Is there anything that Snoop Doggy Dogg touches that doesn’t turn controversial?
You’d think the Long Beach rapper had gone through enough furor to last a lifetime: his arrest in September on the charge of being an accomplice to murder, and the recent criticism that his new “Doggystyle” album--which has sold more than 1.2 million copies in two weeks--glorifies the “gangsta” life.
But, yes, it looks as if he’s stumbled into the other top rap controversy zone.
Representatives of two prominent women’s organizations are furious about the artwork accompanying the album. They’re addressing much of their anger at Snoop’s record company, Death Row, as well as its distributors, Interscope and Atlantic, and their parent company, Time Warner.
The booklet that accompanies the album features an eight-panel cartoon of half-human, half-dog characters by Long Beach artist Darryl (Joe Cool) Daniel. In the story, several males demand that a scantily clad female work as a prostitute in order to get them marijuana, and then kick her out on the street when the pot she brings them isn’t good enough.
Suge Knight, the CEO of Death Row Records and executive producer of the album, defends the work. “It was an opportunity to give an African American artist some work, and everybody here approved it,” he said. “It’s the artist’s outlook of the city around him. It’s in no way negative toward females or anyone.”
Delores Tucker, founder and chair of the Washington-based Political Congress of Black Women, doesn’t accept the defense, and spoke about a possible boycott.
“It’s sickening to see that any African American, male or female, would hold the human dignity of African American women in the form that is presented (in the cartoon),” she told Pop Eye when shown the artwork.
“We are now looking to the distributors, financiers and producers of (the album). We are going to let them know in no uncertain terms that we are not going to let this happen. We are going to use the powers we have to withhold our dollars where our dignity is not respected.”
Diane Welsh, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, calls the artwork “beastializing of women” and urges that pressure be put on the record companies and distributors to change the package.
The uproar is reminiscent of such past furors as one over a mid-'70s ad for the Rolling Stones’ “Black and Blue” album that featured a tied-up, bruised woman, and a more recent one concerning a robot raping a woman in a Robert Williams painting used on the cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction.” Geffen Records ultimately reissued the GNR album with different art.
Representatives of Interscope and Atlantic Records would not comment, but Knight says that he doesn’t believe changing the artwork is the answer.
“If these women’s groups really want to change things, they can’t change it through the guys,” he said. “It starts with many females in the neighborhoods. . . . That’s the way they dress, that’s the way they carry themselves. . . . They need to go back to the community and tell the women to change their dress code and their ways. It don’t start from the guys.”
Responds Welsh: “That’s b.s. If he’s going to use that argument . . . then he can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman. Therefore they have no business depicting women in anything they do.”