Indecency & Obscenity: 2 Live Crew on Donahue & Geraldo

As the listeners of Banned in the USA well know by the end of the album–because they are beaten over the head with it–2 Live came into controversy with 1989’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be. They were easy targets to be honest. It wasn’t so much that their music was the first to stridently celebrate hyper sexual misogyny, it was that this was all they sang about. It was rare for them to move off the subject of sex in order to cover something else, something that most other rappers would have included on their album: history of black music, plight of black people and their communities, police brutality, etc. These things came up, at times, but they were almost afterthoughts to their favorite subject: sex.

Banned in the USA does much of the same that their 1989 album did, but with one addition: statements about the media’s portrayal of their music and defending their music against various bans that were being placed on the album. One could say that the controversy actually got them to talk about something else besides having women “face down, ass up.”

So in 1990, they made appearances on Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera to address the charges of indecency in their music. It’s ironic, however, that these debates were held in the forum of these two Jerry Springer precursors, one of which has become a Fox News talking head of late, only adding to his already inept reputation. Nonetheless, these videos provide an interesting insight into the early 90s and the push and pull of cultural communities and the defining of what is indecent and obscene.

Phil Donahue

Geraldo Rivera (w/Kool Moe Dee & 3rd Bass)



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