Oprah Winfrey has come under attack from some members of the hip-hop community for not supporting hip-hop in favor of her majority white, older female audience. Ludacris believed that when he was on Oprah as a cast member for the Oscar-winning film Crash, Oprah should have dealt with him as the actor and not the rapper. He also asserted that the show was edited to remove some of his comments in response to Oprah and Sandra Bullock's comments concerning pejorative misogynistic lyrics in hip-hop. 50 Cent stated that Oprah pretty much caters to older white women and so it is actually in his best interest to be at odds with Oprah.
The only issue that was more annoying to me than the comments of these two rappers was the response from Oprah Winfrey. More or less, Oprah stated that she listens to Jay-Z, 50, Kanye West and others and that she loves hip-hop. That would have been fine. But she went the extra mile to state that she has 50 Cent's In Da Club playing on her I-pod. This was entirely necessary.
As far as I see it, Oprah owes no explanation to the hip-hop community. She should not have gone out of her way to state that she actually listens to rappers with misogynistic lyrics. She would not have had artists like Kanye, Luda, and Jay-Z on her show if she did not support hip-hop in some way, shape, or form. How many heavy metal acts do you see on her show?
Rather, Oprah should have used this opportunity to give praise to rappers who do represent positivity. Why not use the platform she has constructed to express support for artists in hip-hop who are not misogynistic or vile with their lyrics? Even one of her favorite artists, Kanye West stated in his lyrics: If I can go through all of this and still be breathin'/bitch bend over I'm here for a reason. Oprah, who just had her magnificent Legend's Ball honoring black women, does not have to express her support solely for hip-hop artists who put this type of work out.
Given that hip-hop is primarily purchased by the sons and daughters of Oprah's audience, Oprah could single-handedly change the direction of hip-hop if she said for example, I'm also a fan of Will Smith, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Omékongo. Forgive me for the selfish plug, but honestly, I am one of thousands of MCs and poets who are intentionally choosing not to spew lyrics that condemn our women, and celebrate drugs and violence. A move like this could have the same effect on music that Oprah has had on literature. Instead of telling Luda that he is smart enough not use foul language in his work, why not support the artists who are smart enough to not degrade their people and actually do not degrade their people. How hard would that be?
At the end of the day, I will obviously stand with Oprah. No single person alive has worked harder to show images of positive black people. She is a woman of action. No one could have put together the Legend's Ball quite like she did. I look forward to see who will organize something similar for black male icons. Her humanitarian heart pumps life into communities globally and locally. I really cannot imagine a world without Oprah. In all reality, the hip-hop community needs to do more to honor her and not vise versa.