Hip-Hop Mogul Launches Lyric Crusade. Any Takers?

By Gabriel Sanders

Published April 27, 2007, issue of April 27, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons moved the Don Imus debate forward this week, with a call to the recording and broadcasting industries to “remove/bleep/delete” the words “bitch,” “ho” and “nigger.”

The Shmooze caught up with Simmons to see if he is hoping to enlist Jewish groups in his new campaign. His initial response was enthusiastic.

“Do for others what you expect for yourself,” said Simmons, who has appeared in public service announcements condemning antisemitism. “I don’t think this is a racial issue. It’s about loving everyone and wanting to lift everyone up.”

The music producer, however, was short on specifics regarding what he’d like to see from Jewish communal figures, saying he was reluctant to put words in other people’s mouths.

Rap lyrics present a thorny issue for Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, traditionally both defenders of free expression and crusaders against bigoted speech. Both lauded the Imus firing, with the ADL going so far as to say that the story should serve as a warning not only to other disc jockeys but to their “corporate underwriters.”

But will Jewish groups hold the music industry — and its numerous Jewish executives — to the same standard when it comes to rap? Maybe, maybe not.

“It’s good to see that the Imus situation has provoked renewed discussion in the African-American community about the rap artists,” AJCommittee spokesman Kenneth Bandler said. “But that’s something that their leadership needs to take the initiative on.”

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, emphasized that his group is no newcomer to the rap world, particularly when it comes to antisemitic lyrics. But asked if the ADL is prepared to tackle the issue of rap head-on, Foxman expressed reluctance. “If circumstances present themselves for us to participate in coalitions, we will,” he said. “First and foremost, African Americans have to come to grips with it.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.