If the lyrics of rap artists are a fair factor to consider in elections, few music company employees seeking public office should ever expect to win. Raw rap lyrics remain shocking to most people over the age of 25, and many voters fall into that category. (I suspect younger voters who grew up with raunchy lyrics are not as bothered and see the crudeness as part of the genre and an attempt at street “cred.” Most teens have rap on their iPods, and are quite accustomed to performers who rhyme trucking with something other than ducking.)
That may be what APS school board candidate Byron Amos discovers the hard way — under the glare of TV cameras.
WSB TV-2 reported that Amos is a VP of UGK Records, which apparently represents rappers with the usual repertoire of obscenity-laced songs. The station found troubling videos by rappers on Amos’ Facebook page.
Then, CBS Atlanta reported on a YouTube video in which Amos extends birthday wishes to a rapper. But prior to the birthday greeting, viewers are treated to some of the rapper’s poetry, including:
“It all started with a Pimp C, b****
So what the f*** is up
Told em somethin good
Ease up my muthaf***** cut
Cause if you don’t really wanna f*** wit a trill n****
From the trill villa wit a steel trigga land of the real killers
Pop Pop muthaf**** there you go
Are people in publishing accountable for every word their publishing house puts out? Is a music company executive responsible for all the songs on the label? We have elected advertising executives whose companies create campaigns to sell cigarettes. Should that be a concern? We have elected lawyers whose firms represent polluters, strip clubs and murderers. Should that matter?
I am not a fan of lyrics that glorify violence and denigrate women, but I also know that rap music is a potent force among all teens, urban, suburban and rural. A friend came back from the Middle East saying how surprised she was to hear teens there listening to American rap artists on their computers.
Channel 2’s Lori Geary showed the videos to Byron Amos, and he told her he wasn’t aware of the videos and called them disturbing. Amos is well known in the Vine City community. He is on his third attempt to become a member of the Atlanta school board. “I did not post these, and I thank you for bringing these to my attention,”
Amos told her he had no idea the videos were posted on his Facebook page. Some of the video and audio were too graphic to publish, but Geary said the N-word was repeated several times along with other vulgar language. The videos also showed scantily clad women and along with what appeared to be drug use.Geary found one video on YouTube that featured Amos prominently while advertising for UGK records
“I know the people in the videos. I did not post them, nor did I ask for them to be removed,” Amos said.
“So, why wouldn’t you have removed these? I mean, there’s your face, your name and yet these videos are all on your Facebook page. Why didn’t you remove them?” Geary asked Amos.
He replied, “Because I didn’t remove them. I would not have wanted to remove them because then it leads to the question of ‘What is he hiding?’ ”Amos told Geary he’s been involved in the music industry for almost 15 years.
He blames some of his current political rivals for making the videos an issue.“Let me apologize to the voters of District 2 because with all of the concerns, all of the problems we have in District 2, some have wanted to make this election about me,” Amos said.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog