Author’s note: This post contains references to rap lyrics that describe sexual behavior in explicit detail and may be offensive to some readers. They have been edited as much as possible, but are presented to prove a specific point to the contrary.
On Saturday afternoon, for the fourth year in row, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) and 97.9 KBXX will celebrate a near month-long campaign of HIV awareness with a rap concert.
Approximately 15,000 teens and young adults will get to go to the exclusive show, headlined by acts such as Plies, Paul Wall, Bun B, and Lloyd Banks, as a treat for taking part in the Fourth Annual Hip Hop for HIV Awareness Intervention, a four-day HIV and syphilis screening event.
It’s undoubtedly the right cause with a wrong reward.
Hip Hop 4 HIV’s Mixed Messages
Unfortunately, the rappers chosen to perform on Saturday will often present a message that is in direct opposition to this noble pursuit of improved community health. Many of their songs seem to celebrate and encourage the dangerous sexual and social behavior that increases the risks of contracting this deadly disease. The educational information 97.9 has published on its own website says as much.
From KBXX’s website:
How is HIV transmitted?Hip Hop 4 HIV main eventer Plies has crafted a public image that’s half goon / half nymphomaniac. It will be interesting to see if he’ll perform his song “Becky” (a slang term to describe oral sex) on Saturday.
HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. The virus must be present; meaning an individual must be infected with HIV in order to infect others.
HIV can enter the body through a vein (e.g., injection drug use), the lining of the anus or rectum, the lining of the vagina and/or cervix, the opening to the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
Can I get HIV from unprotected oral sex?
Yes, there are documented cases of HIV infection from oral sex with both men and women. Body fluids exchanged through sexual activity can enter cuts in the mouth and get into the bloodstream. Also, certain cells in the mucus lining of the mouth may carry HIV into the lymph nodes or bloodstream. Reduce the risk of HIV during oral sex by using a latex or polyurethane barrier such as a condom or dental dam.
Isn’t abstinence the only way to prevent HIV?
Abstaining from sexual activity or certain sexual behaviors can certainly eliminate risk. So can eliminating alcohol or other drug use that may impair judgment when in sexual situations. However, abstinence also has its own “failure rates.” It is equally important for people to know how to reduce risk as it is for them to know how to eliminate it.
Plies – “Becky”
I’m on this liquor / oh so heavy / ‘Fo we f—k. can you neck me? / A lil’ h—d and I am ready / I want yo mouth, give me that BeckyOr what about Houston-native Paul Wall? Will he perform his new hit song “I’m On Patron” that talks about him being “so gone” that he needs a ride home or “I’m a Playa” with its implications of casual sex?
Paul Wall – ‘I’m a Playa”
Wave the trunk and chunk the deuce / keep it movin’ / I’m on the prowl / I’m on the hunt for some one-night love / best believe that’s it’s goin’ downSurely “7 shots to the dome” can’t help his judgment.
What about South Texas favorite Bun B? Can we expect to hear his pimp anthem that solicits johns for anal sex encounters with his “b---h?”
Bun B – “Who Needs a B---h?”
If anybody need a b---h then I got one / put her in the drop and you can let her ride shot gun / she can suck your d--k while you mash on the gas / so you can take her to the crib and put some d--k in her a-- / Who need a..And the teens and young adults in the audience can expect to hear Lloyd Bank’s smash “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” that brags about his threesomes, right?
If anybody need a b---h just holla / I got top notch p---y for your bottom white dolla' / we poppin our collars and dustin’ these gators off / not to mention we brushin’ these haters off / Now tell me who need a..
Lloyd Banks – “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley”
I got a girl named Kima / and Kima like Christina / baby three don’t make a crowd, it make a sex scene meaner / I just wanna get between her / turn it over scream her / then it’s one, two, I’m through, see ya / I scoop her in my Beamer, Benz or Bentley…It’s extremely rare to ever hear a mainstream rap song that mentions, much less encourages, the use of condoms, dental dams, or abstention from drug use and casual sex that can help curb the spread of HIV. It’s doubtful that will change at Saturday’s concert.
Again, the cause of raising awareness and mobilizing listeners to actively get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is a righteous cause. It’s the reward that’s offered as a motivation that sends a completely mixed message.
It would be like Channel 2 KPRC encouraging obesity education and diabetes testing to its viewers by promising a trip to an all-you-can eat dessert buffet sponsored by Hostess as a reciprocal prize. How does that make any sense at all?
Hip Hop 4 HIV Needs a New Voice
Using hip hop to reach young people and 97.9’s target audience is a no-brainer. But they should at least offer performers with a catalog of songs that reinforce their message, not fly in its face.
Houston has a large community of positive hip hop artists that could easily fit this bill. Two that immediately come to mind are J. Xavier and the Still Trill Christians.
They are not unknown to audiences consumed with mainstream media either. J. Xavier has had video play on BET and earned screen time in MTV’s “Super Sweet 16” movie. And earlier this year the Still Trill Christians were interviewed and asked to perform on BET’s 106 & Park video countdown show.
Contrast STC's "No Sex" lyrics to those listed above.
Still Trill Christians - "No Sex"
We can hit the mall and go shopping while we in it / and you be lookin' good girl, I must admit it / but I don't need no sex, sex, sex, sex, sex / cuz you're worth more than that, that, that, that, thatAnd if 97.9 needs even more names to fill out the Hip Hop 4 HIV roster then perhaps they can pull from the list of artists they play on Praise 92.1 – the Box’s sister gospel station that is also owned by their Radio One parent company. Praise 92.1 even has its own Christian hip hop shows and on-air personalities that would certainly be willing to help and provide musical content that better supports the goal of this event.
Please don't get me wrong, lil mama, you're so fly / but I listen to my Daddy / and that's the reason why / that I don't need no sex, sex, sex, sex, sex / cuz I'm worth more than that, that, that, that, that
Hip Hop 4 HIV is a worthwhile effort. But at this point, it’s diminishing its powerful message in favor of pop appeal.
Houston’s Still Trill Christians performing “No Sex” on BET’s 106 & Park