Steffanie Rivers

Just as dogs bark, cats meow and babies cry some things in life are a given. To expect anything different could upset the balance of nature. So when I read about complaints from some Fayetteville, North Carolina school officials against a local rapper they left me perplexed.

This new rapper, J Cole, recruited band members from his old high school and the cheerleading squad from Fayetteville State University to perform in his debut video. School administrators granted him permission to do so because the students performed in the video wearing their schools’ uniforms. But after the video was released on YouTube.com school officials want it removed saying it reflects poorly on their schools.

(Scroll down to watch the video.)

Throughout the four-minute video the N word is used at least ten times, “bitch” is used at least nine times as part of the chorus and a collection of other curse words was used at least ten times. The rapper referred to God once. Although students in the video only were shown playing instruments and cheering – nothing offensive – I understand how their appearance in the video might cause alarm for school officials because of its explicit lyrics. But what did they expect?

The school superintendent there said they didn’t know such language was going to be used. But even acclaimed rappers have been known to spew the N word and curse throughout their songs.

Everybody can’t be a Common or a Lupe Fiasco and tell a story without cursing. If it was that easy to be a platinum selling rapper probably nobody would curse. But for some people, the more explicit the material the more they want it. Apparently that’s the nature of the rap game.

Don’t get me wrong; I prefer music that I can play no matter who is riding with me or in the car next to me. But when school officials gave permission to their students to participate in a rap video they should have expected just what they got. That’s like having a baby and getting irritated when the baby cries or having a dog and expecting it not to bark: it’s unreasonable.

The expectations of school administrators were naïve at best, especially since they are in the business of working with young people.

Apparently nobody thought to make student participation in the video contingent upon their approval of the final product. That’s not rapper J Cole’s fault. All he wanted was to represent his hometown in his first music video and to draw attention to himself as an up and coming rapper. Thanks to the local and national attention he’s received so far, I’d say he accomplished his goal.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at youtube.com/steffanierivers.

J. Cole’s “Who Dat” video: