Does APS school board candidate deserve bad rap for what rappers on his record label say?

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.

In its online report, WSB reports:

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

51 comments Add your comment

Baker

September 8th, 2011
11:48 am

I am a young person (28) and know the widespread success of rap music. Despite that widespread success, do we really have to accept it as culturally okay to glorify drug use and degradation of women? I dont think so. And I do think it should be a problem for this guy. He’s an adult, he knows becoming monetarily linked to rap can reap monetary rewards, but to reward him with a seat that is crucial to the education of kids?

Former Stressed Educator

September 8th, 2011
11:53 am

I have three things to say about this:
1. There are positive rappers in the industry and I have used there lyrical poetry to teach students to read and write. It works wonders, but it must be positive.

2. Mr. Amos says he wants to change the culture in APS. I suggest he starts within his own career and change the dynamics of the rap game and THEN seek a seat on the Board. Until then, Mr. Amos you are contributing to the problem. If Mr. Amos wants to know from the viewpoint of a former teacher and administrator how the actions and words of rappers on his label affect students, then I would be glad to meet with him and explain.

3. Your image and what you do speaks volumes about your character.

Shar

September 8th, 2011
12:04 pm

Legal representation for the unsavory and commercial exploitation of the unsavory should not be equated. Our Constitution mandates the former, while the latter permits fortunes for the few and denigration for the many.

Mr. Amos should take responsibility for where his money comes from – negative and destructive exhortations to violence and thievery, aimed at the audience most likely to either be victimized or sucked in. No person whose goal is to support children’s character or academic success would ever, ever be associated – much less make a fortune from – lyrics like the ones above.

Perhaps Mr. Amos should be required to read the lyrics of the raps he promotes aloud, in public, and then explain why their promulgation is in the best interests of the children of Atlanta. He should not be allowed to cringe away with ‘a written statement at a later date.’

Lynn43

September 8th, 2011
12:11 pm

No one who considers “rap-crap” to be music should be allowed to be an administrator or boss over a music or fine arts teacher. A school board member should be above this culture.

Atlanta Resident

September 8th, 2011
12:51 pm

Rather have this guy around than Notorious B.E.V.

Clear speaking adult

September 8th, 2011
12:51 pm

If the leading Republicans did the same with the bills passed in any election or Congressional Hearing we might have a better Society for thes kids to live in….

Amazing

September 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

Former Stressed Educator says it all. You also have to wonder why he was not prepared to deal with this issue. His explanations defy logic.

[...] Partners for Schools, interviewed Amos and the other school board candidates on Wednesday. …Does APS school board candidate deserve rap for what rappers on his record …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 4 news [...]

catlady

September 8th, 2011
1:07 pm

Should a prostitute be elected to the board?

tim

September 8th, 2011
1:19 pm

Amos couldn’t answer basic questions on CBS46. Why would anyone vote for this clown, but it seems like Maureen would.

Former APS Principal

September 8th, 2011
1:29 pm

I will say it again, the MTL and SRT staff came to the schools at night and changed testing information. Many principals were unaware of this but was accused. I saw it with my two eyes. Please why not research this? None of them were ever questioned. A lot of principals were unaware of the cheating because the Executive directors spearheaded it with the help of the SRT staff.

Pluto

September 8th, 2011
1:33 pm

I think my former high school students had it more right than wrong when they informed me of what rap actually stood for; Retards Attempting Poetry. Not much has changed.

Pardon My Blog

September 8th, 2011
1:40 pm

@catlady – Precisely!

Former SRT 3 Maintnance crew

September 8th, 2011
1:41 pm

In fact I will say that all those MTLs were awarded with principalships. SRT three was the best at this and all those MTL’s are now principals. Why not question the maintnance crew we saw what happen. I guess we are not smart enuff to be question and yet we know what and how it happen

Maureen Downey

September 8th, 2011
1:42 pm

@Former, Have you considered sharing your info with Superintendent Davis?
Maureen

Jack

September 8th, 2011
1:51 pm

Bad taste in music or anything else should be considered when voting one into public office. The effort by the candidate to appeal to a small segment of the voting public smells to high heaven. And is particularly offensive because he hopes to profit from the image.

