Alicia Keys: No one, no one... gets what I was trying to say

Aliciakeys_lIt’s unfortunate that Alicia Keys has backed away from her admittedly intemperate comments to Blender magazine. In her clarification, she says she didn’t intend to blame the government for creating gangsta rap as "a ploy to convince black people to kill each other"; rather, she intended to blame the media for overhyping music that, she acknowledges, sometimes portrays the reality of certain social ills. (As politicians know, when in doubt, blame the media.)

Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist — I prefer not to attribute to malice what can more easily be blamed on stupidity, short-sighted greed, incompetence, or neglect. I don’t think the government is clever or efficient enough to have invented gangsta rap as a hitmaking scheme, much less as a genocidal plot. (Also, if the music really is a plot targeted toward black people, where do all the suburban white kids buying the music fit in?) But it is worth asking how gangsta rap became so popular, to the exclusion of all other forms of rap. It wasn’t just media hype. Was it all just marketing? Or was it, as Keys suggests now, because it addressed social realities that were ignored elsewhere? I’m not fully convinced by any one of these notions, but these are questions that ought to be asked, and it would be a shame if the hyperbole of Keys’ earlier remarks became an excuse to avoid asking them.

If I were truly conspiracy-minded, I’d wonder if Keys’ newly apologetic tone had been forced on her by her management, by someone who worries that being seen as a firebrand will make it harder for her to sell tickets to soccer moms for her elaborately staged arena tour, which kicks off this weekend. I hope that’s not the case; I hope Keys isn’t discouraged from sticking to the goal she outlined to Blender to write political songs in the future; if anyone can make outrage into a hummable hit, it should be Keys.

addCredit(“Alicia Keys: Chris Jackson/Getty Images “)

Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • ceej

    I agree with Alicia that the popularization and glamorization of the genre has given folks “permission” to act all shades of crazy. True, the gansta life-style existed before the music came to light. But the hits made it acceptable to be gangsta and even encouraged folks who were nowhere near that lifestyle to emulate it as a sense of pride, to “keep it real”.
    I hear with AK is coming from, I just think she expressed it very poorly.

  • Stephanie T.

    I think that “Gangsta Rap” had a good and bad persona.
    The good persona, and to be honest, I would not even call it “Gangsta Rap” but more like “Black Political and self awarness rap, started with Grand Master Flash and The Message. You also had Public Enemy with 911 is a Joke, NWA with F-k the Police,and Tupac with Brenda’s got a Baby. Then you had the bad with some rappers glamorizing violence.

  • David

    Wow, EW treating and handling with kid gloves A.K.’s loopy and way out there conspiratorial musings. If this were Mariah EW would certainly crucify and vilify her and would again mention the Glitter debacle. Why the hate on Mariah EW, why?!

  • xmen1963

    First Will Smith saying Hitler is a great man, then Neil Patrick Harris hating Britney Spears, and now Alica Keys saying gangsta rap was invented by the U.S. government to destroy black people. If i was a celebrity, all of my interviews would by live on television, radio, or chat rooms so these jerks would intemperate my comments to make me look like a fool.

  • Rasha

    Honestly, what happened to gangsta rap is what happens to anything that is popular for a reason. It gets, studied, dissected, and then commodified to make money. Rap used to be about illuminating some of society’s ills, drawing attention to the projects and the darker side that most American’s just rather avoid. When people noticed that it was actually making money, executives tried to duplicate what they saw, and thanks to that brilliant idea, we have to deal with “artists” who rap about money their don’t have and basically glory killing and drug-dealing.
    As for Alicia, I knew she was smarter than that. In a world when damn near everything is a soundbyte, everyone’s going to get in hot water at some point or another. If everything I said I was recorded, taken out of context and published, I’d have to live in a bomb shelter, lmfao.

  • Nix

    As long as she actually remembers the distinction between being political (there bad things happening and it’s our duty to make it better) and being a nut (there are bad things happening and it’s all THEIR fault! insert random “other threat” here).

  • Nix

    As long as she actually remembers the distinction between being political (there bad things happening and it’s our duty to make it better) and being a nut (there are bad things happening and it’s all THEIR fault! insert random “other threat” here).

  • Nix

    double post! took forever! it’s a conspiracy!

  • DJ Rogue

    Actually, all that stuff aside, the first thing that bothered me was Alicia’s comment “I’m discovering my sexual side”. According to the article, she “recorded her “most sexual song yet””. If this DOES happen, she’ll fall into the trap that so many talented female R&B singers fall into – as the amount of articles of clothing the ladies wear on their album cover decreases, so too, does the quality of their music. Some glaring examples – Chante Moore, Tamia, Toni Braxton and, the best example – Janet Jackson. I really hope this doesn’t happen to Alicia. I mean, I think her music’s a tad over-produced as it is. Also, as much of an X-Files fan as I am, i’m thinking the government wasn’t responsible for “gangsta music”. The government also wasn’t responsible for Biggie and 2pac’s beef escalating – the media (drama = ratings), their record labels (controversy = record sales/$$$) and (MOST important) their own damn EGOS took care of that.

  • David

    We get it, she’s a blubbering idiot. Who’d have thought it?

  • Dee Dee (AK Fan)

    I believe that this is the blenders way of creating a smear campaign against Alicia. I feel she was being targeted because she tends to stay out of trouble while most celebrites stay in trouble. Not only that, she just released an album and this LIE could stop it from selling. I am bi racial and so is Alicia so there is no way you can declare a bi racial person racist for the fact that somewhere along her bloodlines she would be offending herself. Alicia isn’t the type of character to attack people like that and I think the haters that did this have a cold black heart for targeting a woman so pure. I mean, just by what you see and you don’t see, this woman was a philantropist, and she helps people and everything, it’s sad the The Blender would attempt something like this. If they ruin anything for Alicia, they will get a does of Karma. Like Alicia said in the song Karma “What goes around comes around!” so the blender will get theres in the end.

  • Daisy

    The cat’s out of the bag. Reagan (with the help of the CIA and Bush sr.) developed the ingenious plan to invent gangster rap… people.OK. What about rap industry’s largest purchasing demographic–WHITE PEOPLE? Well, Reagan wanted to commit a full U.S. Genocide, and begin his own race of reaganites–the evidence is there!

  • Snarf

    Oh Brother. Alicia honey, your singing is da bomb, but leave the wild conspiracy theories to the proffesional nutbars mmm-kay?

  • what the heck?!?!

    Dee Dee. You’re dilusional. THOSE WERE HERE WORDS, NOT BLENDERS!!!!

  • Ben

    Deedee, being bi-racial does not mean you can’t be racist. I am bi-racial, and I identify most with my white heritage and culture. Doesn’t mean I’m against my black heritage, but I certainly don’t value it as much in terms of its influence on me.
    What interests me is that bi-racial artists or presidential candidates are lumped into the one culture but not the other. Mariah is not black. She’s part Venuzeulan (sp). Barak is not a black presidential candidate but a bi-racial one. WTF, people. Why does it matter?

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