesting a meeting for dialog, but it did not receive a response and at the urging of its members, they decided to take their plight directly to the label.
Interscope is one of the most powerful record companies in the world and boasts a roster of such rap stars as 50 Cent, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Dr. Dre, Freddie Gibbs, Young Buck, The Fixxers, Tony Yayo, Rich Boy and Timbaland among others.
While the coalition is not targeting any of these artists specifically, it is suggesting that the label and others which record and profit from music degrading women change their way of making music.
Moreover the group is requiring that women be hired in positions of influence.
Efforts to reach representatives of Iovine were not successful.
At the top of the Interscope star-studded roster is 50 Cent who has sold 20 million albums worldwide, including his solo debut, which sold 12 million.
From 50 Cent’s “Power of the Dollar” album which featured “Material Girl 2000,” that song included the lyrics “If the b*****don’t like me somethin’ wrong with the b****.
One of his top selling singles, “Candy Shop” (2005), contained this suggestive chorus, “I’ll take you to the candy shop/ I’ll let you lick the lollipop/ go ahead girl, don’t you stop/ keep going til you hit the spot.”
In April 2005, Reebok pulled one of his sneaker commercials off the air after receiving protests for its glamorization of guns. A similar incident happened in October of that year during promotion for his movie debut “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.”
Billboards posted near schools were protested by parents because it featured him holding a gun and appeared to promote gangs and gun violence. The billboards were eventually taken down.
However, the rap star’s popularity has since soared allowing him to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from such companies as Coca Cola and Reebok. In 2006, Rolling Stone reported that he was the second wealthiest person in the rap industry behind Diddy.
“There are aspiring rap artists who make songs with clean lyrics that are not degrading women and they cannot get a record deal. The pandering of the sort of garbage that Interscope profits from has to come to an end for the sake of our young people,” coalition member Bobbi Parks declared.