Asher Roth and Why Rappers Need "Nappy Headed Ho’s"

Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Bryon Hurt

28:20 sec Women respond to being called Bitch’s on the street at BET’s Spring Bling
29:43 sec “If George Bush called you a Nigga you would think he was talking about you.”
43:00 sec “You can’t go to a label with self destruction, you will self destruct.”
46:10 sec Jadakiss, “after seven hundred thousand records its all white people buying the records.

First off, let me start off by saying that I love hip hop. Love it.
Every since I was 8 years old and my brother gave me my first dub of
LL Cool J’s “Radio.” Then, when I was 11, I stole his Too Short “Freaky Tales”
and listened to it in my room with the volume low and the door
closed because I didn’t
want my momma to hear me play it.

That being said for the last few days I have been thinking about
Hip Hop, Black women and “Nappy Headed Ho’s.”

Five days ago Asher Roth Tweeted, while on Rutgers campus, that
he was hanging out with the some “Nappy Headed Ho’s”.
subsequently deleted all the tweets and apologized
for making the comments.

Some of the user’s comments that followed stated that
“he was just
playing”, other people said that they were
going to unfollow him on

I then thought, if Asher Roth’s Black fans stopped following him,
it would be irrelevant, because corporate rap doesn’t need
Black listeners anymore, in the same way the the United
States no longer
needs Detroit.

Hip hop’s unspoken truth is that white teens play a large
role in deciding which music will be signed, promoted
and distributed
by record companies and played on the radio.

In the book Hip Hop Wars, Tricia Rose lays out the
theoretical framework for analyzing the current state
of corporate rap music. She writes,

The trinity of of commercial hip hop a whole: The trinity
of commercial hip hop- the black gangsta, pimp, and ho-has been
promoted and accepted to the point where it now dominates
the genre’s storytelling view.

She goes on to to say that “what gets presented creates audience
desire as much as it reflects it.”

In many ways her book has given me a theoretical framework
to analyze Asher Roth, why rappers need ho’s, and the White
desire for Black death and I will refer to it throughout this essay.

Asher Roth has what may be called the luxury of being a white
rapper. As a white rapper
he isn’t forced to confront the choice of having
to take on the the myth of the “Black Thug, Gangsta and The Pimp

in order to sell records.

Perhaps, it isn’t a luxury, perhaps he is being treated like a
being and the other rappers being treated like or at
least portrayed
as subhuman. Yesterday, I was on Passion
of the Weiss
reading Jonathan Bradley’s analysis of Roth’s
album and he basically concludes that the album fails because Roth
isn’t being true to himself.
Bradley writes,

Roth?s debut isn?t a hip-hop chronicle of the life
and times of a middle class suburban kid. It isn?t
like I was expecting an
Illmatic for the commuter
towns (though wouldn?t such a thing be incredible?)
but given Roth?s insistence that he hasn?t been
feeling a quarter century?s worth of hip-hop made
by black folks from the inner city, I hoped he could
offer a more compelling vision of his lifestyle than
1) Smoking weed; 2) Hitting on girls; and 3) Playing
video games. Because I?ve never noticed hip-hop
lacking for songs about smoking weed and hitting
on girls….

Roth’s, timing, alliteration and flow is different from most cats.
His flow is nice and he is a decent emcee. Would I play it on
a regular basis, no?
I like my story telling a bit
more dense. However, what is relevant is that being White gives
him the option of being
able to rap about girls, weed and college, to
forgo being a
thug, and perhaps most importantly,
to not
be relegated to Hip Hop’s margins because of it.

Talking about the white consumption of Black Death is
downer of sorts but so is 800,000 African Americans in
When a Black male artist decides not to represent the
Gangsta/Thug/Pimp trinity, he risks
committing career
suicide, at the worse, or being severely marginalized at the least.

The Roots, Nas, Common, Kweli, Dead Pres, De La Soul, Doom,
Lupe Fiasco, Wale, Mos Def and Little Brother are relegated to
greater or lesser
extent, to hip hops margins largely because,
by and large, of
White teen male desire for Black death.

