Lawmakers Advise Hip-Hop Industry At Summit

Members of Congress urged the hip-hop industry yesterday (June 12) to better regulate the content of their records before Washington beats them to it. "We do not know the hip-hop generation. We do not

Members of Congress urged the hip-hop industry yesterday (June 12) to better regulate the content of their records before Washington beats them to it. "We do not know the hip-hop generation. We do not know the hip-hop industry," said Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.) during the first day of the Russell Simmons-organized Hip-Hop Summit in New York. "We feel that those who know themselves and those that know the industry can regulate it better."

While parental advisory stickers already appear on CDs deemed inappropriate for children, Hilliard said, "We need to go to the next level and go beyond that." He suggested a voluntary ratings system similar to that of the movie industry.

Meanwhile, Congress is considering ways of imposing standards on the business. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) recently introduced legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission the authority under its false and deceptive advertising laws to act against entertainment companies that market "unsuitable" material to children. The congressmen warned they could place more stringent restrictions on the industry. "Washington can regulate you out of business if you do not have your act together," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss).

Among those present for the first day of the summit -- aimed at addressing hip-hop issues, including artists' responsibilities -- were Sean Combs, Jermaine Dupri, and Luther "Luke" Campbell, whose raunchy lyrics during his 2 Live Crew days in the late '80s and early '90s challenged free speech laws.

Campbell said he was disappointed by Lieberman's criticism of rap. "We've got somebody, Lieberman, that we supported seriously in the election, as black people, and he's the one that's mainly attacking us. To me, that's really a slap in the face," Campbell said. "To now try and take food off our table and try and deaden our industry and try and put a whole lot of black people out of work, that's serious to me."

A spokesman for the former vice presidential candidate declined to comment.

Eminem, Queen Latifah, and Jay-Z are among the artists expected to attend the conference today (June 13), which will feature a keynote address from the Rev. Louis Farrakhan.


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