A few days ago, a friend called my attention to a disturbing video that had appeared at XXL.com, the online companion to the popular hip-hop magazine. On it, rapper Too $hort offers what he calls "fatherly advice" to boys on how to interact with girls. The 45(!)-year-old isn't telling the young bredren how to get a date to the school dance or how to ask a cutie pie classmate for her phone number. No, $hort Dogg is explaining in very graphic detail how to digitally stimulate a young girl sexually, or how to "finger" one, if you will.
Though XXL removed the clip, Madame Noire managed to capture most of the "I'm a Player'" rapper's horrifying rant:
“When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls… I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks. This is what you do, man. A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls, we’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole.
There’s a general area down there, a little spot that girls have that feels really good to them. Don’t kiss them down there yet, that’s later in life. But this is what you do. You push her up against the wall or pull her up against you while you lean on the wall and you take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens. It’s like magic. You gotta find her spot, they all have a different one, but it’s somewhere in there. Just go for it. When you feel like it becomes a little more moist that’s when you know you’re doing it right.”
After raising major eyebrows and drawing the anger of many, Too $hort took to Twitter to do what folks always do when they get caught messing up…pretend they just accidentally landed in a bad place: "I want to apologize to anyone I may have offended w/ the XXL video I recently did. When I got on camera I was in $hort mode & had a lapse of judgement. I would never advise a child or young man to do these things…It’s not how I get down.Although Ive made my career on dirty raps,Ive worked over the yrs to somewhat balance the content of my music w/ giving back to my community. Just coming from a man who wants to see young people get ahead in life, I’m gonna do my best to to help and not hurt."
In another clip for the site, Shaw talks about how he's 45-years-old (again…!) and has no children, nor "baby mamas." Rapper 2 Chainz (neé Tity Boy…do we really need to continue this year's Black History Month? I'm just sayin') recently stated in a verse that his "dad wasn't around/Too $hort was (his) father figure." It's peculiar how seriously Shaw seems to take this, and coupled with his mention of not being an actual father to any kids, it seems that this video series is an odd attempt at using what he believes to be fatherly skills that he has going to waste on a shelf.
Sir. Have a seat. Have five of them.
'Positive' and 'negative' are dubious terms in hip-hop. We'll call a rapper 'positive' because he doesn't wear gold chains and waves incense as he calls Black women out of their names. Yet, I think most of us would agree that the messages in Too $hort's music have been largely negative. Thus, I'm not surprised to hear him say terrible, sexist things. This is someone who's entire career has been built on songs about pimping and f*cking women without respecting them. And, well, this is the guy known for the famous call and response "What's my favorite word? Biiiiitch!"
This isn't the first time the California rapper has tried to motivate young men. Shaw claims to have attended the Million Man March in 1995, which he referenced on the song "Gettin' It": "(Minister Farrahkhan) said meet me at the White House and I was there/Cause I'm one in a million, Black men rising/They wanna keep me down but I always surprise em…" It's amazing how so many of our brothers feel compelled to nurture and support men and boys, but the well is completely dry as it relates to the sisters. If Too $hort has 99 problems, one could imagine that his issues with women would dominate the list.
Alas, this isn't run of the mill hip-hop sexism; this is instructing young boys to perform a sexual act on young girls. If that weren't bad enough on its own, Shaw never tells his young viewers "Make sure you ask the girl if she's okay with you putting your hands on her" or "Don't even try this if a young lady hasn't explicitly stated that she's ready to get intimate with you." No, no, none of that consent stuff. This FORTY FIVE YEAR OLD MAN wants the young fellas to "get inside a girl's mind", no matter what that takes. Coercion, perhaps even assault, is of no consequence here. Hence, no explanation of how to proceed if the target in question says "Stop! I don't want you to do that!"
We often equate musical talent with intelligence, often to our own detriment. Jay-Z is intelligent. Mos Def is intelligent. After watching these videos, I'm feeling like Too $hort is missing something. Aside from the thing that tells you NOT to coach underage boys through sex acts. But he isn't the only one responsible for this horrifying clip. You have the videographer, the editors, the interns and staff present for the taping (Shaw mentions that women in the room should cover their ears, as they are starting to look offended)…and you have XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten, who claims she didn't watch the video before it was posted and that she had it removed as soon as she became aware. Personally, I'm not buying that, but okay. Everyone who was involved with producing this clip should be subject to some serious professional consequences and if Satten, as she claims, really hadn't watched it, then she needs to be cleaning house immediately. Otherwise, it just seems like the XXL crew and Too $hort are only sorry that they got called to the carpet.
Hip-hop can be dangerous territory for young women, particularly young Black girls. The music often gives men and boys a virtual instruction guide on how to mistreat, disrespect and disregard females…Too $hort and XXL took that to the next level and provided a LITERAL instruction guide. Make sure you don't forget that when you are spending your iTunes and magazine dollars.
For Harriet has created a campaign to create Twitter awareness around this issue and to encourage those who are offended to support efforts to have Satten removed from her post at XXL. Check that out here. Also, non-Twitter users can voice their frustrations via this petition.
Jamilah Lemieux is the News & Lifestyle editor for EBONY.com. She also tweets a little.