Stop Supporting Artists Who Normalize Sexual Assault
    • THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2017

    • Posted by: Larisha Paul

    I'm not sure if anyone noticed or cared, because I didn't, but rapper Kodak Black, best known for his song "Tunnel Vision," recently deleted all of his social media after receiving extensive backlash in regards to a comment he made during an Instagram livestream. During this stream, Kodak asked viewers to send him names of celebrities he should try to "fuck with," as if the pool of demand is so large that he can't decide himself–I don't think I've ever rolled my eyes at something so hard. Anyway, someone commented suggesting that Black make actress Keke Palmer a contender to which he responded, "Keke Palmer ... I'll bag her but, you know what I'm saying, I don't really fuck with black girls like that." No, Kodak. I'm sorry. I don't know what you're saying–and apparently, since everyone is so outraged over this, no one else does either.

    When asked about the nature of his comments, Black has said, in a no longer accessible tweet, that it's just his "preference" to be with women with lighter skin tones and that he loves African Americans as a unit. I'm not going to say that he should have just apologized and left it at that, because we all know an apology after saying something like that just wouldn't be acceptable–especially because he isn't sorry. I understand completely why people have been reacting in such a negative way, we're all about supporting black women of all colors; but, what isn't clear to me is why this comment was the final straw for so many Kodak Black fans. Of course it was an incredibly problematic statement to make, but this was not Kodak's first major slip up.

    Back in February of 2016, he was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a hotel in South Carolina. After being released from prison after serving completely unrelated charges, Black was sent to SC to face the sexual assault charges, which he ended up never doing because he paid a $100K bond and was able to walk free. He was 'free' for about two months before he landed himself back in jail on a probation violation. Then, in April of this year, allegations of an attack committed against an employee at a Miami strip club surfaced. These critical accusations began over a year ago, and have continued into very recent times; so, my question is why was the first assault allegation not the first and final straw for his listeners? Why not the second one? Why did it take him saying he doesn't like black girls to get people to realize how awful he is?

    As much as I hate to say it, I'm not in the least bit surprised by this response. This entire situation just upholds the fact that assault against women is often normalized in the music industry and because of that, people have become desensitized to the gravity of the issue. Kodak Black's career isn't over. He may be taking a hit right now, but people aren't going to stop listening to his music and thus supporting his career. That doesn't happen. Take a look at Chris Brown. I'm sure we're all familiar with his past relationship with Rihanna and how he literally almost killed her. That didn't stop people from supporting him, with many people using the excuse, "Oh, Rihanna forgave him! He's changed!" I didn't realize we gave second chances to people who abuse their significant others, especially when they have not changed in the slightest.

    Brown had dated actress/model Karrueche Tran for quite some time before things went south and he began terrorizing her as well. Just two weeks ago, Karrueche was granted a 5 year restraining order against Chris, saying in the hearing that he threatened to beat her and testifying that he had done so before. But even with all of this, his career remains intact. I just don't understand how so many people–his fans, family, friends, label, etc.– can continue to support someone who has done so many terrible things. Some fans try to pull the whole, "I'm just here for the music card," which 1. doesn't make it any better and 2. doesn't even hold up. How can anyone be in it for the music when every song Chris Brown has released in recent years sounds identical the ones he's released years before that? He has shown zero growth as a person and should never have been given the amount of opportunities that he has, and Kodak Black shouldn't have either, or anyone else who has had legitimate assault allegations made against them.

    I find it interesting that back in May when queer-punk duo PWR BTTM had people come out with sexual assault allegations against member Ben Hopkins, the group was almost immediately dropped from their label and their music was abruptly yanked from nearly every streaming platform. They had lost everything in the matter of days, and rightfully so–people saw the severity of the allegations and acted accordingly. Why don't we see this response with every artist who has been said to have committed abusive acts? Why did we only witness a rapid response when a queer individual was at the center of the controversy? Had PWR BTTM been a duo of straight men this would have never happened. They would have gotten a slap on the wrist and everyone would have called it a day. Let me clarify for a second that this is not me supporting PWR BTTM–no one should be able to get away with abusing anyone, sexually or otherwise. However, it is so entirely screwed up that this isn't the universal response to be given.

    It can be argued that labels and management companies cannot simply drop every artist who has assault allegations come out against them, because it takes time to verify the veracity of the events said to have took place; however, most of these claims tend to be true. Also, if the people responsible for those who are never properly reprimanded in these cases refuse to no longer associate with and promote them, the least they could do is not advocate for the normalization of the behavior of these individuals. Back in 2013, one of the biggest songs in the world was Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." The problem with this song, that many people tried to overlook, was how rape-y the lyrics were. From "I know you want it" to "I'm just watching and waiting," there isn't much attention paid to the concept of consent and privacy. Many people who have been, or know of people who have been, victims of sexual assault expressed their disbelief that a song with this kind of lyrical content could be being played on multiple radio stations around the world at any given time; but, at no point was the song ever removed from any platforms.

    The constant failure of the music industry to reproach assault and abuse culture is more damaging than people may realize. On the abuser's part, people will see them and observe the ways in which they are able to get away with their horrible actions, thus causing them to believe that they can do the same. Through this these people are made to presume that they are detached from all responsibility, and if not that they can buy their way out of trouble. They wouldn't be able to buy their way out of anything if their source of income called them out on their actions rather than brushing them under the rug and continuing to allow the individual to sell records. This also opens a door for the fans who are seeing this behavior become normalized and consequently believing that they can go into the world with a mindset of thinking said behavior is acceptable.

    It is also just completely ridiculous that we can be witnesses to artists singing and/or rapping about assault and/or committing it with no problem, but when people in the industry are victims themselves, it's an uphill battle for them to build support for their case. Take Kesha for example: she has been battling an assault case against her former producer Dr Luke for nearly 3 years. In this time, Kesha has not been able to work with record labels, producers, or publishers, thus not being able to release new music and maintain a brand and image for herself. While her career is slipping further and further away, with people only checking in on the progress of the case and creating some hashtag for it every few months, no one with any pull is doing anything. Many artists have reached out and expressed how they would love to work with her, but that doesn't change the fact that on a larger scale the music industry is doing next to nothing to show their support for her.

    If you are out in the world committing acts of violence and assault against people that could land you in jail there is no reason why you should be receiving support from anyone, let alone the industry that's lining your pockets with money. All of that support and energy should be going towards those individuals who have worked hard for what they have without the use of rape culture, and it's disappointing that this has to be said at all. No one should have to be told that supporting artists who normalize sexual assault is both dangerous and wrong. When you hear that an artist you enjoy listening to has been allegedly involved in a sexual abuse incident, at no point should you ever stop and think "Is that bad enough to make me not want to support them any longer?" because the answer should be obvious. Yes, it is bad enough. No one should have to tell you this because the last time I checked, common sense as well as moral judgement were both things that existed. We all have a responsibility to uphold when it comes to who we give our money and support to in regards to music (or anything, really), and I hope to see a drastic change in everyone's bullshit tolerance threshold in the immediate future, because right now it seems that too many people have their standards set very low.
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