Common, The Roots, Dead Prez, Little Brother, and Talib Kweli do
not have platinum albums.

Tribe (Beats Rhymes and Life, Low End Theory and Midnight
Marauders) and De La Soul (Three Feet High and Rising), do.

Nas has five platinum albums (Nastradamus, Illmatic,
Stillmatic, God Son, Streets Disciple) one multiplatinum
album, (It Was Written).

In Byron Hurt’s film, Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Jadakiss
states very plainly (46:10 sec) that after selling 700,000
records “you are only selling records to white kids… the
white kids love the murder.”

Last year, I wrote about my love of Mobb Deep and my
final conclusion was that Mobb Deep fed something
dysfunctional inside of me. Listening to Mobb Deep
reminded me of where I came from, it reminded me that I
that I went to school and escaped
the trenches of the crack epidemic
that had deep East Oakland
on lock.
It is also a reminder of the fact that so many of the people
that I came up with are either dead or in jail.

What exactly is 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, feeding inside
of white
suburban teens? A fear of Black men? A hatred
of Black people? Or is it just entertainment?

Free Speech
Yes, I understand that rappers do tell stories that would
normally be ignored.
However, the Pimp, Gangsta, Ho trinity
has come to be synonymous
with corporate rap and it needs
to be addressed head on. Professor
Rose articulates this
point when she writes,
“Understanding and explaining are
not the same as justifying
and celebrating, and this is a crucial
distinction we must make if we stand
a fighting chance in
this perpetual storm.
She goes on to explain,

“Thug life is a product and given our history of racial
stereotypes young black men are the ideal sales force
for it.
So if we are going to talk about investment and
we have to admit that there is a large
market for these images and attitudes,
a market far
bigger than black people can be held responsible for.”

“Multimillion dollar corporations with near total control
over the
airwaves and playlists which never release
objective and complete
information about callers or
song requests, refuse to openly discuss
how they
determine their playlists or explain the cozy and illegal

relationship between many record companies and radio
uncovered by various investigations over the
years. They want us
to believe that we the listeners
determine what gets played….In
the Early 1990’s
prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996
programmers played popular songs an average
of 40 times
per week, By the end of the decade
that number had jumped to 140
plays per week.

Yes, we live in a country that protects free speech
but, with freedom comes responsibility.

No, rappers do not raise the children, the parents
raise the children, however it is disingenuous for rappers to
claim that they are not role models. They have the cache,
buying power, influence, because they have created a
persona that young people want to look up to. If young people
did not look up to them, they wouldn’t imitated them, buy their
mix tapes, buy the products that they recommend.

Its ironic. Young people have tens of millions of dollars of
advertisement thrown at them, then they are told, “Well
don’t try and be like us, we aren’t role models.”

The marketing industry is a trillion dollar industry because
marketing works.

Thinking about the ways in which rappers influence
young Black people doesn’t let parents off the hook. Professor Rose
articulates both the responsibilities of the parents and artist when
she writes,

Parents alone couldn’t possibly be responsible for all
the social influences and pressures that communities
must weather. Yes, parents must do their best, and they
surely bear primary responsibility for raising
their children. But to assume they have total
responsibility- to deny the impact of larger social forces
that profoundly limit some parents ability, including what
highly marketed celebrities say and do in our celebrity
driven culture- is to deny the powerful communal
responsibility we all have for one another.

Some may argue that to tell rappers to change
their rhymes constitutes censorship, but rappers
are already censored.

When Mos Def said on, The Rape Over, “Tall Israeli’s is running this rap
shit ” the song was removed from the second pressing of the
album. Mos Def rapped,

All white men is runnin this rap shit
Corporate force’s runnin this rap shit
The tall Israeli is runnin this rap shit

We poke out the asses for a chance to cash in

Cocaine, is runnin this rap shit
‘Dro, ‘yac and E-pills is runnin this rap shit

Rose also quotes Lisa Fager Bedaiko from Industry Ears
on the ways in which rappers have been censored. She writes

Freedom of speech has been spun by industry
conglomerates to mean the b-word, the n-word,
ho while censoring and eliminating hip hop music
discusses Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, Jena 6,
the dangers of gun violence and drugs, and songs
that contain “George Bush” and “Free Mumia.” In
2005, MTV and Radio Stations around the country self
regulated themselves to remove the words “white man
“from “All Fall Down.” The lyric demonstrated the far
reach of capitalism by exclaiming: /Drug dealers buy
, crackheads buy crack/ And a white man get
paid off all of that/. When asked why they decided to
dub “white man” from the lyric the response from MTV
“we didn’t want to offend anyone.”