Good Mother

September 8th, 2011
2:19 pm

Of COURSE Amos is responsible for what goes on at his own label. If he is on a board he is responsible for what goes on in the school district.

How can a board member uphold school rules that require students not to swear and denegrate women when he glorifies and profits from it.

Dumb question.

Of course he’s responsible.

and if he says he can’t control what goes on at his own record label he certainly cannot be trusted to control what goes on in a school district.

Principal Skinner

September 8th, 2011
2:21 pm

ATL Resident

“Notorious B.E.V.”

Awesome!

Inman Park Boy

September 8th, 2011
2:21 pm

The only reasonable answer to your question is “yes.” What else could it be?? We are responsible for our acts! Why do we as a country have such a hard time with that simple fact?

carlosgvv

September 8th, 2011
2:37 pm

Some time ago, Don Imus, of Imus in the Morning fame, said some mildly crude things about a ladies college basketball team that was mostly black. The wave of immediate black criticism was intense and unremeting, and Imus was fired. Of course, black’s can say almost anything on these rap songs and black radio stations play them all the time. In other words, the double standard shown by this is so large you could drive a Mack truck thru it. Don’t look for this to change in the foreseeable future.

RJ

September 8th, 2011
2:38 pm

Hopefully this won’t become an attack on all rap music, particularly by those that have limited experience with listening to it. Not all rap music is “crap”, just as not all rock music is golden.

Mr. Amos has to be accountable for the music he promotes. With lyrics like those listed above, he has some explaining to do. These are the very lyrics that we don’t want children being influenced by. If this is how he chooses to make his money, then he is not a suitable candidate for a school board.

@Lynn43, I am a music teacher. While I don’t support negative rap, I am fully aware that all rap is not negative. Additionally, just because I don’t care for a certain genre of music doesn’t make it crap. The textbooks that we use have examples of rap in them. I have used rap as a means to get kids to see the relationship between poetry and rap. They’ve written their own raps and performed them for the class. It’s a positive experience.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

September 8th, 2011
2:41 pm

Former APS Principal,

Please send an e-mail to:

atlanta@ic.fbi.gov,

provide them your name and phone number, pull up a chair and wait for the predictable in-depth criminal investigatory interview.

Some folks still don’t play. The folks at FBI/Atlanta are among them.

Shar

September 8th, 2011
3:13 pm

Brilliant, Atlanta Resident. I just wish it weren’t true.

Truth Be Told

September 8th, 2011
3:17 pm

Our so called qualified APS board members have buried their head for years excepting the praise of a “well run school system.” Despite all the rumblings of cheating over the years, they aided and abetted Hall in covering up what obvious from just a cursory observation. The board offered no signs of fiduciary responsibility, providing Hall with an outlandish salary, bonuses and a bizarre range of fringes**.

The board is still supporting the cover in an attempt to “control damage” by paying her extremely exorbitant criminal defense bills. The board has refused to dismiss other higher ups (e.g. Sharon Pitts..) that had direct links to the cover-up because they are afraid these people know too much and will “bring the house down”

I’m saying all this to say, I don’t think we can do any worse.

** Just one crazy fringe – I just read on Maureen other APS blog today that her chauffer, received over $100,000 annually. How much does a teacher earn…how about a principal?

The Bald Eagle

September 8th, 2011
3:17 pm

He is responsible for the actions of those below him, just as he would be responsible for the performance of schools if he were elected to the board. Although the lyrics should not be taken as his own words or ideas, I absolutely believe they should be considered. This is how he makes his money. It’s fair game. It shouldn’t preclude him from consideration. Other things need to be considered, too. But the public has a right to ask if one who promulgates this type of message is an appropriate board member.

A Proficient APS 12th grader

September 8th, 2011
3:28 pm

But dey sed dat i had a dagree…wut up wit dat..?????

Northside Kid

September 8th, 2011
3:32 pm

@Truth Be Told

I had no idea that Beverly Hall made off with over $580,000 in bonuses, and this was in addition to her salary of $410,000. I now fully understand the motive for covering up over a decade of cheating, lying and stealing

Vince Doodly

September 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

Rap is for ignorant, low talent thugs whose interest is intimidation today. Gimme some old school Run DMC. Now there were some clever rhymes. I can take some Eminem too.

