Local hip hop station pulls Rick Ross music after lyrics depict rape
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
MUSKEGON — A Michigan radio station has taken a stand against destructive messages being sent through the airwaves. Listeners of Muskegon radio station 103.7 The Beat will no longer hear the music of hip hop artist Rick Ross. The station has pulled his songs from rotation following lyrics in Ross’ recent release describing the rape of a woman.
The Beat gained national attention for their decision to pull Ross’ music, whose songs are played on urban radio stations in every major city in the United States, including Detroit. In the song “U.O.E.N.O.”, the Miami-based rapper describes giving his victim a drug in her drink unknowingly, then committing date rape.
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it,” raps Rick Ross. “I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
Molly is a reference to the drug MDMA, or “ecstasy,” a street drug that gives the user a euphoric feeling and lowers their inhibitions toward sex. In recent months, several top-selling hip hop artists have referenced the drug in their music, making it a dangerous trend for youth who are influenced by high profile rappers, some say.
“We have a responsibility to monitor certain songs that we play and it’s not a censorship,” says Paul Billings, general manager of 103.7 The Beat. “It’s a programming right that we have.”
103.7 The Beat, known by the call letters WUVS-lp, is operated by the West Michigan Community Help Network, a community organization whose board meetings are made open to the public. They also run the Imara Student Mentorship Program for local youth.
“Imara Entertainment deals with kids in the community where we go through life skills, they learn about radio, they learn about production,” say Billings. “After eight weeks of being in that life skill classes, they get unlimited access to our recording studio.”
In addition to pulling Rick Ross’ songs, 103.7 The Beat will no longer air the music of hip hop artist Lil Wayne due to a recent reference he made to the racially charged lynching of Emmitt Till in 1955.
“Effective immediately, Muskegon’s WUVS 103.7 the Beat has pulled all Lil Wayne and Rick Ross music from rotation,” the station announced in its press statement. “We pride ourselves on playing music that is non-degrading and non-violent. While we believe in freedom of speech, creative writing and individualism, we refuse to be part of the problem by spreading messages that could harm or end someone’s life.”
Following the controversy his song has had nationwide, Rick Ross visited the radio station Q93 in New Orleans in an attempt to explain his words describing the violent crime. He only managed to say that he didn’t use the word rape.
“Woman is the most precious gift known to man,” Ross said in the interview. “And there was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term rape was — wasn’t used. I would never use the term rape, you know, in my lyrics.”
The Def Jam Records recording artist is no stranger to controversy, his songs depicting the lavish lifestyle of a drug lord. He has admitted he is just a storyteller and that there is no truth in him being a drug dealer, but his music promotes a drug culture that continues to send young Black men to prison at record rates.
Born William Leonard Roberts II, his use of the name Rick Ross has been challenged by “Freeway” Rick Ross, the former Los Angeles crack kingpin who was released from federal prison in 2009, after serving 20 years for his crimes.
Detroit’s major hip hop and R&B radio stations, WJLB, owned by Clear Channel, and Hot 107.5, owned by Radio One, both have several songs featuring Rick Ross in their rotation. These stations do not have local control of their playlists to pull certain artists, unlike Muskegon’s 103.7 The Beat.
The national hip hop community has begun to speak out against the rape lyric of Rick Ross, including Jasiri X and Paradise Gray of Pittsburgh’s 1Hood Media Academy.
Gray is best known as Paradise the Architect of the legendary New York City hip hop group X-Clan.
“I believe in freedom of speech, but where I come from you can say what you want, but you might get checked,” he told the Michigan Citizen.
An online petition at the Web site Change.org has also been started, directed at various music industry executives from corporations such as Universal Music, BET, Clear Channel and Radio One. The petition demands music industry CEOs protect listeners from messages that promote violence, drug-use and rape and that they begin a media literacy outreach program to help fans of the music discuss the community effects of the destructive messages in these songs.