Nelly: Hip Hop Is the Lowest Voice on the Totem Pole

"Nobody speaks up for us," says St. Louis rapper.

Posted: 10/09/2013 12:31 PM EDT
Filed Under Music News, Nelly, Hip Hop

Nelly

Hip hop gets flack because it's an easy target, Nelly says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Promoting his seventh studio album, M.O., released this past Tuesday (Oct. 8), the St. Louis native addressed the backlash hip hop gets for giving voice to dangerous trends like "Molly" — a potentially fatal crystal form of the ecstasy component MDMA. 

The drug reference popped up in tons of rap verses recently, and when asked if he's more careful about content, the "Get Like Me" rapper revealed a dilemma. "First off, this is an art. This is not being politically correct. This is emotion," he explained. "I think you feel a responsibility to express yourself the best way you know how and try to be truthful about it. A lot of times, people — as in media folk — they want to promote what they want to promote. That's the word that gets out a lot of times. The media can control how they want views to come out and how they want to say it.

"Every hip hop artist I know has a nonprofit organization, but nobody talks about that. First thing they want to do is talk about the bad s--t, not how many families they employ or how many kids they sent to school. They want to [blame] the problems of the world on hip hop because we're the lowest voice on the totem pole."

Regardless of its popularity, the genre doesn't have allies, Nelly says. "Nobody speaks up for us the way that they may speak up for other genres of music. But that's cool because it doesn't stop us. We know what's going on and we continuously do things in our communities a lot of people may not do. I don't think any other genre of music possibly gives back to their neighborhoods as much as hip hop does. I don't see it.

"We're the easiest scapegoat. I'm not gonna front — we don't make it hard for them with a lot of the things we do. But you have to understand that a lot of people in hip hop think socially. We come from places that don't always get a chance to be heard. When we do step on the scene, we kind of jell over topics some people don't want to hear [about]." 

Also in the interview, the self-proclaimed "workaholic" spoke about balancing his role on BET's Real Husbands of Hollywood with all his other commitments. "There are only so many hours in the day, so many days in the month, so many months in the year," he said. "You gotta figure that out as you go along and find out the best way you can do two or three things at once."

Season two of the Real Husbands of Hollywood premieres on BET next Tuesday (Oct. 15) at 10 p.m.   

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(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for BET)  

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