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Dr. Boyce: Clear Channel Should be Confronted for Promotion of Toxic Music in Black Communities

posdopsopweby Dr. Boyce Watkins

This week, I spoke at a conference hosted by the Center for Church and Prisons in Boston, Massachusetts.  Rev. George Walters- Sleyon brought together a group of people to discuss the prison problem in America, including Dicκ Gregory, Dr. Umar Johnson, the rapper Jasiri X and others who are on the forefront of the mass incarceration epidemic in America.

During my speech, I spoke about how hip-hop music, at least what we hear on the radio, has become the gospel of self-destruction.  There is almost nothing about the lifestyle being promoted on most urban radio stations that leads to prosperous or healthy outcomes.  Instead, from the time they are young, black males are fed consistent messages that tell them to stay high, drunk, ignorant, viοlent, broke and incredibly unproductive.  Listen to most songs on the urban station in your city (which is just like the one in the next city over) and within 60 seconds, you will hear some message reminding black men of how to destroy their lives.

It’s not until years later that a brother is in a prison cell or on his deαth bed that he may begin to question whether or not he’s been duped into believing that his life was meant to be nothing more than one thugged out calamity after another.  Every time a black man is convinced that he is a loser, our community loses another man who could have been an adequate husband and father.  When black men are k*lling one another, turning into alcoholics or drug addicts, dying from HIV, going bankrupt or never learning how to read, there is some child, somewhere, who has lost the chance to have a good role model in his life.  Racism already marginalizes us enough; we must not be convinced to marginalize ourselves.

Quite frankly, this angers me to no end.  It’s one thing when we confront systematic obstacles that lead to failing schools, mass incarceration and few economic opportunities.  But we must also realize that one of those oppressive systems consists of corporations like Clear Channel, which stack their profits by feeding black men a brain-eating disease called “IWannabeaStraightNigger-itis.”

Right after my reference to hip-hop and it’s problematic turn for the worse, I was accurately critiqued by the rapper Jasiri X, who interpreted my comments about hip-hop to mean that I was referring to all of the music in the genre.  He reminded me that there are conscious artists like himself, Immortal Technique, Deαd Prez and others who are not interested in using their skills as a tool for black male self-destruction.

I was disappointed that Jasiri thought that I was lumping him together with artists like Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, for I clearly was not.  But I was glad he asked his question, since it gave me a chance to clarify.  I immediately responded to his comment by saying, “No brother, I was referring to that bullsh*t on the radio.”

I then mentioned that those who defend the ignorant artists in mainstream hip-hop often use freedom of speech as their defense of indefensible messages.  But I explained that “if a corporation tells you to talk about b*tches, hoes and selling drugs in order to sell more records, that’s not free speech.  That’s controlled, corporate speech designed to make a profit.  You’re not a legitimate artist; you’re a rich man’s negro puppet.”

So, after the event, I asked Jasiri, “Why don’t I get to hear you on the radio as much as I hear Lil Wayne?”  Wayne came to mind since we crossed paths a few months ago and were able to κill his endorsement deal with Pepsico (I don’t regret a thing).  Personally, I consider anyone being used as a tool to spread toxic and destructive messages to young black males to be an enemy of the black community.  I could care less if you’re black or if you’re “making dat paper”:  The fact is that if you’re destroying my kids, then I have an obligation to confront you.  My first goal is to educate the artist, but if the artist refuses to be educated, then we have no choice but to stop his message from contaminating the minds of our children.  Anything short of that would mean that I love my children less than I love having a rapper’s friendship and approval, which is never going to be the case.  Black men must protect our loved ones.

Jasiri explained that companies like Clear Channel maintain strong (and possibly illegal) monopolies on radio markets around the country, where the same music is being played over and over again.  The music is not vetted to determine how unhealthy, viοlent or destructive the message is, so if a rapper talks about r@ping women, mμrdering black men, or getting high on drugs, it’s considered ripe for consumption by impressionable young black men.  We see manifestations of these messages all throughout our communities, since marketing works, whether you’re selling fashion or a lifestyle.

It’d be nice if young black men were able to choose role models outside of sports and entertainment, but that’s naïve.  The advent of the prison industrial complex has decimated African American families to the point that the majority of these young men don’t have a Dr. Huxtable at home every day to give them guidance.

