David Banner Testifies At Congressional Hearing On Hip-Hop, "Drugs & Violence Were Around Long Befor
The hearing, titled "From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degradation," was put together by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, to examine the music industry's practices as it relates to explicit and controversial content.
According to The Associated Press, the hearing was also attended by Georgetown University Professor and Author Michael Eric Dyson, representatives of the National Congress of Black Women and top industry executives including Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Alfred Liggins III of Radio One, chief executive officer of Radio One, Edgar Bronfman Jr. chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group and Philippe Dauman, president & CEO of Viacom, which owns such cable networks as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET.
During the hearing, music videos showing scantily clad women were played and the uses of the word "b***h", "h*e" and 'ni**a' were discussed.
"This hearing is not anti-hip-hop. I am a fan of hip-hop," Rush, who was known for founding the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers during the 1960s, said. "[But] there is a need to address the issue of violence, hate and degradation that has reduced too many of our youngsters to automatons."
All parties seemed to disagree on who was to blame for the offensive material but they all opposed government censorship as a solution.
David Banner took the panel in hip-hop's defense saying the culture shouldn't be blamed for society ills.
"If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities," he said. "Drugs, violence and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed."
Master P, who chose to clean up his lyrics this year, told the panel he plans to continue to release non-explicit music and hopes his peers will follow suit.
"I just made the music that I feel, not realizing I'm affecting kids for tomorrow," explained the No Limit founder. "So if I can do anything today to change this, I'm going to take a stand and do that."
E. Faye Williams, chair of the National Congress of Black Women, said the entertainment industry should be held accountable.
"We have allowed greedy corporate executives - especially those in the entertainment industry - to lead many of our young people to believe that it is OK to entertain themselves by destroying the culture of our people," she said.
Industry executives argued that they go out of their way to edit material that may be deemed offensive but they are not in the business of censorship.
"We have a responsibility to speak authentically to our viewers," said Dauman. "[But] we also believe that it is not our role to censor the creative expression of artists."