Oprah Responds to Hip-Hop Criticism
In the past few weeks, rappers Ludacris and 50 Cent have openly condemned Winfrey, who appeared on Ed Lover's Power 105.1 radio show yesterday (May 11) to defend her side of the story.
"I listen to some Hip-Hop. I've been accused of not liking Hip-Hop and that's just not true," she said. "I got a little 50 [Cent] in my iPod. I really do. I like 'In Da Club.' Have you heard the beat to 'In Da Club'? Love that, love Jay-Z, love Kanye, love Mary J. Mary J. is one of my friends."
The backlash against Winfrey sparked last year after Ludacris appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to promote his co-starring role in the film Crash.
While discussing the movie's racial subject matter with the other cast members, Winfrey interrogated Ludacris about his notoriously raunchy lyrics.
The rapper addressed the incident in the May issue of GQ Magazine, stating that Winfrey edited his comments out of the show.
He also revealed that he wasn't invited to appear on the show initially, and that he felt Winfrey's questioning was inappropriate considering the fact that he appeared on the show as an actor.
"What I got was that by having rappers on her show, she feels like she is empowering in them. It was like being at someone's house who doesn't really want you there," Ludacris told GQ. "I don't see why Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, who I am huge fans of, it's OK for them to go on Oprah. They speak the same language as I do, but they do it through comedy, so I guess that's acceptable to her."
Winfrey said she and Ludacris continued their conversation after the show, as she attempted to explain why she put the rapper in the hot seat.
"I said 'Look Ludacris, you are so smart. You are one of the brilliant guys. I used to have the Klan on and the skinheads on and I looked out in the audience and I saw contact being made between the guys in the audience and the stage and they were like, 'Yeah get her, get her, get her, Bud,'" she said. "At that moment, I was doing nobody any good [by] putting those people on because I realized that that platform was being seen and heard by a lot of people who weren't as smart as I am.
"My idea was, I want y'all to know that this is what's going on," Winfrey continued. "And I said to Ludacris, 'A lot of people who listen to your music aren't as smart as you are. So they take some of that stuff literally when you are just writing it for entertainment purposes.'"
Ludacris isn't the only rapper who has claimed to be offended by Winfrey's actions, however.
50 Cent told the Associated Press that rappers are a rarity on her show.
"I think she caters to older white women." 50 said, adding that "Oprah's audience is my audience's parents. So, I could care less about Oprah or her show. I'm actually better off having friction with her."
While Winfrey expressed her love of Hip-Hop to Ed Lover, she also decried the misogyny prevalent in the music and stressed that there are many different aspects of Hip-Hop.
The media mogul said she personally felt the worldwide impact of rap during an encounter with a security guard for African political leader Nelson Mandela.
According to Winfrey, the guard greeted her group by saying "Hello n***as."
Winfrey explained to Ed Lover that the guard thought it was the norm because they watched videos and listened to rap music.
Lover later told Winfrey that he would never use the word 'b***h' again.
Hip-Hop's power is undeniable, Winfrey acknowledged, as she noted the music's growing influence years ago, as well as the accompanying responsibility.
"Years and years ago, Quincy Jones and I had this conversation about the evolution of Hip-Hop and what it really means to our culture," Winfrey said. "Hip-Hop is like jazz and gospel music, evolved from the people, a form of protest, a form of expression so you can't deny that, nor would I try. But I do believe there needs to be awareness of who we are, how we got here and what that means about staying here."