But what that young black male does receive is a steady, daily, highly consistent dose of Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and 2Chainz on his way to school.  Those messages are then reinforced when he gets to school and sees his peers imitating the behavior and ideologies being shared through music.  While we might want to believe that music doesn’t have an influence, any good marketing professor will tell you that you’re out of your d*mn mind.  The reason that Reebok offered Rick Ross millions of dollars to wear their shoes is because they know that if he wears them, urban kids are going to wear them too…..the point is that they imitate his behavior, even if they don’t know they’re doing it.

With that being said, Clear Channel must be confronted.   They must be confronted in court, to determine whether or not they are violating laws by not playing more localized content.  They must be confronted with various forms of protest in cities that have major urban radio channels.  There must also be a conscious effort by all of us to turn urban radio off in our cars and replace it with something more suitable, like Pandora or other music from our cell phones.

The same way an occupied nation will have leaflets with propaganda dropped from airplanes, black people are having racist and harmful imagery and messages delivered to us through the radio.  When standing up for those you love, you have to commit yourself to being rude, determined and relentless in order to achieve your goals.  So, I don’t know exactly how we can get Clear Channel to stop poisoning our children, but we owe it to our kids to try.  This revolution will not be televised, but it must happen nonetheless.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.”  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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  58. Greg Peniston Reply

    October 8, 2013 at 12:58 am

    yes there is sameness in playlists, white corporate types have great influence on what we see & hear, etc. BUT we can never really move on the problems without categorization, quantification & analysis of the material on these playlists: everyone is generalizing & grinding their own axe; without more specifics, we will go nowhere & feel bad over the lack of progress AGAIN…we can’t call out the ClearChannels of this world without such specifics & analysis of the policies AND bottom lines!

  59. herb knight Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    There should be no debate that the music presented on the airways has substantial negative impact on at least some of our children. Are we as a “community” capable of effective action directed toward the artists or the distribution process which profits from such psychologically deforming “art”? I would be happy to follow the lead of an organization such as the NAACP if they would take up this charge..

  60. Traci404 Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm


    Clear Channel is a CORPORATION – do you think they give a flying flip about ” The Community”.??? It’s a business.

    Boycott the sponsors, and do it via grass roots. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

    Dont send out a press release…JUST DO IT.

    We are still thinking white folks care about you and your kids….THEY DON”T.

    As 50 Cent Said: Its marketing- all this Gangsta Life is Marketing. If they did, where are the public service announcements on Chicago stations telling young men. “, there is a better life. Put down the guns.”

    Never going to happen- cause they don’t care if the music being played into these impressionable young men – is psychologically killing them.

    We have grown men, thinking they will get rich off of a mix tape. cause some one else did it 5 years ago. Meanwhile the world, shifted moved and spun, right before their eyes.

    How does a artist make money off of a 99cent download.

    You dont! Most of these Mix Tape “about to come out” folks have no clue.

    Which leads me to this:

    radio stations make money off of advertising. Turn off the radio, don’t buy products from the sponsors.

    CLEAR CHANNEL is a business – dont buy from their advertisers. And turn the radio off.

    Get your music from Sirrus OR Podcasts.

    Don’t say…we cant afford it. There was a line rapped around the corner for the new JORDANS and the new Lebron James sneakers.

    We are getting played like a fiddle. We are still marching, and protesting.
    And have not learned anything in 50 years.

    How do you get america to respond…??? STOP SPENDING YOUR MONEY.

    You want better music, stop supporting the c**p they are selling us.

    Turn off the Radio .

    We are still playing round with an abacus….and the rest of the world has gone digital.

  61. Truthbeliever Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

    It’s all about choices. Teach your children to have an appreciation for other kinds of music. That doesn’t mean they won’t sneak and listen to garbage sometimes, but at least they will know that’s not all there is to music.

  62. corbin56 Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Oh geeez, is your real name really Leader?? (fb) How much did your mother have to drink on the day she gave birth to you?? …and do you know the way to San Jose??

    (just had to throw that one in there)

  63. andre young Reply

    October 7, 2013 at 12:39 am

    In all actuality, Black African Americans sold out to the Musical Industrial Complex years ago. When, MIC usurped our Soul, Jazz, and Blues music, for what is titled, Rock & Roll. Whatever R&R is? I was around, when Caucasians would not play Elvis Presley’s imitations of Black music i.e Little Richard(Glad they did not call him Little ****) and lifestyle. We played his music. Also, I was around, when narcissistic Preachers and other so-called leaders began their integration propaganda. Now, the Black Community is full of integration brained washed *****es. Gone are those days of a common destiny, common suffering, common goals and aspirations, to become a collective group of splintered capitalist pigs.

  64. Sandra Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Why is **** Gregory name got stars in it as if it’s a bad word? If his name is ****, it is what it is. And tell Black artist to stop making curse and other explicit songs and there will not be any of these raps to put on the radio. My beautiful Black Women stop being in these videos, exploiting yourself.

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  66. WaltB31 Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    As an aside, Clear Channel, owned by Bain Capital, also employs Rush Limbaugh and the majority of Right Wing talk radio. Coincidence? I think not.

  67. Pinch Hit Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Dr Boyce should start a fund to collect money to sue this giant. I most certainly would contribute!

  68. Maypopper1 Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    While you at it, get rid of the white jesus image. The single most destructive icon for black people.

  69. Ann G. Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Guess what, if no one was listening to this music in the Black community they would have to get rid of it for the advertisers would not pay for it. But since mama is twerking and loving it, so are the kids. I keep telling you, it starts at home! I don’t like certain TV or radio channels so I don’t look or listen to them, Fox being one of them!

  70. Harold Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    The quickest fix is to get the females to shun that music.
    As usual, the males will follow. Clear Channel and others
    will have to change or fall.

  71. Joseph L. Bass, EdD Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t see radio stations playing the type of music discussed. It’s the fact that there exists a large number of people that like to listen to the music. Stopping the stations from playing it will not change their culture and there interest in listening to it. You need to do something about the culture of the people that listen to it. That is the problem. Joseph L. Bass, EdD

  72. Rev. George Brooks Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Brother Boyce, why do you and a handfull of other *****
    leaders have to beg for an appointment, and then beg these
    crackers and ****, who run the American media, to take a
    show, here and there, off the air? Or some degraded rap
    nonsense? Why don’t you “BLACK LEADERS,” including Cornell
    West, and other *****es professors at white colleges, who
    refuse to even teach a brief summer class at any black
    college once in a while, DEMAND that this garbage is
    removed and kept off the airwaves. And see if Al Sharpton
    can be excused from the white boys and **** at MSNBC, who
    also tied in with the ones that boss and control the one
    sitting in the presidential seat, if he (Sharpton) can go
    with you all to make your demands. Not beg, but demand!!!
    We are talking about our children here. And call me and
    I will certainly join you. BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO
    DEMAND, NOT TO CRY AND BEG. — Rev. George Brooks

    • David Jones Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      You nailed it. Boyce and the other phony–pimp black leaders are in it for the profit and will never confront white corporate America. The white man permit them to make their money off black suffering by talking loud and saying nothing to pacify black people as long as they don’t protest and h**t their profits. White folks are worried about these pimps and their lives are not in danger–this is why they can travel the country without security. A major difference between Dr.King and these phonies.

      • David Jones Reply

        October 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm

        never worried

    • brooklyn sean Reply

      October 7, 2013 at 10:47 am


  73. Barbara Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Why don’t you use Richard Claxton Gregory’s real name so you don’t have to blot out the name D.i.c.k?

    Great article.

  74. Mike Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Wow! “d**k” Gregory; “v*****t”; “d***h” bed; “k**l” his endorsement deal! That is so silly to eliminate words like this because of your fear of searches on search engines! If you don’t have mature enough writers (or an audience), why don’t you j.u.s.t. s.p.e.l.l. e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. l.i.k.e. t.h.i.s.?

  75. Ed Holmes Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    d**k Gregory, really? Grow up!!!!

  76. Darrell Lee Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

    As a black man, I find it repulsive that my suppose to be brethren aren’t accountable for anything. I’ve never seen a *** hold hostage a recording studio and force our people to produce it. One may argue the bigwigs may influence it. The true tale is who makes us like it? Nobody! They’re playing what is demanding and the data is in the YouTube views. Radio has been fighting a losing battle for sometime. Who listens to the radio? We have more power over our listening pleasure than ever before. Thanks to software like Pro Tools, this generation is recording their own music, at their own rate with their own rules. Popular music is genuinely popular music now. People are making what wants to be heard. I cannot stand what is being played and I listen to my share of ratchet music but solely at my discretion. I do not like what is being played on the radio then I can freely plug in my phone. Simple.

    Most of the black people’s problems are our own.

    • Chris40 Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      True dat on your post!!!

