ACTIVISM/MUSIC/OPINION

Ashanti’s Promotional Assault

Over the last 15 years as a black activist, I have been a voice of concern on various issues that I personally felt needed attention drawn to them. I’ve organized gang truces in South Los Angeles, protested police brutality and coordinated forums to help stem black on black violence, among countless other causes. There are some who say I have been at the forefront of the movement to help stop the violence and increase the peace.

This is why I, along with several of my colleagues nationwide, have launched a campaign to draw attention to R&B singer Ashanti. I think she should be ashamed of herself. Her participation in the glorification of violence in her music video for “The Way I Love You” sends a horrible message to thousands of impressionable young people worldwide who are accessing a promotional site for her album called the Universal Crime Network. The site is built to look like a news blog complete with an article “reporting” on a crime of passion instigated by the Ashanti video. The first page of this fake news site then morphs amidst blood splatters into a photo of the singer in a gold sequined minidress. This all leads to a sign-up page where fans can send a “Gotcha-Gram.” Why would Universal Music and Motown allow this sickness on their website to draw in young fans with violence?

I’ve been speaking at length to my friend Paul Porter, co-Founder of Industry Ears (www.IndustryEars.com), a new generation non-partisan think tank aimed at addressing and finding solutions to disparities in media that negatively impact individuals and communities. He believes that Universal Music and Motown continue to promote black violence and stereotypes without corporate responsibility.

Ashanti’s senseless promotion is evidence that commercial hip hop is dying fast. Instead of producing and promoting a quality project, Ashanti and Universal have decided to deliver another typical ho hum project that the corporate blue suits have signed off on.

Weak sales projections of less then 75,000 units for first week sales have prompted this mess. Even BET had to edit some of Ashanti’s video content. Hopefully Doug Morris at Universal will explain why his company is insensitive to urban violence. I don’t believe in censorship of artists, but I do believe in corporate and artistic responsibility, especially if minors have access and can be influenced by violent imagery.

Time Warner pulled rapper “Ice-T’s” album from the market after complaints and tremendous pressure by law enforcement about the controversial song “Cop Killer.” The Jewish community forced Sony records and Michael Jackson to change lyrics on one of his songs after they deemed the lyrics anti-Semitic. There are several examples of corporations and artists having to modify material that is deemed inappropriate.

People choose to attack us and want us not to complain. Well, I have seen the Ashanti video and I believe it needs to be pulled. We have enough black on black violence with out any more encouragement from Ashanti, Universal Music and Motown.

Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.


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June 10th, 2008 at 2:32 am SweetSis says:

Tsk Tsk Ashanti, Universal and Motown. This is dumb and beneath you all. Even though Ashanti has no record of rising above so maybe this is predictable?

June 10th, 2008 at 3:35 am cristiner says:

That website is a travesty really

June 10th, 2008 at 4:02 am Regina Holloway says:

She is on minute 14. Can we blame her for trying to revive her career Malcom style - by any means necessary.
But this just went too far I think.

June 10th, 2008 at 7:24 am thelma says:

I mean, one one hand it is her artistic right to depict a woman so in love she is mentally undone. But, Universal took it a speak further by saying there were copycat murders and all that so brother you are right it is like a desperate way to get some attention to a cd don’t nobody care about

June 10th, 2008 at 7:55 am highalove says:

too thruuuuu

June 10th, 2008 at 8:20 am Ed80 says:

Don’t we have worse things to protest about?

June 10th, 2008 at 9:09 am teradise says:

I guess I saw the cleaned up and edited version of the video or was simply not paying much attention to the story line because I missed this

June 10th, 2008 at 10:40 am Binta Rohan says:

Sometimes with all the huge things goin on in the world we underestimate the power of this kind of stuff. I’m glad you are speaking out. That site is unnecessary.

June 10th, 2008 at 11:04 am Stephanie says:

It really doesn’t make any sense. Are they trying to give her a new image?