I also remember listening to a Kanye’s “Gold Digger, and noticing
that it was censored, at the end of the verse. On Gold Digger, Kanye raps,

He got that ambition baby look in his eyes
This week he moppin floorz next week it’s the fries
So, stick by his side
I know his dude’s ballin but yea thats nice
And they gone keep callin and tryin
But you stay right girl
But when you get on he leave yo a** for a white girl

Rap doesn’t need to be censored. It already has been.

How Hip Hop Affects How Black/All Men Treat Black Women

I was walking on 125 and Lexington Sunday, the first 90 degree
day of the year. I came out
of the train station, I remarked to myself,
out loud, that it was really hot. A Spanish man who was posted up,
on the train entrance banister looking down on me
“Yeah mommy, its hot, how you doing?”
I said nothing. He then
said. You can’t speak? He became aggravated.
I said nothing.
You smell like fish.
I said nothing. You too good? You smell
like fish.
Louder as I walked away. It was 1:33pm.

I then took out my pad, and decided that I was going to
the time and place of all unwarranted harassing
comments for the next
few blocks.

Next, I had gotten to 125th and 5th. A young Black man,
about 18, was walking behind
me mumbling, “I want to
put my dick in your butt.”
I kid you not. Yes. He said,
“I want to put my dick in your butt.”

Frankly, I thought he was singing a rap song, and kept
to the corner.

He then said it a couple other times, a little louder. There
was no one else around, so he was talking to me. It took
me two seconds to asses the risk, because you never
know if you will be assaulted when you question they
way someone treats you in public. I then turned and said,
“Why would you say
something like that?” His response?

“Because I like you.” And he waived for me to come towards him, then
he paused
and kept walking away. It was then that I knew he was sick.
This happened at 1:44pm.

Many folks would like to believe that the music doesn’t influence
the way Black men interact with us. Can we prove that? Do we
need to prove it in order to accept it as being true?
That being
said, if seeing can Black president can make someone want to be a
person, then doesn’t it extend logically that listening to
Lil Wayne
would make someone want to thug harder?

Then there is the music and how we deny that rappers are talking to
us. Often times, Black women will try and say that the rapper is

not “talking to me” similar to the woman in Beyond Beats and
Rhymes [28:34 sec].
Professor Rose addresses why in rap
songs, the rappers are talking
to all Black women. She writes,

The line between women who “deserves” to be called
these names and those who do not does not exist.
Winding up one side or another of this imaginary
divide is at the discretion of the males and sometimes
the females around you; its not a choice you get to
make. Remember the “classy” women at BET’s Spring
Bling whom J-hood confidently identified as “bitches”?

“This separation of black women into the good ones
(the ones we are not insulting) and the bad ones (the
ones we have the authority to label and insult) is a primary
means by which sexism and other forms of discrimination work.
(Remember “good blacks and bad blacks”? “Good
Immigrants and Bad Immigrants”? Model Minorities
and the problem ones. The idea is to establish negative
group terms for the dominated or discriminated group
an then find the good members, the ones who are
wind up serving as the exceptions. This proves the rule,
thus perpetuating the group discrimination for everyone.”

Rose goes on to make the amazing assertion that rappers need
“ho’s.” This analysis blew my mind and was acutally the passage in
the book the confirmed that I needed to write this essay. She explains,

Rappers are not under assault by black women whose
behavior they do not like. The gangsta rapper image
needs “bitches and ho’s,” and so they continually
invent them. Women so labeled add lots of status and
value to gangsta and pimp images. If you can’t have lots
of women servicing you, then how can you be a real
player, a real pimp? So the process of locating, labeling,
partying with, and then discarding Black women is part of
the performance that enhanced gangsta-and pimp
status and thus their income. If, as Jay-Z raps in “99 problems,”
“I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one,” then why bother
telling us about her inability to give him problems- unless
controlling bitches is part of his power…. If there so good at
identifying women they insist should be called bitches and
hos then it shouldn’t be too hard to stay away from them.
And if they are able and want to stay away from them, then
there is no reason to rap about them constantly.

Think about it this way. What would rap videos look like without
Black women? Then you see my point.

At the end of the day, corporate rap music affects how Black men treat
us, and if it doesn’t hurt, it most certainly doesn’t help.

They Just Some Nappy Headed Ho’s
In March of 2007, I wrote a post titled, “My Duke/Imus Moment“.
The post is about sitting
in an evidence class in law school
when my professor decided to use the Duke rape case as a
teachable moment on the inadmissibility of evidence in
rape cases. I wrote,

One of my colleagues says,

“Well can we offer into evidence the fact
that she dressed like a prostitute [I paraphrase
but this is the gist of his statement”.

There were good hearted chuckles in the class as well as
several female class mates looking around. Like. What? Did
he just say that for real.

Personally. I felt my HEART raise up in my throat and I KNEW
that I had to say something.

I raised my hand. She didn’t call on me and 30 seconds later
the moment passed. She asked, “Did I see a hand raised in
the back?” Did I wanna be the Black girl, talking about the
Black girl topic? NO. But, my hands were sweaty so I said,
“Yes” and proceed to talk. I stated,

“In response to my colleague David’s
[class laughter] regarding the
admissibility of the fact that the dancer
wore “prostitute like” clothing.

David’s response. “Oh I was just kidding.”
I didn’t think to say it, but it was the Imus defense in class.
He said it. He meant it, he would have had some integrity and
stood by his statement.
I responded saying,

I know, however, some things need to
stated explicitly.

One has to be very careful when making a
statement regarding a womans clothing in
relationship to rape, because it can lead to
the very dangerous inference that how a
woman dresses invites her to be raped.

Imus tried to play it off and say, he was just kidding.
My classmate tried to play it off and say he was just kidding.
Asher Roth tried to play off saying on Twitter, saying that he didn’t
mean to offend anyone when he said he was “hanging out
with some nappy headed ho’s.”

They are not kidding. They are serious as two strikes and
possessing five grams of crack.

Corporate rap sanctions the Bitch/Pimp/Ho’ trinity.
The corporations hide behind the rappers, the rappers tell
the fans to “turn off the radio” and yesterday,
a young man on the street told me he wanted to stick
his “dick in my butt.”

No rap music did not invent sexism and if rap music was
eliminated sexism would still exist. However we can no
longer hide behind the “just turn the radio off.”

We are all connected whether we want to admit
it or not. I would imagine that the current state
of the global economy would be a reminder of this.

I close with these words from Tricia Rose,

The people most injured by the fraught, hostile and
destructive state of this conversation are those who most need
a healthy, honest, vibrant (not sterile and repressed)
cultural space: young, poor and working-class African American
Boys and girls, men and women,- the generation that comprises
the future of the black community. They have the biggest
stake in the conversation, and they get the shortest end of
the stick in it.


You like how I snuck in the White consumption of
Black death?

Are Rappers addicted to “Ho’s”?

I got 99 problems but a blog ain’t one?

Bracing myself for the hate mail. Awesome!

*Correction: The post about Asher Roth, on the blog, Passion
of the Weiss, was written by Jonathan Bradley not Jeff Weiss.

Asher Roth x Don Imus x Nappy Headed Ho’s

Apparently, Asher Roth was recently on the Rutgers campus
and tweeted that he was hanging out with some
“Nappy Headed
Hoe’s.” He then tried to clean it up and recant
by saying that “he
was trying to make fun of Don Imus.”
He apologize as well.

Recently my post, “Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig“,
ran on Racialicious. The post is about the fact that Michael
Baisden stated on his radio show that a wife “should just
lay there and take it”, if her husband want’s to have sex
and she doesn’t. One of the commenter’s, “Nina”
who was open, honest and thoughtful in several her comments,
said that she felt that Baisden was being hyperbolic. She writes,

Perhaps because I think of him as being like Chris Rock, someone who exaggerates but often has a bit of wisdom at the core of the shit talking, what I hear is the kind of thing many men say when alone. And there is the risk that he goes to far OR that listeners will take it as gospel and not hear it as hyperbole. I hear it as hyperbole, my brother and friends hear it as hyperbole but that doesnt mean everyone does.

I responded saying,

Let me ask you this, do you think Don Imus was being Hyperbolic when he called the Rutgers women?s team Nappy Headed Ho?s?

If he wasn?t being hyperbolic and was being racist, why should Imus not be tolerated but Baisdens comments are hyperbolic?
Often times, I have found that people hide behind the defense of laughter when in reality it constitutes hate speech.

Can?t sprinkle sugar on shit and call it ice cream.

Having just wrote these comments on Wednesday,
you can imagine my surprise at
seeing Asher Roth say the same thing,
on Twitter, on Thursday.

Why should Asher Roth be singled out when Black men call us
all the time?

I am not saying that Asher should not be criticized for what he has done
but we need to keep it even and acknowledge that many Black rappers
and Black men, and for that matter Black women, refer to Black women,
reflexively, as “hoes.”

Perhaps, the underlying assumption in the Black community
at large is that Black women, belong to Black men, that we do not have to
freedom to do what we wish with our bodies, without being subjected
to public scrutiny within our community.

Shoot, I love The Clipse, and I am excited about their new song
with Kanye and their new CD, but thangs havn’t been the same since their
“Tree Huggin Bitch” skit.

In some ways, I feel that if Black people want White folks to
take racism
seriously then Black folks need to start taking
sexism seriously

The elephant in the room, as far as I am concerned about rap music
is that in the same way that America no longer needs Detroit, rap
no longer needs Black people or Black listeners

Both the White American and global consumption of Black death and materialism
is part and parcel of Hip Hop. It may be hard for us to admit it, but it is
what it is.

In fact, what we have failed to admit publicly is that rap, by and large
is an opportunity to consume Black death, and the Black female body.

In the essay, “Get Rich and Die Trying”, Matthew Birkhold explains
the relationship between Hip Hop, capitalism and the White and
Black consumption of Black death. He writes,

S. Craig Watkins correctly remarks that the extraordinary
success of The Chronic signaled the incorporation of hip
hop into mainstream America. Following in the footsteps of
The Chronic, the years 1993-94 saw the release of debut
records by Nas, the Wu Tang Clan, and the Notorious B.I.G.

All three albums, which all contained descriptive stories
about selling drugs were largely hailed as classics as soon
as they were released and, with the exception of Nas, had
tremendous crossover appeal. However what Watkins does
not point out is that the incorporation of hip hop into mainstream
America was made possible by white consumption of
black men celebrating black on black murder, selling crack,
capitalism, misogyny, homophobia and a rejection of cultural
nationalism. Importantly, during this era, hip hop was not yet
overwhelmingly saturated with drug raps and many rappers
took cultural nationalist positions.

For example, artists such as Brand Nubian, A Tribe called
Quest and De La Soul all released albums that were hailed as
classics during this era. However, these groups did not cause hip hop
to crossover. Because the purchasing power of young whites
created the success of The Chronic and a lack of crossover
success for Brand Nubian, The Chronic was emulated by artists and
labels around the country. As an example, the success of the
Notorious B.I.G and Bad Boy Records is worth examining closer.

