To the editor,

Like all good “ggggangstas,” Michael Eric Dyson has apparently found a con for himself in attempting scholarly legitimization of rap. What a fine way for him to utilize his impressive academic credentials. African-American communities nationwide are already reeling from the devastating effects of drugs, violence, and premarital sex (the three topics, along with easy money, most glorified in rap lyrics) on their young. But no, Dr. Dyson has insight into the esoteric meaning of these lyrics and has been able to divine socially redeeming value in them which mere mortals cannot understand.

I am in total agreement with Michael Reese’s letter to the Reader (3/23/01) in response to its cover story on Dyson. Reese observed: “Modern-day rap/hip-hop has sold out and gone into minstrelizing itself in order to pander to the lowest common denominator of human behavior.” My sentiments precisely. Even my teenaged nieces and nephews who do listen to rap readily acknowledge that most of it is vulgar, demeaning to women, and ignorant. As has been true for every generation, young people still like whatever adults deem obscene, offensive, or otherwise socially unacceptable. Remember the Stones singing “Let’s Spend the Night Together” 30-plus years ago and the furor it created? The difference is that unlike the esteemed Dr. Dyson, many of our children today, including Dyson’s own son, are smart enough to know that when it comes to rap, “It’s all about glitz and glamour”…and not about anything substantive.

Ken Calvin

Hyde Park