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
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
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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