Of all the songs we love to groove to as adults, would you want your 6-year-old singing the more explicit, raunchy tunes? Philadelphia-based Carvin Haggins is making big noise about the music our children hear on the radio, through a campaign called Rage Against the Ratchet. Haggins was once that kid in elementary school fighting the bully who picked on other kids. “You never think that later on in life you’d be that same kid,” Haggins says, laughing.
This community activist makes his living as an award-winning producer, arranger and songwriter for artists like Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, Chrisette Michelle, Mary J. Blige and others. Haggins knows music, but when he was out and about in his community, he once heard a young girl maybe 4 or 5 singing lyrics that were well beyond her maturity level. When asking the girl’s mother if she knew how her daughter came to know the questionable lyrics, the mom said her daughter heard them on the way to school and on the way home on the bus.
Appalled, Haggins began the Rage Against the Ratchet campaign to change the quality of music played on the radio during the times children are going to and leaving school. “Now if you on XM or Sirius, cool,” Haggins allows. “People have to pay for that. But when it’s free terrestrial radio, it’s like, come on, man. We need to be just a touch more responsible. We don’t need every R&B record talking about oral sex or whatever type of drug abuse. There are more positive artists. During the day, give us positive music. Y’all can play that ratchetness at night.”
Rage Against the Ratchet is a nonviolent protest to create community engagement around music. As the website says, “It appears radio stations have compromised to please the artists and an industry that continues to push the hypocrisy of what is acceptable to say and suggest in music.”
Launched in May 2014, his first call to action outside a radio station occurred at Power 99. “The main goal is trying to get them to wake and say listen we got to be responsible,” Higgins notes. He talked to the station managers the day before to ensure they knew his movement was peaceful.
“What was great about that day was, it was so many men out there,” Higgins recalls. “Usually it’s so many women who come and support the issues of our community and try to help get us together. But it was important for men to be there, and the men outnumbered the women. It was a great amount of women there, and there were young children there who felt the same way we felt.”
Expanding from Philadelphia, he’s also held Rage Against the Ratchet rallies in Wilmington, Delaware (at WJKS KISS 101.7 FM) and last week back in Pennsylvania (at WIRED 96.5 FM). So far, he knows most of the community, the youth, and many at the radio stations agree with him.
“Eighty percent is like, ‘Yo, this is needed. This music is out of control.’ I must commend KISS 101.7 FM. We’ve been monitoring [them], and they’ve made sure they changed the edits on the records to make the records cleaner. Though they gave us resistance, we’re noticing a change in the playlist and the edits in the music.”
For more information about this campaign go to rageagainsttheratchet.com.