Urban Radio, Y’all Got to Do Better

FYI, when I was in college, I used to be an on-air personality at the campus radio station.

Show: The “RedIce Show”
Hosts: Simply Red and yours truly, I’ceBerg

Reason #1, why I loved working in radio, because I was in the middle of nowhere and had access to endless amounts of music. Reason #2, why I loved working in radio, because I could play whatever the hell I wanted. Our show format, play what’s hot + what’s hot that the people haven’t heard. Now our station eventually moved into the rotation style of format that most major stations exist in today. However for the most part it still was, do what you do for your time slot.

With all that said, I love music. And can rock to just about every genre: from alternative to hip-hop, rock to classical, and all types in-between save for country. But hip-hop and r&b will always be my first loves.  My number one gripe with mainstream radio as it stands today is with hip-hop. I often times find myself apologizing for and taking up for the genre in its current state. Mainly because I’m a hardcore hip-hop head that grew up during its golden age…yet unlike alot of others, my ear has transitioned and found the flexibility to adapt to today’s sound– appreciating it for what it is and has become. Now, 90% of hip-hop played on mainstream radio is watered down and not a good representation of the genre’s past or its present. It’s more a snapshot of what is bad. The $$$ – effected infected portion.

If everything doesn’t sound the same production wise, then the same artist is featured on every other song. So in actuality its the same sound. Because of the rampant bootlegging of music today, record labels are less likely to take chances on something different and refreshing. And instead prefer to pony up to something that is a cookie-cutter copy of what’s deemed hot by the “masses.” Okay, you will have to forgive me. Because I’m watching my intended purpose of this blog post get away from me, so there will be a violent lane switch in 3-2-1…

Lil’Wayne. Can someone tell me when and where it became okay for the censorship of misogynistic and overly violent lyrics, but the BLATANT representation/spotlighting/praising of gang culture became okay? Don’t worry I’ll wait. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months now and it baffles me to no end everytime I hear it. Nevermind the fact, that Wayne’s gang ties seemed to have come out of no where about 3 or so albums ago [insert obscene str8face]… but how is it that he is allowed to release singles where he uses strings of slang attributable to his gang affiliation, and that sh!t is okay? It’s never bleeped out or scratched over or thru by the dj’s, nothing. How is this okay. I mean hip-hop in its essence is music of the street. Got that and it always has been. As it grew and matured, it began to align itself with the streets even more, got that, cool. But back in the day, most songs that are basically classified as street singles were made for that. They were mixtape records, hard B-sides, not mainstream singles. Even hip-hop’s most famous former banger Snoop, gives you a line occasionally on a radio single. But that doesn’t compare to “greatest rapper alive.”

Damn near any and every single Wayne puts out or is featured on, unless its a female artist, has some mention of his red flag hanging affiliation in it. Music in today’s society has an even more negative effect, than the one hip-hop’s harshest critics placed on the culture in the late 80s and 90s. Mainly because society as a whole has deteriorated, especially in the African-American community. So because of this, Imma need the program directors to be that much more responsible for the bs they are airing. The same can be said for 75% of the R&B being played, being overly sexual. Man listen, I like all kinds of hip-hop, from the lyrical to the hardcore, ultra street violent type. The same for R&B, if its one thing I love, it’s a slow jam, something you can get it in to, okay. But we need to be alot more selective of what we feed the masses.

The easy arguement is, “we play what’s hot, so if that’s what’s hot then it gets aired. It’s all about the ratings.” That’s a piss poor excuse, because outside of the 15-20% of dudes that live online, who get access (legal or not) to everything that drops… people don’t know what the hell is hot. They know what they hear in the club and on the radio. So while those of you that are screaming Jay-Z, Kanye and others are Illuminati, you might want to turn your attention to the powers that be, that are running radio. Because there has to be a reason behind the fact that a bamma like Gucci Mane gets so much play on urban radio. Really? You trying to tell me no other hip-hop artist is putting out singles with more/less lyrical content, with a catchier hook or more meaningful (but not preachy) message. Come on man, really?

[cue Laurence Fishburne as “Dap” in School Daze]


I’m sure there are some that will say, well if you’re looking for radio to clean up what they air, then they have to clean up everything. And that may be a good point. But nothing at all happens over night save for a station takeover due to new ownership. So let’s start small. Let’s pull up on the spotlight on the ultra-negative and at least act like we want to be responsible. I mean, we have to save some flaws for the “we’re better than you crowd” to talk about, right? I’m only asking for a teeny-tiny make-up job.

Let me know… am I tripping?

2 thoughts on “Urban Radio, Y’all Got to Do Better

  1. ok, I’m so happy that you discussed this topic…and I’m hoping that the majority of your audience are 70’s and 80’s babies because they will truly appreciate what you had to say….

    I recently saw an interview being done with Lil’ Mama…and they broke her down good…but she had ONE thing that came out her mouth that was TRUE….she stated that the radio has to take partial blame for kids wanting to be thugs and hoes…

    I agree with her 10000000000%…that is ALL you hear on the radio…violence and sex…and speaking of sex…can someone please go chop off Trey Songs’ dick off so she can stop singing about sex….I mean..REALLY dude…we all know you love sex, but EVERY DAMN SONG is just OD’in…not to mention you are a watered down R. Kelly….sheeeeeesh…..

    as for Wayne…I’m not sure when he decided to promote his colors, but its so sad that the urban radio stations are promoting this crap…they’ll play a wayne track…then have commercials about saving our youth… *str8 face* ….fuuuccccccccccccckkkk….excuse my language….but like you, I too am a great supporter of GREAT music….this shit out now…smh…ok…I cant continue….

    1. I AGREE with everything you said. I mean everything. And I’m not even speaking as someone who was spoiled by an era of better music overall. But moreso, just as someone who listens to what I’m hearing. And am actually surprised that I have not heard this same case I’m making, more. Hell gangsta rap was birthed when I was a kid. Not this studio made up sh!t, but the real. It just didn’t make radio. Hey I like me some sex… lol. But got damn 90% of the R&B played on the radio (non-oldies/non-adult contemporary stations), is about sex. Like for real. Overkill like sh!t. And the sad part is, I know other R&B exists, good sh!t too. It’s just not pushed at all.

      But to be honest, I’ll take oversexed R&B over songs on mainstream radio, that BLATANTLY describe or s/o gang affiliation, colors, calls, etc. I mean if you want to even barely appease me. Can you give me some lyrics that are so clever, where I wouldn’t know exactly what you are talking about. Can we hide it from the dumbasses that listen to music and take everything verbatim. Then go out and repeat it while yelling at the top of their lungs. I mean come on man. Clearly the artist can’t/won’t and hey, that’s fine. So that’s the onus squarely back on the stations themselves.

      ‘Preciate the reply.

Leave a Reply