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Rap disrespect of black icons raises concerns

March 2, 2014 • Entertainment, National News


This combination of 1955 and 2013 photos shows Emmett Till in Chicago, about six months before he was killed in Aug. 1955 while visiting relatives Mississippi, and Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. performing in Irvine, Calif. In 2013, Lil Wayne recorded a verse using the name of the civil rights martyr in a sexual metaphor. Till, a black teen, was killed in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. (AP Photo/Family Photo, Invision, Paul A. Hebert)

Malcolm X and rap music have always fit together like a needle in the groove, connected by struggle, strength and defiance. But three recent episodes involving the use or misuse of Malcolm and other black icons have raised the question: Has rap lost touch with black history?

Chart-topping rapstress Nicki Minaj provoked widespread outrage with an Instagram post featuring one of black history’s most poignant images: Malcolm X peering out the window of his home, rifle in hand, trying to defend his wife and children from firebombs while under surveillance by federal agents. Superimposed on the photo: the title of Minaj’s new song, which denigrates certain black men and repeats the N-word 42 times.

That came after Minaj’s mentor Lil Wayne recorded a verse last year using the civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a sexual metaphor, and the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons posted a Harriet Tubman “sex tape” video on his comedy channel.

What is happening to mainstream rap music, which was launched by Simmons and is now ruled by the Login to read more

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