Posts Tagged ‘Power 106’

On the 3rd episode of Take No Prisoners Radio, hosts Seb and Camille H discuss the rise of socially conscious mainstream rap, “ratchet rap” and cultural misappropriation. For the second half, Paul Porter, entertainment industry veteran & founder of RapRehab joins the show to reveal the music industry’s dirty secrets. Also, check out new music by Open Mike Eagle, De La Soul ft. Chuck D, RA the Rugged Man and Sa-Roc.


By now, the latest Hot 97 fiasco is already old news.  The station’s annual Summer Jam occurred, stupidity ensued, Chuck D took to Twitter to express his disgust with Hot 97′s misrepresentation of Hip Hop, and the station’s morning hosts, Ebro and Rosenberg, proceeded to insult Chuck by questioning his position and relevance in Hip Hop.  Rosenberg, self-proclaimed champion of Hip Hop had the audacity to say, “No one elected you president of Hip Hop. What are you doing to support this culture besides tweeting confusing messages in a 140 characters or less?

Hey Rosenberg, did you attend Chuck’s successful 2012 Hip Hop Gods tour that stations like Hot 97 never even promoted? Does that count as “supporting this culture”? Are you aware of everything that Chuck is working on or are you just a little out of sync with what’s going on outside of your station’s commercial rap world?

Message to Rosenberg and company: Hip Hop has its leaders and authority figures who have been appointed as such by virtue of their years in the culture, iconic status, commitment, and on-going contributions to Hip Hop. Only a fool would think otherwise.

But Rosenberg, Ebro, and the rest of the station’s staff are but a small part of the problem. Behind Hot 97′s lackeys stands Emmis Broadcasting, a company which owns various stations across the United States, including Hot 97 and Power 106 in Los Angeles. Both ranked as the world’s top “Hip Hop” radio stations, these two networks were launched by Rick Cummings, Emmis’ current President of Radio Programming.  Although he isn’t responsible for each and every song played on these stations, he’s undoubtedly the big dog programmer who Hot 97 and Power 106 program directors have to answer to.

Cummings, along with his colleagues, is the person who allows the N word, sex, violence, misogyny, drugs, and general disrespect of Black people to be promoted and glorified on his airwaves and events. He’s the guy who profits off the marketing of “entertainment” that celebrates dysfunction and ignorance. He’s the type of person who can remain virtually invisible and dodge any and all accountability because he has loyal worker bees who gladly defend the station’s agenda, no matter how destructive it is. He’s the type of cat who presents himself as a respectable professional while everything he promotes is far from respectable and professional behavior. He’s a culture vulture who makes it his business to exploit something he would never personally associate with if it wasn’t for the paycheck that comes with it.

But Cummings isn’t the only industry executive who maintains anonymity while cornball figureheads do the bidding of their unseen superiors. It happens all the time and these vampire-like execs always find someone willing to take the heat for them while they remain safe in the shadows. For fame and a little money, people can always be bought, even if it’s against their own self-interest.  Ebro and Rosenberg are just pawns in a huge chess game and Emmis isn’t even the biggest broadcasting company. Clear Channel, Radio One, Viacom and other media conglomerates all have their own program directors and sellout representatives who operate the same way for a paycheck. Today it’s Hot 97, next week it’ll be somebody else…and those who pull the strings will continue to remain hidden while the Rosenbergs of the world maintain their role as powerless yes-men.
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Time to open up a can of worms.

Firstly, for those who don’t know, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the government agency in charge of regulating all communication in the United States. They’re also responsible for monitoring explicit language, content, and images in public broadcasting. Despite having much less power over cable and satellite radio, they’re the reason why daytime TV doesn’t “usually” allow blatant cursing, why Janet Jackson can’t flash her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show, and why commercial radio stations only play the edited version of popular songs that would otherwise be not so “radio-friendly”.

According to the FCC, the broadcast of obscene, indecent and profane material can be unlawful. Broadcasters, including radio stations and TV networks, may be violating their public interest obligation by playing music which promotes explicit sex acts, drug use, rape, and other disturbing behaviors.

So why the hell are most popular radio stations and TV networks in the nation allowed to play music that does nothing but promote sex, drugs, violence and crime? Is there an ulterior agenda?

Here’s a section from the FCC’s website regarding the difference between obscene, indecent and profane broadcasts:


Obscene Broadcast:

Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be obscene, material must meet a three-pronged test:

1. An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.

2. The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law.

3. The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Indecent Broadcast Restrictions:

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.

The courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.

Consistent with a federal indecency statute and federal court decisions interpreting the statute, the Commission adopted a rule that broadcasts — both on television and radio — that fit within the indecency definition and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are prohibited and subject to indecency enforcement action.

Profane Broadcast Restrictions:

The FCC has defined profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.” Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited on broadcast radio and television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.


Amazing! Pretty much every song on the radio played between 6 am and 10 pm falls under the “obscene” category. The most laughable part is the third point of this three-pronged test which states that the material in question must lack “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value”. When was the last time you heard your local commercial radio station play a song that possesses literary, artistic, political or scientific value? Was it Rick Ross? What about YG? Maybe some Chief Keef or 2 Chainz? How about Beyonce’s Drunk in Love where she talks about riding “the surfboard” and drinking “watermelon”, two little known sexual innuendos that younger audiences are now quite aware of.

According to the FCC, it’s up to the public to file an official complaint regarding obscene, indecent, or profane material. After an investigation, the FCC may find a broadcaster in violation of the law and issue a warning, a fine or revoke the station’s license.

Correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t most U.S. stations, including the top two urban stations in the nation, Power 106 in Los Angeles and Hot 97 in New York, violated these laws a million times since their existence? Haven’t countless campaigns been waged against the broadcast of explicit material? Late last year, the Clear the Airwaves Project based out of Chicago met with representatives of Power 92.3 and WGCI to address the on-going broadcast of obscene, indecent, and profane music and its impact on young listeners.  Unfortunately, nothing came of it. Again, this campaign was one of hundreds of organized efforts to address the matter. Yet nothing ever changes.  Are we to believe that these grievances were indeed reviewed by the FCC and ultimately considered invalid? Why are years of complaints and public protests continuously ignored?  Does the material being protested not meet the FCC’s three-pronged test?

So what’s really going on? If radio stations and TV networks risk paying fines or losing their broadcasting licenses by playing obscene, indecent, or profane material, why are so many broadcasters disregarding FCC laws? And let’s be honest. While the radio-edited version of a song does indeed censor explicit language, it doesn’t change the nature of a song whose overall obscene message is quite clear according to “contemporary community standards”. After all, isn’t that the very reason why they play it in the first place; because everyone knows what the song is really about no matter how many words are edited?

However, in a disturbing twist of events, the following songs were considered inappropriate and censored by the industry itself without the filing of a public complaint like the FCC claims to require in order to rectify the matter.

* In the 1994 song “Juicy”, Biggie says, “Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade”. Of course, he was referring to the first 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which took place 8 years before the 9/11 disaster. After 9/11, and 4 years after Biggie’s death, the words “World Trade” were edited from all versions out of respect for those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

* In the 1997 song “It’s All About the Benjamins”, Jadakiss raps, “You should do what we do, stack chips like Hebrews”. The word “Hebrews” was deemed insensitive and edited for radio. Later, in 2004, Jadakiss was again the subject of censorship when his song “Why” accused President Bush of being responsible for 9/11. The word “Bush” was eventually edited out of the song.

* In the 2003 song “Rooster” by Outkast, Big Boi says, “Like a candle in the wind, she was my friend, like Princess Di before she died”. This line was taken out even on the explicit version of the album.

* In the 2004 song “All Falls Down”, Kanye West says, “Drug dealers buy Jordans, crack heads buy crack and the white man gets paid off of all that.” The label censored the words “white man” from the song and video because it was deemed offensive.

* Although not rap, but in the 1996 song “They Don’t Care About Us”, Micheal Jackson sings about the pain that racism and discrimination causes and uses various racial epithet to illustrate the point. Along many ethnic slurs listed in the song, one of them is considered anti-semitic and offensive to the Jewish community. Michael apologized and explained that the song was against discrimination but was eventually forced to re-record the song without the offensive terms.

There are too many other similar examples to list here.

