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Talk Back: Rick Ross & Universal Music Group Promote Rape Culture

“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.”
– Rick Ross of Def Jam Records, Universal Music Group


Rick Ross, @rickyrozay

As the Steubenville case has recently reminded us, THIS is rape.

And it is in a rape culture where a top selling artist like Rick Ross, can glorify sexual violence and grace the covers of Rolling Stone Magazine at the same time.

Why do gatekeepers at UMG and Def Jam Records give these sexually violent messages a platform? Who else is responsible?  When will this stop?

Universal Music Group was silent when we called out their CEO Lucien Grainge for promoting music that routinely degrades women of color.

Universal Music Group was silent when Lil Wayne’s sexually violent lyric about Emmett  Till was released on the internet.


Lucien Grainge, @UMG

Will UMG stay silent now, as their artist Rick Ross promotes rape? Will Def Jam simply apologize and allow another artist to glorify rape three months from now? Will Rolling Stone Magazine continue to refer to Rick Ross as “hip hop’s most lovable don?”

Join us to demand that Def Jam and Universal Music Group publicly denounce sexual violence and make a commitment to ending the promotion of sexual violence in their music. Enough is enough. It is time to hold these labels, corporations and their artists — accountable.

And for the advertisers and media outlets, from print and digital to television and radio, that give a platform to artists who promote sexual violence, know that you are part of this problem.

Let hip hop activist Rosa Clemente’s response below inspire you as she calls on men to join us and speak out against rape culture.

Join us and tweet @DefJamRecords and @UMG that you are #NotBuyingIt until they stop promoting rape culture.


We support the following petitions/efforts:


Talk Back: K’NAAN & Self Censorship

Illustration by Jimmy Turrell, from a photograph by Steve C. Mitchell/European Pressphoto Agency

Illustration by Jimmy Turrell, from a photograph by Steve C. Mitchell/European Pressphoto Agency

“I now suspect that packaging me as an idolized star to the pop market in America cannot work; while one can dumb down his lyrics, what one cannot do without being found out is hide his historical baggage.” – K’NAAN

On December 8, 2012, Somali born Canadian hip hop artist K’naan wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times about how his record label (A&M/Octone Records) has pressured him to censor his message. In his powerful and honest essay, K’Naan questions the meaning of success. FAAN Mail responds to his words in this talk back.

Music credit: “People Like Me” by K’Naan. 2010 A&M/Octone.
Check out K’Naan here.

Talk Back: “Birthday Song”

These videos are a response to “Birthday Song” and all other “hits” that dehumanize our people. We advocate for collective responsibility and urge one another to speak up, to talk back to powerful media corporations and to support media that values our humanity and diversity. Join the movement. #TALKBACK.

All I want for my Birthday:

Most of all, WE want a meeting with Lucien Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, to discuss these concerns and others raised in our Open Letter.

all i want


It’s Time for Women of Color to Talk Back via Huffington Post

Media Literacy Group Fights Back Against Negative Images of Women of Color via Clutch Magazine

Women Of Color Tell 2 Chainz What They Want For Their Birthday via Jasiri X at The Black Youth Project

Women of Color Activists Take On 2 Chainz’s ‘Birthday Song’ via Colorlines

(VIDEO) Women Of Color Talk Back via Huffington Post LIVE 

FAAN Mail is Talking Back: No “Big Booty Hoes” for 2 Chainz’ Birthday this Year via BUST Magazine

Hip Hop Feminism and FAAN Mail via the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South at Tulane Univ.

FAAN Mail Interview with Occupy The Hood Radio via Progressive Radio Network

Media outlets, community groups, academic institutions, educators & allies help us by sharing/writing about our TALK BACKS and provoking dialogue. They are an important piece of this movement.


respect my humanity

5 Ways you can help:

1. Share the talk back videos, memes or Open Letter on your blog, tumblr, Facebook or online magazine!

2. Tweet this:  Women of color demand accountability from @UMG & @clearchannel, media corporations:  via @faanmail

3. Create your own Talk Back (via video, meme, etc.) and send it to us!

4. Share and discuss this talk back with your college and high school students.

5. Email faanmail(at) or tweet us at @faanmail to get involved and stay in the loop.

Why Do Record Labels

Talk Back: On Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad”

Lupe’s latest video is causing a stir and lots of people are “talking back!” Check it out:

Media Literacy Questions for Bitch Bad:

What is the message of this song?
What values & points of views are represented?
Who is the target audience?
How may different audiences interpret the message differently?
What is omitted (left out) from this message?
In what context was this song created?
What messages do we hear about race and gender?

FAAN co-founder Nuala Cabral compiled a range of twitter reactions to the song/video in this storify. And then there are a series of pieces analyzing “Bitch Bad.” Here are some we recommend:

Blogger daintyblackpegasus wrote a sharp gender critique of the song on Tumblr:

Overall, the issue becomes one of reinforcing patriarchy by making it a man’s place to “protect” a woman by defining her. The surface message is that Lupe is trying to elevate his Black sisters by teaching them to be beyond reproach and more than a regurgitation of what they’ve seen. However, what it really does is place significant blame on women for ever internalizing these images while ignoring patriarchal issues like the men who support the internalization of being hypersexual by women while simultaneously shaming it.  (More here)

Ebony’s Jamiliah Lemieux’s had this to say to music critics who dismissed the song as “half-baked conscious hip hop”:


Ádìsá Ájámú  offered his concerns about men instructing women on their empowerment:

“I love the message in “Bitch Bad” more than the song. And I applaud any brother … But here’s my discomfort: With so much work for brothers to do on themselves within this patriarchal order I am still a bit uncomfortable with men instructing sisters on the finer points of womanhood, no matter how well intended.” (Read more.)

See Lupe discuss his intentions for “Bitch Bad” here:

What do you think? Weigh in. Talk Back. Comment here or go to twitter and tell @LupeFiasco what you think using the hashtag #BitchBad.

TALK BACK: Jay Z Regrets Past Misognistic Lyrics

So several of us from the FAAN Mail Project want to start filming our informal conversations about pop-culture, media, intersections of race/class/gender/sexuality–and put them online.  Through these dialogues, we are modeling media literacy and making feminist discourse accessible to a wider audience. We are talking back.

So… here’s our first talk back. It happened after coming across a blog post about a recent Jay Z interview about his new book “Decoded” where he admits that he regrets his lyrics that disrespect women.

Now, goofiness aside, some interesting questions are raised.

We wondered… is this sincere or is this about publicity for his new book? does his regret matter? what does his growth mean for hip hop?

Click here to visit our FAAN Facebook Page.

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