In the mid 1990s C. Delores Tucker was lambasted and harassed for her voice against Gangsta Rap music. Beneficiaries and fans of the insidious music genre attacked her in song and called her “narrow-minded,” an old thinker, as she stood alone in her campaign against lyrics that degraded the Black community and its people.
Today, we are living the outcome of what Ms. Tucker used her voice to speak out about and fight fiercely against.
At the height of her campaign against Gangsta Rap, C. Delores Tucker was in her sixties. She was an unapologetic, fearless elder of our community with a lifetime of experience in her view. She stood tall, literally and figuratively, and dared to say what no one else would when it was unpopular and uncomfortable to do so.
But Ms. Tucker knew something grotesque and ominous was forming right before us. She knew that nothing good and everything bad would happen as a result of the constant messaging of degradation delivered through Gangsta Rap lyrics to a community, its people and the greater world of listeners.
It is time to remember C. Delores Tucker and revisit her battle for the Black community and against those who were not friends and who effectively contributed to the conditions we are in today.
Ms. Tucker died in October 2005 at the age of 78.
A brief history of C. Delores Tucker’s Campaign against Gangsta Rap:
As Tucker explained to Chicago Tribune writer Monica Fountain, “these images of black young kids acting like gangstas go all around the world.” She objected to such lyrics being sold to minors and asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch an inquiry. Both the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus lent support to Tucker’s cause. Congressional hearings were held on the subject in 1994, and soon afterward Tucker set her sights on an even larger target, the Time Warner media empire. The company distributed Interscope, whose rap subsidiary, Death Row Records, put out the recordings of some of the most popular gangsta artists. Tucker purchased stock in Time Warner, which allowed her the privilege of attending shareholders’ meetings and speaking out. At a May 1995 shareholders’ meeting, she stood and asked the executives to read aloud the very lyrics through which their company reaped such profits. They refused. “How long will Time Warner continue to put profit before principle?” she asked at the meeting, according to Fountain’s Chicago Tribune article. “How long will it continue to turn its back on the thousands of young people who are dying spiritually and physically due to the violence perpetuated in these recordings?”
Tucker also focused her ire at Time Warner chair Gerald Levin.
“I told him about the black males-25 percent are either in jail or under some judicial regulation, ” she declared in another Chicago Tribune profile by Sonya Ross. “I said, ‘Mr. Levin, how are we going to raise a race of people with no men?“‘ Tucker has also noted that she has served as surrogate parent to many nieces and nephews, not all of whom went down the right path, and over the years came to realize that cultural forces and images play a large role in shaping self-esteem.
Not long after the incident, Time Warner sold its interest in Interscope.
Tucker considered it a victory, but Death Row head Marion “Suge” Knight hired investigators and then filed suit against Tucker on behalf of his roster of artists. She was accused of conspiracy and extortion as a result of a meeting with Knight at which two recording artists (who were also National Political Caucus of Black Women members), Melba Moore and Dionne Warwick, were also present. Supposedly the women offered Knight a deal to leave Interscope and sign with a black-owned record company they planned, but Tucker retorted that they had simply asked him to try for more positive messages in his artists’ music. He said he would need “distribution” to engineer such a situation, and Moore and Knight agreed then to look into financing for such a possible black-owned enterprise.
Source: This information was pulled from various news organization by answers.com
Gangsta Rap artists joined in the campaign to ridicule and humiliate C. Delores Tucker.
In his hit song, “How Do You Want It,” Tupac Shakur pounced on Ms. Tucker. He blasted her with these lyrics, “Delores Tucker, youse a mother*****.” Then in the Eminem, 50 Cent hit “D-12,” the White rapper took his turn assaulting her when he belted out, “Tell that C. Delores Tucker sl** to suck a d*** Mother**** ducked, what the f***?”
This is the vile and venom C. Delores Tucker was hit with. Not because she was doing harm to her community, but because she was doing great and loved her community enough to take the hits. For me, this assault from skilled, talented artists and the corporations that back them was an especially low moment for the Black community and an indication of the direction we – Black people – were headed. We had arrived at a point of no return.
In a social network discussion with my friend, Eugene Holley, about actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent tweet, “niggaz in Paris for real,” at the JayZ and Kanye Paris concert, he reminded me of these lyrics in the Funkadelic composition Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts, ”You descend to the level of your lowest concept of your self,” (read the full lyrics). Gangsta Rap rose to that lowest level of expectations in its degrading treatment of our community and an elder of our community; and, in the implicit permission it effectively has given the greater community to participate in our ruin. Another friend, Sherry Ormond of Brooklyn who is a mother of three said about C. Delores Tucker, and that time she fought for us even when we shunned her, “Sometimes, we have to take a step back and humble ourselves to the elders when they speak about the future.”
C. Delores Tucker, you were right. You knew what was to come. Here we are today, bearing witness to what you predicted as recent as two decades ago. It has come to pass.