Yesterday, @Jarobione further nailed this sentiment when he tweeted that,

jarobione @fwmj lol…. hell no!!!! just making a parallel. Hip-Hop is like a sleazy strip mall with one health food store…lmao

In researching this post, I found an interesting article by Bakari Kitwana
titled, “The Cotton Club:
Black-conscious hip-hop deals with an
overwhelmingly white live audience.” He writes
about Hip Hop’s white audience,

Boots says he first noticed the shift one night in 1995, in
a concert on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Opening for
Coolio, he stepped center stage and grabbed the mic as
usual, but then saw something unusual about the audience:
a standing-room-only sea of
whitness. Some were almost
dressed like farmers, he recalls. Others had their heads
shaved. “Damn, skinheads are out there,” he thought.
“They can’t be here to see us.” But the frantic crowd
began chanting along rhyme for rhyme.

Zion, MC of the independent rap group Zion-I, agrees the
similarities to jazz are striking: “Jazz went white, then
Black, then white again. At this point African Americans
aren’t the ones supporting live jazz [performances]. It’s
the same in many ways with independent hip-hop. I’ve
been to shows where the only Black people in the place
are onstage. It’s kind of surreal.”

“I love Boots Riley’s music, but in general people in the
‘hood are not checking for the Coup,” says Brother Ali,
part owner of the Minneapolis-based hip-hop collective
Rhymesayers Entertainment. “It’s hard enough to get some
of our people to go to a Kweli show. It has a lot to do with the
fact that the emphasis on the culture has been taken
away. It’s just the industry now and it’s sold back to us?it’s
not ours anymore.
It used to be anti-establishment, off the radar, counterculture. People in the streets are now being told
what hip-hop is and what it looks like by TV.”

According to industry insiders and most media outlets, though,
the shifting audience isn’t just a Black consciousness thing?it’s
prevalent in mainstream hip-hop as well.
Whites run hip-hop, they
say, from the business executives at major labels to the suburban
teen consumers. But the often-intoned statistic claiming that 70
cent of American hip-hop sells to white people may cover
up more than it reveals.

No hard demographic study has ever been conducted on
hip-hop’s consumers
. And Nielsen SoundScan, the chief
reference source on music sales, by its own admission does
not break down its over-the-counter totals by race. “Any
conclusions drawn from our data that reference race involve
a great deal of conjecture,” a SoundScan spokesperson insists.

Wendy Day, founder of the Rap Coalition, a hip-hop
artist-advocacy group, says she’s attempted to pair up with
several popular hip-hop magazines on such a study, but none
would commit to help fund it. When she asked an executive at
a major record label, she got an even more interesting
response: “He didn’t see the value in writing that kind of check,”
she says. “Because rap is selling so well, he didn’t see the value
in knowing who his market is. ‘It’s not broken, Wendy,’
he said.
‘We don’t need to fix it.’ ”

This is relevant to me, because when I walk to the streets,
minding my own business, I, along with other Black women
that I observe, are treated, by default, as nappy headed hoe’s
by some Black men.

Some of the interactions are fine, sincere and are warmly
received compliments. Most though, constitute harassment.

We want to walk the street and be. It would make for a more just
sustainable and democratic society if we are able to do so.

With that in mind, last Sunday, I was eating some Mentos, walking
to the train station on 7th avenue to the 2/3 on 42nd street. There
were some young men near the entrance selling candy. They were
wearing skinny jeans, fitted’s, tee shirts and a purple
scarves, you know THE uniform. Here is how the exchange went,

Young man: Ms. do you want some candy? No, no thank you
Young man:Can, I have some of your candy?

I keep walking.

Young Man: “Can I have some of the candy between your legs?”

I stopped at the foot of the steps, raised my hand to God, asked for a
right thought or action
, then proceeded to walk down the steps.

Moments like this serve as a connection between the music and our day to day
lives and I wonder what it will take in order to get others to do the same.

I wrote this listening to 10 Jay Electronica songs on repeat.
I may get hate mail, but you know what. F-ck it.
I write this for the Black Girls & Boys in East Oakland that people
consider disposable.
Tionna Smalls on Mine.


Why are white men held to some higher standard
in terms of calling Black women 50 million hoe’s?

Why is it so hard to admit that hip hop by and large
involves selling the death of Black men and the bodies
of Black women for White, Black and arguably global consumption?

Why is it so much fun saying “You can’t sprinkle sugar on
and call it ice cream?”