What is it about these songs that were deemed more obscene, indecent, or profane than the rest of the music we hear everyday? Why the double standard?  After all, the FCC claims to care enough about the impact of inappropriate material to have laws that restrict the broadcast of such material “during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience”?  Is the glorification of misogyny, drugs, violence, and explicit sex acts not as obscene, indecent, or profane as lyrics that refer to 9/11, former president Bush, Princess Di, and white people? Is the FCC more invested in protecting the ears of “certain groups of people” over Black listeners to the point where they’ll actually enforce their laws without the supposedly required filing of a public complaint like so many Black organizations have done for years with no success?

Of course, FCC laws have two loopholes they can stand behind:

  1. 1.    In making obscenity, indecency and profanity determinations, context is key. The FCC staff must analyze what was actually aired, the meaning of what was aired and the context in which it was aired.
  2. An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest.

Context can be a challenging factor to establish for someone who doesn’t understand the very real impact the music in question has on impressionable listeners.  As well, the extremely vague concept of “contemporary community standards” can change according to the community being affected.  In this case, years of community protest, outrage, and campaigning haven’t made a difference.  Unfortunately, it seems the community standards the law was referring to doesn’t apply to the communities most affected.  Why?

I’ve been told time and time again that the entertainment industry is a business whose only responsibility is to make money, not raise children or solve social problems. While I understand a corporation’s bottom line is profit and that parents are in charge of raising their own kids, if the industry isn’t expected to uphold certain morals and values, why does the FCC have laws to safeguard children from explicit broadcast? Why do CD’s still have parental warning stickers? Why does the film industry rate movies based on content and age appropriateness?

Just who are these rules meant to protect?

Now, I’m not suggesting that an artist’s freedom of speech be banned. Some of my favorite artists who create meaningful albeit controversial content would be affected as a result. As a writer, my own freedom of expression would be impacted. What I am pointing out is that there appears to be a blatant double standard when it comes to how FCC laws are enforced. Such overt disregard for these laws gives me the uneasy feeling that something fishy is going on…and I suspect RACE may have something to do with it. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time.

FCC, we need answers. This is your opportunity to clear the air. The ball is in your court.  We’re waiting.

For those of you who have signed my last petition, I’d like to let you know that I have joined forces with Rap Rehab and will now be promoting the following campaign instead. The goal is the same, the approach is more strategic. Thank you in advance for your support.
In 2012, a drug named Molly, made up of pure MDMA (Ecstasy’s active ingredient) flooded the music industry and made its way into countless rap lyrics. Last month, February 2013, Lil’ Wayne sparked national outrage when he disrespected the memory of slain civil rights martyr Emmitt Till in his lyrics by comparing his brutal beating to a sex act. This month, rapper Rick Ross stirred nationwide controversy as a result of lyrics that encourage drugging a woman to force her into sex. Mainstream rap has been suffering from repulsive content for a long time but this latest wave of filth is our breaking point. WE HAVE HIT ROCK BOTTOM!
While Lil Wayne and Rick Ross as well as 2 Chainz, Trinidad James, Chief Keef and many others should be held accountable for the content of their music, the companies which promote them are just as much to blame. Year after year, the mainstream music industry aggressively markets rappers who celebrate irresponsible and criminal behavior while ignoring the countless conscientious rap artists who deserve the same amount of publicity. Record companies, TV networks and radio stations make millions from this type of music which we all know has a huge influence on young people. While it is far from being the only contributing factor to the various ills plaguing our youth, mainstream rap music undoubtedly plays a significant part. At a time when urban communities are suffering due to high unemployment rates, limited access to quality health care, gun violence, failing schools and institutionalized discrimination, the last thing we need is a “musical soundtrack” to accompany these conditions. The music industry has a huge influence on young listeners and profits from their blind support with no concern of the social impact.
Now, we demand change.
We are asking for:
1) A system of safe guards that protects your consumers and more importantly the general public from illegal references promoting rape, drug use, violence and misogyny.
2) A concerted effort to test, market and promote more positive and conscientious rap artists. Grammy Award winner, Lecrae is a prime example of a hip hop artist who is highly profitable and more importantly positive.
3) To remember your consumers, partners and share holders that have the same values that you share with your family, children and relatives. The images you share with your children are universally appropriate for all communities.
4) Finally, we request a literacy outreach program that is promoted and endorsed by your company and artists. This long cycle of degrading images has caused many youth to be guided in the wrong direction by the artists that you aggressively promote. We do not expect you to be parents – only responsible members of the communities you profit from.
Click HERE to sign the petition.


