“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
We’re not accomplishing anything by demonizing Rick Ross. Ignorance is not inherent evil and shouldn’t be treated as such. Think of it this way: if Ross thought it was okay to pen such a lyric and we’re just now hearing the backlash about it, there are legions of Rick Ross fans who heard it before now and thought it was A-OK. That should scare you. I’m not worried about Rick Ross because I honestly don’t think he’s actually doing what he says like most rappers wh0 rap about an extravagant, blatantly ignorant lifestyle. What I’m concerned with is getting the youth to understand that rape isn’t just physically forcing a woman into sexual acts using violence or threats of violence. It’s any situation where a woman is not in her right mind or physical capacity to either consent or to say no and someone still takes advantage of that situation sexually. I really don’t think some of the youth and even some misguided adults know that. Not to mention the fact that rappers are running around acting like MDMA (“Molly”) is something to be giving cute nicknames to and writing trite little jingles about.
I’ve heard many critics use this issue to ridicule Ross for his weight and intelligence level (or lack thereof) and also to say that Rick Ross is not a part of hip-hop. Talib Kweli made the point that if you exclude someone from hip-hop, you position yourself as an enemy and immediately make yourself someone who is not to be listened to. I personally don’t care whether or not Ross learns anything, but if you’re going to spark a constructive dialogue with the youth who are caught in the middle of this debate and not understanding why people are upset, the solution isn’t to tell them that their favorite artist is trash. You only succeed in positioning yourself as someone they can’t relate to. So if the goal was to alienate yourself, then bravo. I’m the first to say I’ve enjoyed some of Ross’ work since the beginning of his career. It’s pretty safe to say he won’t be featured any longer on this particular blog, but that’s also due to the declining quality of his work. Will I be taking “Ten Jesus Pieces” out of my iPod any time soon? Not based on this, no. Rappers and musicians of all kinds have said horrible things and rape language has been present in music for years. That doesn’t, however, mean that this issue shouldn’t be addressed with regard to this lyric. You can cite a rap lyric from years ago that hinted at rape, but remember that music has never been more accessible than it is today, nor has news coverage. The more people that have access to the lyric, the more will be outraged by it and the more people will hear it and think nothing of it. Artists don’t owe it to us to be socially aware and responsible, but I do believe the conversation needs to be had…Ross isn’t the first to rap about rape, but is probably the first to do so at a point of such high visibility in the public eye.
The main issue I have with the reactions toward Ross’ lyric is that it’s being made into a Black issue or a hip-hop issue. At Rick Ross’ level, the people who support his music are probably not primarily Black, in terms of stats. This is an issue of rape culture in America as a whole. This is an issue of re-opening the discussion and making people understand the different instances where rape can occur. Hip-hop is also not to blame, as violence and misogyny is not something that our culture spawned. Sure, leaders of our community may feel obligated to step forward on the issue and kudos to them, but to confine this to a “us” conversation is a major disservice. As a parent myself, it makes more sense to me to tend to my own son’s understanding of entertainment vs. reality than to expend my energy trying to police Hollywood and the music industry and call them to task for not raising my son correctly. It takes a village to raise a child and though sometimes entertainment can play a bigger part than is healthy within that village, a lack of foundation will cause a child to go astray even if they never listen to one “rape lyric” or watch one violent film. Mind you, I’m not condoning Rick Ross’ ignorance or his poor excuse for an apology, but I am calling people to task for not putting their energy in the right places…the places that will really get a useful dialogue going and hopefully shed light on the larger issues at hand.