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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
UK hip hop 'needs ethics code'
So Solid Crew
So Solid Crew's lyrics have come under fire

Race leaders, musicians and academics are discussing setting up an ethical code for the British black music industry to tackle the increasing use of offensive lyrics.

The debate has been organised by the Black Music Congress (BMC) which was set up to discuss issues around black music.

It is the first time such high level talks about the lyrical content of black British musicians' work has taken place.

Panellists include Lee Jasper - race relations advisor to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Tony Sewell - columnist with black newspaper The Voice and an academic, and Justin Onyeka, entertainment editor at another black newspaper, New Nation.

More than 200 people are expected to attend the talks which are being held at City University in central London on Saturday.

Swearing 'prevalent'

Kwaku, co-founder of the BMC, said: "There needs to be a forum for these issues to be discussed, black musicians keep pushing at the boundaries.


Using bad language and showing explicit videos helps perpetuate negative stereotypes of black people

Kwaku
BMC co-founder
"You can go to parties with your children and the DJ is playing music with swear words in it and doesn't think it's a problem because offensive lyrics are so prevalent in black music.

"It used to be hip hop, garage and ragga but now it's even creeping into R&B"

The BMC will be seeking permission from those involved in the talks to write an open letter to the media and senior British record industry executives demanding that artists and record labels adopt and sign an ethical code.

The congress will also seek to agree that explicit lyrical content in black music does have a negative impact, particularly on young listeners and that explicit imagery in music videos devalues black music and black people by reinforcing racist stereotypes.

Young influenced

Kwaku added: "Using bad language and showing explicit videos helps perpetuate negative stereotypes of black people.

"Black music also influences the younger generation who look at the imagery and listen to the language as something to aspire to.


All we're seeing is a reflection of the world we live in

Agzilla
Hip hop producer
"Personally I feel disappointed we don't use other ways of using language and imagery."

Some of the UK groups which have been targeted by the BMC include controversial garage band So Solid Crew, hip hop artist Rodney P and former Spice Girls singer Mel B.

The idea of an ethical code is unlikely to meet with universal approval from recording artists.

Agzilla, a UK hip hop producer said: "All we're seeing is a reflection of the world we live in - so who's to blame? I wouldn't sign an ethical code.

"As for kids being influenced by the music it's parents who should raise their children not recording artists."

See also:

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