  77. epifani9 Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

    For years, I worked for CCR until they had one of their infamous layoffs…I realized after going to a localized station that the poisoning of our youth is evident. Point blank, so much of the craziness is out there and promoted…hard. The station I work for play positive music of yesterday and today as well as promote great things going on in the community. CCR does it to fulfill their FCC requirements, however, and even then it’s small and few. Hold them responsible. Shut them down by not promoting and downloading IHurtRadio. We the people are stronger than we know.

  78. shield Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

    sorry but clear channel can’t be blamed because it is these black men that sells their souls out for money FYI they have to bow down to the beast, when they do sell out. They become puppets then massa is able to do as he please with the content these rappers provide they don’t give a d**n about the destruction of their own people. That is exactly why when they make it to the top they never uplift their community or provide economic stimulation to help their own people! Clear chanel is heaily invested in the prison industrial complex including the president. But these rappers do not care anything for a buck scriptures says what a man gain by gaining the world and losing his soul? For money is truely the root of all evil. Jacob oh israel we must endure till the end.

    • Darrell Lee Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

      That comment is contradictory and hypocritical. How do one criticizes another’s action that they find shameful but in the same breath criticize them for their rewards of said action?

      I mean why would you or the “community” want the rewards of something you condemn? You said (paraphrasing) that they bow to the “enemy” then criticize them for not sharing their rewards from the enemy with the “community”. That is against the cause. I hate when rappers spew detrimental raps then give out backpacks at the beginning of school years. Doesn’t make sense or isn’t fair. Regular well-off folks should be lifting each other not waiting on other people.

    • Will Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

      I attended a BBQ at t he local baseball park to celebrate the start of the new season. 5 to 7 year olds were running around in their Jackie Robinson themed uniforms and for a moment this kids could just be that…..KIDS. Then came the DJ. He set up the music and the first song he decided to play was F—king Problems as loud as ever. Many of the parents were in disbelief even though we were in Newark NJ. We simply thought that no one would be stupid enough to play such music but there was no way that I could take it any longer. I confront the youngster and as I started to tear into him other parents joined in and that is when I came to me. The kid was clueless. He had no idea that this was inappropriate ( deer in the head lights look on his face). The radio made the somg legit but after that we started hearing soulful music.

      • Darrell Lee Reply

        October 6, 2013 at 11:09 am

        I highly doubt it was radio. Maybe it is the patrons at his other events vehemently requested that song. So, he unwisely thought the crowd wants that record played too.

      • berdell fleming Reply

        October 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

        you are so right. I had a friend who chaperoned
        a teen dance . She said after breaking up a number of couples from doing raunchy and dirty dancing. She said it took her a while to realize that the kids really don’t know what inappropriate
        and not!!
        Going back and teaching appropriate skills is vital for our community .

      • satch Reply

        October 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

        they had a basketball game out here is seattle and a young brother was dj and this fool played records with n-blaring out in a gym that was majority white .this fool was too dumb to know he was wrong these young bros think they are cool when they do stuff like this

  79. Osiris Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 5:38 am

    How can you write an entire article about a subject pointing out a problem and never saying the true name of the culprit of the crime. Clear Channel was bought out in 2008 by Bain Capital Thomas H. Lee partners. Amazingly enought that was the same peroid of time at least were I live that the only R & B station that played traditional R&B, Jazz, Soul and decent Hip Hop which was family owned by the name of WGPR switched format to some c**p filled junk. One day they are playing P-Funk, Stevie and Earth, Wind and Fire. The next day they are playing Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross.

    The same Bain Capital members also invest heavily in the Prison Industrial Complex and private prisons. Meanwhile when Mitt Romeny and other of his type who help found Bain Capital run for Public Office the first thing they love to do is chastise or tell Blacks who to think, act and what to do with their lives. After years of programming through their media of how to destroy your life. They get to create the problem with their propagandea and make money off you from that. Then they get to offer you the solution and make money off you from that.

    Wake up Black People. Some of you in 2013 still don’t understand that you have enemies. Just because no one is burning a cross on your lawn anymore in most cases or trying to lynch you physically. Doesn’t mean they aren’t using soft k**l weapons to destroy you. Whenever we have this discussion. The usual kneegrow come in with the blankett solution of ‘own your own stations’ so you won’t have this problem. Which is true. But it that would take money, years of training, licenses and even better yet a community committment.