Vince Doodly

September 8th, 2011
3:34 pm

Beverly Hall needs to be in JAIL.

JB

September 8th, 2011
3:45 pm

Give me a break! While I certainly believe in freedom of speech I don’t think a business person whose business glorifies drug-use, violence and especially hyper-sexualization and degradation of women should be in a leadership position for our children. Seriously?!?!

Tech '10

September 8th, 2011
3:50 pm

He is of course responsible. He is paying this guy to produce these lyrics in the hope that people will buy the records. He is directly responsible for them. If he had any objection to them, he could simply not produce the record or get the rapper to change the lyrics to better uphold the values of the label. Chances are the rapper was recruited by the label or even Mr. Amos himself, a mixed tape was probably listened to and approved of. No way should a man that approves this butchering of the english language and the abuse of the word music like this be allowed to hold any position in any school.

Ashley

September 8th, 2011
4:28 pm

If this man is VP of a rap record label….why would he want to be on the board of the APS? The rap lyrics are insulting and degrading. He has a right to run his so-called business anyway he choses, but don’t expect parents who want their children to have more than a fake thug life to vote him onto the board. Urban children shouldn’t have to settle for someone who thinks it alright to butcher the English language along the way promoting violence and the abuse of women. He’s ran twice before and lost, why should this time be any different? I still believe your reputation precedes you. After the cheating scandal…does the APS really need another black-eye?

TaxWatch

September 8th, 2011
4:36 pm

At least the public will be more prone to closely watch the actions of a rapper. We apparently took our eyes off of the current board allowing them to uphold lying, cheating and what has amounted to out right theft by Beverly Hall and top thug administrators.

APS parent

September 8th, 2011
4:53 pm

Our teachers and children need protection from brutes such as Hall and Augustine. We need watchdogs to keep their likes from infiltrating our school district. We don’t need thug management, stealing, cheating and lying. Above all, we must have a wholesome environment for children and teachers.

Thank God for any board member who will stand up and think for themselves!

@Principal Skinner & @ ATL Resident

September 8th, 2011
4:59 pm

Yes: the notorious “Biggie Bev”

You got my vote.

MA

September 8th, 2011
5:46 pm

Rap is Crap!!!!!

Former SPARK parent

September 8th, 2011
6:32 pm

Rap music is a form of self-loathing, in exactly the same way as saggy pants (i.e., “jailing.”) White culture has plenty of its own problems, and we can have that conversation too, but the ghetto black culture is particularly self-immolating.

However, the only hate you usually hear ghetto blacks talking about is the hate they perceive whites feel toward them.

That hate, while real enough, is only a tiny fraction of what blacks estimate it to be, and it’s also a tiny fraction of the hate blacks express towards themselves via rap music and saggy pants and the destruction of perfectly good teeth for gold caps, and the unwillingness to follow behavioral norms willingly embraced by other minority subgroups in this country…such as insisting on good behavior in schools…

For those of you who think we affluent educated whites are not your friends–well, I’m sure a hell of a lot better friend to you than Bev Hall ever was. But I hate your music, and you need to turn you f*&$ing car stereos down. Now.

Thank you AJC

September 8th, 2011
6:51 pm

“Sitting in the polished offices of a lawyer who specializes in corporate criminal defense, Beverly L. Hall looked tired.”

I just got in from work and read the above first sentence in the New York Tmes article and I wanted to throw up:

This must be the criminal defense lawyer that everyone is talking about that is costing the taxpayers $420.00 per billable hour, plus expenses. If Hall had nothing to conceal, one of the school district’s attorneys should be sufficient. After all when the school district hired their current lawyers they were deemed to be the “best and brightest.”

Also the article parroted her usual song and dance routine about how graduation rates (fudged numbers) improved and new building were constructed (that was going to occur anyway). The New York Times reporters aren’t accustomed the slick ways of her always trying to weave “accomplishments” in to buffer a damning story.

