Friday, November 18, 2005 Updated: November 19, 10:38 AM ET
Nothing shocking about 'Crew'
By Bomani Jones Special to Page 2
Two years ago, a group from the University of Miami recorded a nine-minute song called "7th Floor Crew." Over a simple beat, several men -- including some football players for The U -- took turns rapping about a range of topics including, but not limited to, group sex and each man's phallic superiority.
The record is of poor quality and uncommonly misogynistic. It became impossible for me to count the occurrences of words like "bitch" and "ho." That's not just because the words were used liberally -- and they were, believe me -- but it's hard to listen to almost nine minutes of whack music and pay close attention.
"7th Floor Crew," which was leaked this week onto the Internet, was never intended for public consumption. Miami's athletic director, Paul Dee, tried to control damage by issuing a statement that deemed the recording "unfortunate, inappropriate and demeaning."
Dee's right on all counts, but let's get this straight -- a clique of students and football players got together and wrote a really bad song about a few ridiculously crude sexual acts, all of which are described in simple yet explicit terms?
Players at a school that once could count 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell as a booster may have recorded a raunchy number about sex?
Men's athletics and rap music, two of the most hyper- masculine galaxies in the mainstream universe, combined to record an unapologetically misogynist record?
Perish the thought!
Nothing about this should shock anyone. Fans of hip hop, for better or worse, have grown accustomed to rampant misogyny like that found on this record. The double takes I gave when listening to the recording weren't caused by the song's content. Instead, I was appalled by how bad the song was. Fans of hip hop -- and any other medium of entertainment -- know that less talented performers are likely to use profanity as a crutch, and there's no skill to be found on "7th Floor Crew." Save for some bizarre Floridian colloquialisms, there's nothing on the song that I didn't hear on a Too Short record in the early '90s.
And no one should be shocked by the possibility that football players at a perennial powerhouse possibly have sex with lots of women and care very little about them. Beginning in middle school, one of the perks male athletes expect is access to women of all varieties. Colorado head coach Gary Barnett took heat for how women allegedly were used to recruit players recruited by the Buffaloes, but the incidents there were hardly unique. I've heard dozens of stories about women on recruiting trips and at schools both large and small; none of them can be told on a Web site where Mickey Mouse pays the bills.
So when Dee says "7th Floor Crew" isn't representative of "the values of the University or the Athletic Department," he's not telling the whole truth.
That's not to say that Dee would have the song on his iPod. Instead, it needs to be acknowledged that nearly every football program is steeped in misogyny to some degree. The problem that came to light on "7th Floor Crew" isn't about the individuals involved, nor is it about the type of music they chose to make. The problem that needs repair is cultural. Misogyny is widespread in America and undeniably pandemic in football.
Unquestionably, the heat about "7th Floor Crew" is a special temperature reserved for rap music. As was the case when Allen Iverson was set to release an album in 2000, reports about the content of "7th Floor Crew" used cold, almost clinical terms to describe the negative lyrics without acknowledging how common some of those terms are in everyday parlance. ESPN.com reported that the song contains "derogatory terms for women." And yet I once heard Tony Kornheiser say "anything goes when it comes to the hos" on PTI!
That's not a defense. Not even the most ardent fan of rap music could say a record like this is cool under any circumstance. Those fans may like those songs, but they need be honest with themselves. Songs like these aren't cool and those who listen to them -- a group that includes this writer -- need to consider why we consume such material. But anyone who uses this as an opportunity to batter rap music and the people who make it need to think a little harder.
This story gets juice because it takes place at Miami, once considered the gold standard for malfeasance in college football. But this is The New U, one whose players have stayed out of trouble -- for the most part -- since Butch Davis took over in 1995. Now, the combination of more quietly confident Hurricanes and Larry Coker's folksy Oklahoman demeanor has separated the program from the transgressions of Dennis Erickson's tenure.
And if a song recorded in a dorm is what passes for scandal these days at Miami, Erickson must be somewhere laughing uncontrollably.
So what's the big deal? Misogyny, of course.
But misogyny's a big deal every day.
This is worth ink because of the explosive combination of the specific music, sport and school at the front of the story. Reality is "7th Floor Crew" does little more than remind us of something we'd rather forget -- that we live in a culture of colossal flaws that few do much to change. Music, movies and slang can be vilified, but adjustments need to be made in the culture that drives those media. Those same cultural traits drive how sports are viewed and conditions the athletes that are cheered.
Those are the factors that contributed to "7th Floor Crew," "Me So Horny" and a million other disturbing expressions. Those are just symptoms of the disease, though. Time would be better served working on a cure, not looking for a quick treatment.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at email@example.com.