June 10th, 2008 at 11:19 am heatmizer says:

She didn’t have a shot in hell of selling that damn CD. Now she looks so dumb

June 10th, 2008 at 11:58 am Najee Ali says:

@Ed80 There is always worse stuff to protest our group always does. But that doesnt mean we can make excuses not to do anything or to speak out about issues of violence when we feel obligated.I dont remember writing anything about a protest?. I encourage people to take time and speak we dont have to lay down accept stuff that is nonsense.You protest what you want to and let othere make there own choice

June 10th, 2008 at 12:21 pm hisherness says:

the most outrageous modes of expression are used by people with nothing to say and a disproportionate need to be heard. why offend the public with substance when you can do it with style?

June 10th, 2008 at 2:45 pm Elite says:

Can we stop pointing fingers??? I am not relying on Ashanti to raise my kids; I am relying on myself and God to do that.

I think Ashanti is a very classy young lady. I’ve heard her on numerous occasions’ address that in no way is so condoning violence; she actually got the concept from Snap – which many people watch. Do we blame the show ‘snap’ for violence??

People need to raise more important issues: Disenfranchisement of our college graduates, Corporate Discrimination, Drugs, SEX.. The list goes on. I refuse to blame Ashanti or dismiss her as some useless has been, when she actually writes very good music and is a very intelligent young lady.. BLACK people are so quick to point the finger and bring each other down.

June 10th, 2008 at 5:44 pm CeaseNYC says:

Ashanti classy? Ok then Elite if you say so.
Najee - props, man. Too many people including yours truly complain and then we sit by and wait for somebody to do something about it. You do the work man. Keep it up for all of us. Much respect.

June 10th, 2008 at 6:23 pm yourblackfriend(dot)com says:

I love what you do but that Google ad offering Ashanti ringtones is TOTALLY incongruent. See to it.

June 10th, 2008 at 7:31 pm Tina says:

We don’t need to point fingers but do any of us need to perpetuate the problems? You have to admit that the promotional tactic is tacky. Why do we always have to show BLACK women as crazy murders when our hearts are broken? It is just entertainment but a lot of young women look up to Ashanti and whether parents want to admit it her images do influence those young minds.

June 10th, 2008 at 9:05 pm hisherness says:

@Elite i’m not going to say i agree with one side or another. all i’ll say is that you’ve answered your own question. you rely on yourself and your god to raise your children, and that’s as it should be. what Mr Ali seems to be concerned with is a community. a community wherein everyone takes enough responsibility for their actions so parents don’t have to worry about their good work being undone. a community wherein a child actually *can* turn to an adult and find at least a modicum of proper guidance, though that guidance be subordinate to parental guidance. this is not the way the US works, i admit (we don’t operate on a trust based system because we’re not trustworthy), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a nice goal. i’ll even be as frankly honest as i can be (and hope Mr Ali doesn’t hold it against me): that goal is utopian. i don’t think it can actually be achieved. i can’t fault him for making the attempt, however, because it’s a nice goal to have. aim for the stars, as they say, and you might at least hit the moon.

June 10th, 2008 at 10:10 pm ratty says:

in agreement that it was a little overboard

June 11th, 2008 at 1:45 pm Thad says:

Tsk tsk Porter, the anti-Semite. Alls I’m sayin’ is that we cannot condone racist behavior from anyone.

June 12th, 2008 at 11:12 am mike belgrove says:

I first got wind of Ashanti’s “murdergrams” when my fellow blogger Juan covered it on HN.

Honestly I think it is getting a bit too much concern. Though I do feel it is in bad taste I don’t find it all that bad. just a tasteless practical joke.

If the site hadn’t gotten yanked down I probably would have gotten a person or two with it.

June 13th, 2008 at 6:45 pm Najee Ali says:

Last word on Ashanti & Website. It was taken down a couple of day ago after we took her and her label to task !.
Props to Paul Porter.and everyone concerned about helping to stop violence no matter in what form.