The Music Industry’s Reaction to the #MeToo Movement

Controversial artists are gaining even more traction despite the recent social changes

Zack Hage , LETH Staff Writer

The music industry has come under fire lately for the success of widely controversial artists in the wake of #MeToo and other social movements, with two of Billboard’s top 10 artists involved in cases of domestic violence.

The most commercially successful artists with extensively criticized legal pasts include 18-year-old Georgia rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again, trap artist Famous Dex (known for his single “Pick it Up” with one of this decade’s most popular rappers, A$AP Rocky), scream rapper 6ix9ine, rapper and singer XXXtentacion, and R&B singer Chris Brown.

There are also a number of controversial artists who are up-and-coming, including Ski Mask the Slump God, Yung Bans, Pouya, Fat Nick, and Tay K. These artists have cases or allegations detailing sexual assault, violence, burglary, and or even pedophilia, drawing widespread denouncement and even exclusion by some media companies. The existence of controversial artists in and of itself is not a new phenomenon, although some find it strange to see this controversy become more common as those in other entertainment industries with similar pasts have had to resign in recent months.

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“Ski Mask the Slump God has a rape allegation but he hasn’t been blacklisted in the same way other artists have; I would say there’s definitely some hypocrisy” ”

— Dylan Fuhs

However, there have been some increases in corporate pushback while fans debate about separating art and artistry. Atlantic Records is investigating underground hip-hop podcast host Adam Grandmaison (known as Adam22)  for sexual assault allegations as they accepted a new label offer with him. Employees also reportedly pushed against XXXtentacion’s $6 million Capitol deal, and his artist collaborations have even been canceled, as rapper Lil Yachty revealed in a Genius interview.

“The thing with him is so unfortunate because anytime I want to do anything with him (rapper 6ix9ine), and I tell them who it is they’ll say no. It’s just different corporate people that are stopping this,” Yachty added.

Quotes like this reveal the music industry is taking a more “wait and see” approach to controversial artists, as they observe the public’s reactions to charges levied against their artists. The aforementioned 6ix9ine has also been removed from festival and concert lineups due to a proved pedophilia case 2 years prior, and A$AP Bari (member of rap group A$AP Mob) lost a multi-million dollar Nike deal after a video leaked of him sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel. The media is playing a quite similar path, usually not judging artists with allegations harshly until very detailed info is released legally or leaked.

One example is when rising rapper Yung Bans, whose murder and burglary charges were referred to as “unfortunate” by Complex.

For context, there is much less information on Yung Bans’ case than on XXXTentacion’s. Some students see inconsistencies in the way in which these artists are being represented.

“Ski Mask the Slump God has a rape allegation but he hasn’t been blacklisted in the same way other artists have, I would say there’s definitely some hypocrisy,” senior Dylan Fuhs said.

Other students viewed the media’s representation similarly, as XXXTentacion fan Lionel Garcia had this to say about the difference in representation between Yung Bans and XXXTentacion.

“I understand that there are going to be some people that are more bias[ed], but they are both convicted criminals so they should be treated the same,” Garcia commented.

As some artists attempts to change their image through charity events and good deeds, some fans still stand by their favorite artists. Lionel Garcia believed a similar position taken by media and record companies.

“I would personally need a video or a court decision to fully prove allegations,” Garcia said.

Although an artist’s past can be a complex issue, recent social changes have made rap more interesting for fans, reporters, and record companies. Time will only tell if fans choose to change their ways, or continue to stick by the music they listen to, no matter how controversial.

Senior Mason Moss argued: “I always separate the two because the art is more important than the artist. While XXXtentacion is in the spotlight for controversy now, there are many before him, like DMX and R. Kelly who have the same issues.  Listen to music if you like it and if you are too sensitive to the artists past, then remember that everyone has one.”