Generations of children have been denied appropriate educational learning opportunities over the past 12 years; thousands condemned to a life of missed chances. This centrally orchestrated scheme has resulted in millions of dollars being wasted. Hall and her hoodlum lieutenants are criminals of the lowest variety.

Thank God for the sharp, investigative minds at the AJC! We would still be in la la land without our newspaper’s steadfast pursuit in revealing the most heinous crime in the history of public education. Thank you for standing up against the Chamber of Commerce and other equally powerful forces for the sake of so many innocent children.

Northside parent

Dwanda Farmer - APS District 2 Candidate

September 8th, 2011
7:11 pm

As a candidate I have to say campaigning is the most difficult task I’ve ever set out to do. Three times, I’ve lost in city wide races to Atlanta giants like Ceasar Mitchell and Michael Julian Bond. I ask myself every day Why am I doing this? It’s so hard and people are so incredibly mean. Sometimes I want to quit, but the children are so desperately in need of someone who will stand up for what is right and act in integrity when people are looking and when they are not. That’s who I am. Cheating children out of an education is criminal! Someone should go to jail and the fish always rots at the head. Public education is the greatest American asset we have and it is the most critical tool to raise people out of poverty.

Mr. Amos has every right to engage in any business enterprise of any legal nature that he so chooses to invest his time, talent and resources. My business write grants and provides program development services to non profits. I have experience with a half dozen federal programs down to a detailed level that helps me support my clients from program application, implementation and reporting compliance. I think this experience will be useful operating within the confounds of Federal programs like (Bush) No Child Left Behind and (Obama) Race to the Top. Our focus must be 100% on student learning and real academic achievement.

I am independent (although not wealthy). I won’t be fired if I don’t go along with the get along crowd. I have clients that I have worked with for more than a decade. Even clients I lost because maybe they didn’t like hearing the “truth” have come back because I get results. My character is upstanding and I stand on the right side of truth and justice.

I have served my community as an advocate and activist. Which means I speak up and I act when I see a problem. On November 8, 2011 please Help Our Public Education and elect me to the Atlanta Board of Education.

I will work hard to create a world class vision for our schools where student learning comes first and teachers are supported. I will work to improve academic achievement for APS students and graduate more students college-prepared and work-ready .

Politics as usual is NOT getting the job done!

A Conservative Voice

September 8th, 2011
9:01 pm

Why in the world would any sane person listen to those idiots, anyway?

Kelly

September 8th, 2011
9:44 pm

I am generally not one to post a comment but I am so taken a back aback by other comments. I am not weighing in on if he’s qualified to be on the board BUT if he cares about the community he lives in and its children, its a good thing. Running for elected office is a thankless job and I think its great that he wanted to give back to his community. Most people only hide behind snippy comments on blogs. He is actually trying to get involved in a positive way.

DELTAman

September 8th, 2011
10:21 pm

We need people on the board with “horse sense” (as my grandmother often said). Yes, folks with common sense, not necessarily those with a bunch of degrees, but people who are able to judge character and look out for the welfare of children and the people’s money.

The board members who were present during Hall’s reign of terror need to vacate their seats. The house must be cleansed, starting at the top, if we are to ever restore We have a national disgrace on our hands due to their lack of leadership. Boards are in place to pick up on failed practices and policies. It is evident that they had no effective mechanism for auditing operations or the operational climate.

The board failed in its primary duty of ensuring quality learning opportunities in a wholesome environment.

Inside Scoop

September 9th, 2011
7:21 am

@Kelly – Running for elected office is a thankless job

Not for APS board members. It’s an opportunity to fatten your pockets through steering contracts to for payola and securing jjobs for friends who return the favor in many ways, including sex.

The aforementioned is not an exaggeration, it is factual based on my personal observations.

kay

September 9th, 2011
7:27 am

Tough question for CBS 46: Why do you call it tough questions, when they are the same questions he answered on WSB-TV the day before?

just watching

September 9th, 2011
6:17 pm

Hmmmm….let’s see. It’s pretty simple to set your own FB page security so that no one else can post something to it. If you have political aspirations, then perhaps that would be a good choice, though a little late in this case.

drew (former teacher)

September 12th, 2011
11:48 am

Is he personally accountable for the lyrics produced by his “company”? I’d have to say no. I’d say the accountability is on the voters. Kudos to the press for bringing this to light. Now, hopefully, the voters will respond accordingly. Then again, voters have been known to be dumb as dirt.

