When #HipHop Meets #MeToo, And Every Rap Personality Is Guilty
Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.
- Rick Ross, from the remix of Rocko’s 2013 single “UOENO”
Film, television, and politics will be deservedly pilloried and demonized in what will now be the never-ending saga surrounding male privilege and sexual violence. However, it’s Def Jam Records co-founder and iconic hip-hop presence Russell Simmons recently being implicated in 1991 rape claims by writer Jenny Lumet — claims that made him subsequently step down as the chief executive of ALL of his business holdings — where things really get frightening regarding our communal human future. There’s a horrifying Venn diagram of not just privilege and gender, but privilege, gender, race, fetishization, and socialized acceptance of sexual violence and sexual impropriety in general in now pop culture guiding hip-hop that settles on a nexus point with terrible future implications. In short, there’s a real case to be made that every rap personality you know and love — at a time where we all know and love rap and hip-hop more than anything else in the world — is as guilty as hell and UOENO it. Contemplating the potential fallout is incredibly important.
In 1991, when Russell Simmons was accused of assaulting Jenny Lumet, he was the head of Def Jam Records, and was at the height of success in his first decade of running the iconic hip-hop label. Via said label, he had evolved the beats and rhymes of Afro-Latino dominated uptown and downtown New York City borough-branded culture into pop culture writ large worldwide.
For as much as this was related to backspins and graffiti, this was also related to an uber-adoration of an era of potentially very socially flawed black and brown men. The progenitors of this culture were indeed individuals who were gifted at crafting ear-worming polyrhythms and unique turns of phrase. But, given when and…