Shame, blame is critics' game Crusaders: Another round of protest against gangsta rap is being taken to the doors of record companies.


Declaring "a second phase to our crusade," rap critic C. Delores Tucker announced yesterday that the National Political Caucus of Black Women -- along with its newest allies, the NAACP and the National Baptist Convention -- will be instituting a new, four-point plan to "ban gangsta rap."

Beginning with a planned Dec. 19 demonstration outside the Tower Records outlet in Washington, the groups are calling for a boycott against Tower Records for running "a prime-time commercial promoting the 'Dogg Food' album," she said, referring to the current release by Death Row/Interscope recording artists Tha Dogg Pound.

Tower Records, however, denied that the ad was specifically promoting Tha Dog Pound.

"The ad has a two-second blurb that shows the group, along with a lot of other groups," said Christine Breining, public relations coordinator for Tower Records. "We're not promoting one group above all others."

In addition, the groups plan to draw up a "shame list" of record companies involved in the marketing and manufacture of fTC gangsta rap; is asking the attorney general to use federal law to stop "this obscene, filthy pornography"; and is urging the FCC to "protect children from hearing this on the airwaves."

"We were successful in getting Time Warner to divest its interest in Interscope," Tucker said. "We will not stop until we prevent this music from being sold to our children. God will punish us if we do not protect our children."

"Those who control the gangsta rappers are themselves gangstas," added former Baltimore City councilman Carl Stokes, who attended as an emissary of City Council President Lawrence Bell. Stokes told the group that Baltimore City government is "going against the radio stations in Baltimore City" that play sexually explicit music, and he lauded former 92Q disc jockey Marcel Thompson, who was fired for refusing to play songs that he felt demeaned women.

Despite the urgency with which Tucker and her allies view the fight against gangsta rap, many music industry observers say that gangsta rap is hardly the market-dominating bogeyman its critics depict. Although Tha Dogg Pound album debuted at No. 1 in early November, it has slid steadily down the Billboard albums chart ever since.

"I don't think [gangsta rap is] a growing and thriving genre," said Alan Light, editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine. "It's still a force, but it's a force that was losing momentum prior to these folks pushing it to the front page and giving it back some of the rebelliousness it was starting to lose."

Light also dismissed Tucker's call for FCC intervention as being unnecessary. "The stuff that they're talking about is not on the airwaves," he said. "The FCC has done a fine job of that."

Tucker was not alone in her denunciation of gangsta rap, though. Joining her were the Rev. Maxwell Washington of the Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference, D.C. Sen. Florence Pendelton, Barbara Wyatt of the Parents' Music Resource Center, and the Rev. Morris Sharon, president of the Washington chapter of the NAACP.

Although much was made of the salacious and misogynistic content of gangsta rap recordings by Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, Tupac Shakur and Dove Shack, Tucker and her allies were not just going after the musicians.

"While gangsta rappers must share some of the blame for this music the real culprits are the record companies," said Tucker. "Record company executives try to justify their behavior by saying, 'That is how people live in the ghetto.' I say that black people do not live like animals."

Tucker went on to describe the marketing of gangsta rap as a "genocidal" enterprise, saying it was an effort to "destroy black children." But she added African-Americans were not the only ones whose children were at risk, as gangsta rap records are being sold in 39 countries around the world.

"Gangsta rap is No. 1 in Japan," she declared. According to Billboard, the only American artist in the current Japanese Top 10 is the Carpenters.

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