Douglas Demetrius Prather

September 12th, 2011
11:50 pm

Thank you tremendously for your perspective as my preference remains, classical, jazz, gospel and negro spirituals however I have a respect and affections for all kinds of musical expression.
I do maintain that art imitates life in all mediums! I think that that the perspective that you have provided is invaluable insight to music and art forms at large!

UGA Student

September 13th, 2011
1:59 am

I’ll tackle this topic two-fold, on Amos, and then I’ll address these ignorant diatribes about rap.

Should Amos be judged/considered responsible for what his label releases?
Of course. UGK, the rap group consisting of Bun B and the late Pimp C, as well as the label, we’re ahead of their time in the music industry, and the UGK brand is one of the strongest in hip-hop today, even with a member of the marquee group resting in peace.

On rap, I without question fall into the desensitized, under-25 category, and would be hard pressed to believe that many of the people that commented on this post aren’t in possession of an AARP card, or nearing that age (read: you are out of touch). Blaming music for ones actions is the ultimate scapegoat/copout excuse of lazy, inept parents in our society today, and has been since Elvis and Ray Charles were deemed devil music. I’d be shocked if it wasn’t happening during the time I raise my kids. I openly admit that I listen to a wide range of subgenres in hip-hop, everything from music that I legitimately feel comfortable playing for my mother in the car (K’Naan, Outkast) to music that might potentially give her a heart attack (Tyler the Creator, Travis Porter). However my parents raised me to realize that music is art/entertainment, and not education. It was almost a necessity while listening to DMX and Eminem in elementary school.

Anyway, the point is I’ve soaked in all of the debauchery that Lil Wayne and Kanye West can throw at me, and I have the HOPE Scholarship at UGA, an internship at the prestigious Georgia Theatre (which I was hand-picked for out of the Music Business program at UGA because of my ear for rap music), and have never smoked a crack pipe or referred to a woman as a ho (unless she’s cheated on her significant other or tried to break up a relationship, and even then, I’m more fond of the term sloot of Blue Mountain State fame).

The music isn’t the issue here.

Ed Johnson

September 13th, 2011
6:12 pm

There are those who would have us believe Hip Hop holds some kind of essentiality, but of course it does not. That’s because Hip Hop is but a composition of invented social behaviors that have given rise to a culture as if that culture were the true and only possible reality for some people. “Keeping it real,” they say. As such, then Hip Hop necessarily limits, and is a drain on, persons who can least afford such constraints especially here in the 21st century.

Hip Hop merely transfers to far too many children of that culture a devolved sense of the children’s powerful imagining and learning competencies. A condemning effect is to keep the children from imaging and learning beyond their culture. A culture that isolates itself ultimately dooms itself, socially, economically, and even literally. The Hip Hop culture, as we have seen, manifests in vicious ways far in excess of virtuous ways; for example, disproportional representation in the criminal justice system.

Hip Hop is much like a Dr. Beverly Hall dynamic, and we now know its vicious ways far exceed its virtuous ways, don’t we? Dr. Hall represents a different context, of course, but hers is a dynamic essentially the same as the Hip Hop dynamic.

Moreover, as with Hip Hop promoters, Atlanta business and civic leaders used to want us to believe Dr. Hall held some kind of essentiality to improving student learning in our so-called “urban” Atlanta public schools.

UGA Student

September 13th, 2011
9:40 pm

Your second paragraph proves my point, Ed:

“Hip Hop merely transfers to far too many children of that culture a devolved sense of the children’s powerful imagining and learning competencies.”

^Why is that? Why didn’t that happen to me? The “culture”, the “music”, whatever you want to blame, is not the issue in this case. Think about the student populations at UGA, GT, and Emory. They aren’t bumping that new classical joint out of their car stereos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miIxNCn-vjY
(Video about rhyme scheme in hip-hop)

This video shows exactly why people continue to listen to hip-hop music. It is a poetic art form, whether your ignorant selves want to believe it or not.

The music obviously isn’t the issue.