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Rick Ross May Not Even Know It, But AZ Hip-Hop Isn't Down with Date Rape

Rick Ross May Not Even Know It, But AZ Hip-Hop Isn't Down with Date Rape

When rapper Rick Ross proudly proclaimed to having the detestable ability of slipping psychedelic stimulants into the drinks of unsuspecting ladies, he did more than upset a few women activists and anti-sexism organizations.

Shoe giant Reebok dropped Ross as a spokesperson in April, and local grassroots movement Artistic Reason AZ saw an opportunity to make a statement against mainstream hip-hop and its penchant for lyrical content that glorifies violence against women.

Ross infamously rapped, "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," as a guest spot on Rocko's track, "U.O.E.N.O."

ARAZ joined forces with local emcees Vprolific and MysticBlu to pen a response track.

Up on the Sun: How did the idea to come up with a response song come about?

Danielle Nieto: Artistic Reason AZ is a grassroots artist collective that advocates for social justice through the arts. Seeing as how misogyny and violence against women is a consistent theme in the rap industrial complex or what people like to unfortunately refer to as today's "hip-hop" it was important to us at ARAZ that we formulated a response. Glorifying the drugging and raping of women isn't something we take lightly.

The idea for the response track was born out of Vprolific and I discussing the lyrics and the controversy. Both of us were disgusted that this had even taken place but not surprised. Unfortunately misogyny and violence against women in rap lyrics is now common place. What made this stand out however, was the fact that it is a mainstream rap artist therefore reaching the masses with this message. It also stemmed from the fact that we both know survivors of date rape and really felt the call to stand up against rape. Considering Vprolific is a hip-hop artist and I'm a hip-hop activist we chose to use hip-hop music as a tool to respond.

The same beat was used and I asked the artists to keep the same flow as the original artists in "U.O.E.N.O." We just didn't want to respond in a heated way, however. We also wanted to educate people on the realities of rape and rap culture. That is why MysticBlu used facts on rape in the hook and her delivery. It is why Vprolific said, "Could be your Momma they talkin' about, you don't even know it". That is the reality. Survivors are our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and girlfriends. While, men are survivors of rape as well, we chose to focus on women since that is what was reflected by Ross in his lyrics.

What were your roles in the creation of this track?

Vprolific: My role as an emcee was to represent the voice of fathers, sons and brothers in my community and respond in this track as if Fake Rick Ross was directly attempting to hurt or rape our daughters, mothers and sisters. I added a fake in front of this artist name since he is not the real Rick Ross. As the Co-founder of ARAZ and a family member of the hip-hop culture my role for the "U.O.E.N.O. Remix Response" was to educate the masses on the seriousness of rape. As well as translate the response of real men and women who won't stand for such ignorance and hate.

MysticBlu: When I first heard this track I was highly upset. I felt disrespected and disappointed that Rick Ross would be willing to say lyrics like that. I was asked to be apart of this project. I did not come up with the idea, however I am grateful that I could be a part of this.

Rick Ross May Not Even Know It, But AZ Hip-Hop Isn't Down with Date Rape

What was your first reaction when you heard Rick Ross's verse on "U.O.E.N.O.?"

Danielle Nieto: My first reaction was complete disgust. How could this be injected on the airwaves, the same airwaves that my own child sometimes listens to. I didn't get the memo that rapping about drugging and raping women was acceptable.

 

I first heard about the verse in a YouTube video call to action by Rosa Clemente, a hip-hop activist and also the Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate in 2008. This was the catalyst into the backlash. She called upon male hip-hop artists and the hip-hop community to stand up against this, so we did.

Vprolific: I was disgusted and angry by Ross's rhyme but definitely not surprised that he would say such a thing. The Rap Industrial Complex he works for feeds him by playing that destructive role that he portrays to the world. This may have been the first time that the fake Rick Ross rhymed about raping women; but it's definitely not his first time disrespecting women.

What was your reaction to Rapper Rocko removing the offensive lyrics from the track, and Ross losing his Reebok endorsement?

MysticBlu: I said to myself, Good, and smiled. I also said it shouldn't of been released in the first place. I also feel that someone else should have spoken to them about the seriousness of what they did. I'm not sure if taking an endorsement away really changed their mindset about things and that is what's important.

Vprolific: I'm glad Rocko finally came to his senses and realized what Ross stated wasn't acceptable. Although if it were me I'd check my homie if ever he tried to say some ignorant ish like that on my track. Then again that's me as a real man and emcee speaking and living hip-hop.

As far as Reebok is concerned, like I say in the "U.O.E.N.O Remix Response;" "Props to Reebok for dropping Ross but why Reebok even sponsor Ross." Reebok had no other choice but to drop him. Reebok is a business and their bottom line is to make money. Same reason why they sponsored him in the first place is the same reason why they dropped him. Then again the people are really the ones that dropped Ross. We must remember that as people we will always be stronger than any cooperation or government as long as we unite.

Danielle Nieto: I personally thought it was a good move by Rocko. I did question his motives however. Was it because he was afraid he would start losing money, or was it because he himself was taking a stand against rape lyricism and violence against women? I am going to wait and see what he allows in his next albums before I am convinced. As far as Reebok, again a wise move. I felt it was a victory for the movement against Ross and his rape lyrics. Yet just like with Rocko, I have reservations on their motivations. Money talks, and in this instance it was also walking out the door.

What kind of response have you received from the community to your track?

Vprolific: I received quality responses from the U.O.E.N.O remix but not the quantity response I thought was coming. I believe this occurred because this is a touchy subject people may agree with what we did but may be intimidated to speak up. I'm okay with that though. As emcees and artist we are the voice of the voiceless and have a responsibility to hold other emcees and artist accountable for foolishness.

MysticBlu: Its been a positive response from those who can relate to the issue. Healing is taking place which is a beautiful thing.

Danielle Nieto: We received a positive response from the local hip-hop community. We also had the support of Rosa Clemente, Paradise Gray of the XClan, and other conscious hip-hop artists and activists who were advocates against Ross and his lyrics.

While we have had great media response both locally and nationally the greatest response has been from survivors of rape. During the first week of our release my inbox on Facebook was flooded with stories of survival; of women and men being drugged and raped. Some resulting in pregnancy, others resulting in severe trauma, drug abuse and failed suicide attempts. There were people from all over the country messaging me, people I had never met before and never will. Many gave thanks, many reached out for support and resources for the first time.

This is the impact that is the most profound for me. That finally, for some survivors, they are on their journey to healing.


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