    Our people are too fragmented for end solutions to an immediate problem. That should be our goal yes. But for right now, the only thing that works to stop this evil is either fear or violence. I know some of you don’t like that talk because it requires having a spine and actually risking something. But there is no such thing as a revolution without blooshed. Until you are ready to put your collective foots up someone’s behind and stop them from putting this poison in your community go ahead and wait another 30 or 50 years for someone to come up with the finances to own their own Black Media and then hope they don’t sell out and do the same things your enemy is doing to stay in business.

    • Osiris Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 5:48 am

      Also I’d appreciate it if you would find a doggone web designer and stop with that book you bought at the mall for how to design your own website for dummies generic c**p. The page won’t load half the time. The page drops out of the screen. When you write comments the box is so small you can’t even read your own typing and have to hope you didn’t make any mistakes while typing because the screen won’t show it. I like the site and all but it really looks like s**t and childish. I’m not asking for flash videos or fancy graphics but the whole filter angle for people s names like **** Gregory is silly. While I can type f******o a million times. Please let us know is this site for pre-schoolers who are on the internet without adult supervision or is this fa place where grown ups can discuss adult issues.

      I can’t type: Why did he blow up the car without the silly filter.

      But: She rode me like a horse goes through?

      Makes no sense.

    • Johnlee Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 7:32 am

      “But for right now, the only thing that works to stop this evil is either fear or violence. I know some of you don’t like that talk because it requires having a spine and actually risking something. But there is no such thing as a revolution without blooshed”

      …and what exactly is stopping YOU from committing acts of fear and violence?? Since this is your ultimate solution it sounds like YOU are the one without a spine or willing to take the risk. The last person who took up arms to address injustice was former LA cop Christopher Dorner. I agree with most of what you said but stating that it would take too many years and lack of finances for black people to own their own radio and TV station is ridiculous. Their are black multimillionaires now who could band together and do this but they wont. Black people and white appointed black leaders let them off the hook because they write checks to charity but ignore how they invest their millions with whites. The problem is we have been condition to think that racial diversity and integration will be our savor. In reality that’s what’s destroying us. There was a time when black people owned their own businesses newspapers, looked out for each other and knew who the true enemy (whites) was. So call black leaders put a stop to all that preaching that intergrating with whites would be the solution to our problems. I agree that we need to stop supporting all this cr@p on the radio TV and movies. But black people haven’t open their eyes up to what’s calling itself leadership in the black community. We can’t even open our eyes up to the worthless bi racial clown we elected president that ignores us. These leaders and black politicians never had black people best interest at heart. Whites have always decided who will be black leaders and opinion makers. **** created the NAACP. I don’t disagree that violence with eventually happen due to whats going on. But instead of preaching violence to others you better ask yourself what’s stopping you from doing it.

    • Marsha Reply

      October 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Thanks for bringing up Bain Capital. I recall back in 2009, when they acquired Clear Channel, I was thinking why would they invest so much in a declining industry and a coming recession. Little did I know they were investing in the further decline of the black youth.
      Bain Capital acquires it music from Viacom and Time Warner. They play the same c**p on heavy rotation. Vanguard Group Incorporated is heavily invested in Time Warner and Viacom. Vanguard is the largest holder in CCA ( private prisons).

      HipHopandpolitics said it best, “The people who own the media are the same people who own the private prisons, the EXACT same people, and using one to promote the other is lucrative.”

  80. Mike Brown Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I agree Dr.Boyce This monopoly of Clear Channel Radio playing self destructive music to our youth is not cool they are apart of the conspiracy to destroy our youth.

  81. Peter D. Slaughter Reply

    October 6, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I gave up on souled out watered down so-called black urban radio years ago.
    I use to want to DJ but when I started to hear how these same old negative records were being played over and over.
    I said I was done.
    There was no way somebody could pay me enough money to sit in some box and play sell-out trashy,self destructive music to black people and to urban black communities.

    ?? Who stole the soul ”
    ?? Who souled the soul ?
    This white owned and operated media giant.
    A vast 5 of black people just don’t get it.
    Those who seem to think it’s just some entertainment do not understand this type of programming is self destructive and toxic.
    All we have to do is look at the levels of violence among black people in these urban communities.
    We can also look at the numbers of black people b**t,killed and locked up.
    This can be traced back excessive,self destructive media exsposure over and over supposedly as some form of hip entertainment but really vast of black people being mentally seasoned to be programmed and brainwashed as mindless consumer robots

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