I was recently asked this question and decided to answer with the following thoughts.

Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America? To answer this question fairly, we must first discard the distorted image of Hip Hop that mainstream media has passed off for the past 20 years. Hip Hop is a movement consisting of 4 main artistic elements: DJ’ing, Rapping, Breaking and Graffiti. But at its core, it is a philosophy based on the idea that self expression is an integral part of the pursuit of peace, love and unity. It was created by young visionaries who tapped into their greatest potential and gave birth to one of the most important cultural phenomenon the world has ever seen. Shaped by the spirit of Africa, The Carribean and Black America, it is a culture that binds us under the belief that we must strive for excellence through our respective artforms, as well as within our souls. It’s a lifestyle that unites people from the U.S to Nigeria, France to Brazil, Japan to Mexico, often unable to speak each other’s language but fully capable of understanding all that makes us who we are. True Hip Hop is the MC who raps from the heart or enlightens the people. It is the DJ who speaks with his hands. It is the 6 year old B-girl who break dances like her life depends on it or a group of young dancers whose moves defy gravity effortlessly. It is the graffiti artist whose shapes and colors breathe new life onto gritty city landscapes or the beatboxer who manipulates sounds like a one-man orchestra. It’s the aspiring politician who genuinely reflects the people she represents, the progressive educators who give voiceless youth a platform to express their deepest thoughts and the grassroots activists who launch campaigns against a corrupt music industry. For millions of people here and abroad, this is Hip Hop, the way it was meant to be…and it is NOT destroying Black America.

If this doesn’t sound like the kind of Hip Hop you’re familiar with, blame the music industry and mainstream media for bombarding you with a steady diet of rappers talking about drugs, sex and violence for over two decades. Blame MTV, BET, and other networks for trying to redefine what Hip Hop is in order to sell it and shove it down the throats of unsuspecting consumers. It’s easy to blame simple minded rappers for promoting negative messages and images while multi billion dollar companies and shrewd businessmen who market these artists are free from criticism. It’s easy to blame someone like Chief Keef who becomes the obvious poster boy for mindless rap while Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope Records, keeps a low profile and avoids having to address his part in promoting “death through entertainment”. It’s easy to protest flavor of the month Trinidad James who raps about Molly, the industry’s latest fashionable drug, while Def Jam’ president Joie Manda proclaims his new discovery as “the cutting edge of what’s happening in the culture today.” It’s easy to blame talentless top 40 rappers for dominating the airwaves of so called hip hop radio stations like L.A.’s Power 106 or New York’s Hot 97 while Rick Cummings, president of programming for Emmis Communications, which owns both stations, isn’t held accountable for his part in broadcasting filth to millions of listeners.

Time and time again, the real decision makers get away with murder while rap artists are projected as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with Hip Hop and young Black males.

Kind of how gangs are perceived as the lone cause of urban violence while those who bring guns and drugs into the community remain anonymous.

Kind of how so many young Black men are written off as criminals and sent to prison in disproportionate numbers while the system that causes this tragedy is profiting from growing incarceration rates.

Kind of how Black students are labeled as troubled underachievers while school districts across the nation, including Philadelphia and Chicago, continue to close down schools in predominantly Black communities to save money.

And all of it devalues the lives of Black people in exchange for financial gain.

So is Hip Hop really destroying Black America? No. The challenges facing Black America are much bigger than Hip Hop. But for what it’s worth, when untainted by outside influences and corporate vultures, Hip Hop in its purest form is about empowerment, unity, culture, creativity and hope.  And God knows we need it.


Sebastien Elkouby is a Hip Hop Culture historian and award-winning educator. He is responsible for the 2013 campaign to promote conscious rap music. Check out his educational program, Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture and his blog, Contact him at or on Twitter @SebIsHipHop.