Project 21 New Visions

 

A Low-Down, Dirty Shame


by Kimberley Jane Wilson

R&B star Usher (no full name for Usher Raymond IV, please, he's a celebrity) used to be a really cute kid. He danced a little, acted a little and projected an overall charming persona. His songs were inoffensive. Most of his music was a hip-hop version of bubblegum pop.

Usher's all grown up now, and it's not pretty.

His new album, "Confessions," is a commercial success and has received praise from fans and critics alike.

The concept is quite simple. It's a sometimes-torrid look into a young man's personal life. It offers moody slow songs and shake-what-you-have-in-the-club songs. It seems to be an autobiographical chronicle of Usher's own messed-up relationships and infidelities, but this is something he denies.

In short, Usher's album is typical of today's R&B scene - except for one terribly disturbing thing: the remix of Usher's single "Confessions, Part II" advocates violence against pregnant women. The song concerns a cast-off lover who is three months pregnant and plans to keep her baby.

In the remix, rapper Joe Budden adds these words:

Pray that she abort that
If she's talkin' 'bout keepin' it
One hit to the stomach
She's leakin' it"

In other words, the answer to your mistress/sort-of girlfriend/one night stand's pregnancy seems to be to beat her into a miscarriage.

Some may feel compelled to jump to Usher and Budden's defense by saying the duo are just "keeping it real." Has no one noticed that no celebrity ever seems to keep it real by doing or saying something positive? Why is it that being "real" in the hip-hop and R&B world always seems to involve being mean and ugly? Beating a woman so she'll lose her child is about as vicious as you can get.

Other people may read this and caution, "relax, it's just a song." True, but it's a song that advocates violence towards women and unborn children. Day Gardner, director of the pro-life group Black Americans for Life, justifiably calls this remixed song "demeaning" and "appalling." She is asking radio stations not to add it to their playlists. So far, however, a number of stations have. Depending on where you live, your sons and daughters may have already heard it.

This incident surely won't harm Usher's career or his current album sales. The young man has struck musical gold and set a record for spending more consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard pop charts than anyone since 1940. He's sold more than four million copies of the album in only 11 weeks of release.

Clearly, the music-buying public - and it's not just teenage girls with too much money - is devouring what Usher's cooking up. It says something significant about us that there have been no noisy protests, no comment in the major media and not even a whiff of disapproval from black-owned or operated media outlets.

Usher is laughing and dancing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, black women are once again been sung about in a degrading manner and nobody seems to care. It's a low-down, dirty shame.

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Kimberley Jane Wilson is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and a freelance writer in Northern Virginia. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.


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