The letter below is written by Chandra Gill, Ph.D., to Jimmie Lovine of Interscope Records. In the letter, Dr. Gill discusses the violence and murders of young men and rappers.
Dr. Gill is questioning why Interscope Records is not taking any responsibility for the men that they sign to work under their label.
2220 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Re: Chicago’s Violence – Chief Keef
To: Jimmie Lovine:
(Founder of Interscope Records)
“The African-American is not a bestial race”
“Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so.” – Ida B. Wells
What are we to say about the recent murder of yet another teenager here in Chicago? What can be said about this alleged rap “beef” amongst those young African-American men here in our communities; communities that inhale hopelessness and helplessness, as it smells of poverty, mis-education and unemployment?
This letter seeks no theoretical framework regarding the varying complexities and debatably learned behaviors of said populace. It’s not a letter of rage with potentially combative elements. This letter is “simple’ and begets this question:
- What foreseen responsibility will your record label have as you continually sign young troubled African-American men to record deals?
Let me be clear (full disclosure): I’m an educator born and raised on Chicago’s south side. I understand the constant dialogue involving parental responsibility, as my parents were present in my life; they raise me and were my first teachers. So I get it. Parents have to be more responsibly involved. However, as I teach, we must as a society soon abandon the either/or position and embrace the both/and philosophy. In that, I insist on individual responsibility and institutional accountability. By example, sure, parents are responsible for what their children wear (ie. 9 year-olds in low-cut shorts with “Sexy Booty” on the back). Yet, we must connect this conversation too to companies that manufacture and produce such items for 9 year-old girls to wear. (Heck, McDonalds is opening up a vegetarian restaurant in India because the market demands it. India’s not known for the consumption of cows and pigs). Corporations can change. Companies can adjust. As people, we must do the same.
Mr. Lovine, I understand business. I’ve debated the, “it’s the American way” mantra often in my quest to be successful, professionally. I know at some point soon we must create a compass of consciousness, as a society of adults. I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know it’s time for us to ask some critical questions. One of which I’ve posed here to you.
When I consider the surge in violence here in my hometown, I can no longer act as if there are no solutions for our children. Just this year, I’ve spoken to over 20,000 students and parents here in Chicago. I believe in our youth. Not naïve or blindly, I too believe in their future, notwithstanding their current realities and conditions.
In reaching beyond a culture of complaining, as if there’s nothing we can do, I suggest the following:
As a concerned Chicago resident and US citizen, I believe Interscope Records should investigate its current policies (and explore more innovative ways) in signing teenaged artists to its label. In step with the NFL and NBA professional leagues, record labels should consider a possible age requirement, entry-level contingencies, etc. for your artist of interest. To place millions of dollars in the hands of troubled teens, thereby creating optimal exposure for youth to glorify America’s biggest failures socially is unacceptable. If high school attendance and graduation is a bottom-line requirement for athletes, why not record labels? Educating our youth to excel beyond one platinum record album is critical to their life as a whole. To think otherwise is to benefit in the moment, monetarily at the expense of our full existence, culturally and globally.
In closing, I side with Ida B. Wells and her words. I write to you with hopes of a timely response. I’m on the side of producing solutions for the sake of our youth in peril. It is my hope that your company will consider the above mentioned and other innovative measures in helping rescue the hearts and minds of our children, our future. I can be reached at 866-496-5667.
Chandra Gill, Ph.D.
CEO-Blackademically Speaking Enterprises
cc: Congressman Danny Davis, U.S. Representative – Illinois’s 7th Congressional District
Congressman Bobby Rush, U.S. Representative – Illinois 1st Congressional District
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin