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The Crew: Courage or Crime?; Reactions From Both Sides of the Raging Rap Wars
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Washington, D.C.
Author: Harrington, Richard
Date: Aug 1, 1990
Start Page: d.07
Section: STYLE

On the Beat solicited reaction to 2 Live Crew's new "Banned in the U.S.A." album from several parties connected to the ongoing controversy surrounding the group. Jack Thompson is the Florida attorney who first alerted the Broward Country Sheriff's Office and Gov. Bob Martinez about possible obscenity violations in the group's "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" album, which set off a chain of trials and arrests that continues today. Carlton Long, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, was an expert witness for 2 Live Crew in its obscenity cases in Florida and Alabama. Robert Perry, an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School, was the principal consulting attorney in the Alabama case. In their own words:

The new album, released last week, was promised to be "even worse-more obscene" than the last one. [Luke] delivered. Oh, there's "social commentary" on the album, and the rappers' ACLU professor/lawyer will be paid to say this saves it from being ruled obscene. But the "social commentary" on this album is akin to a sociopath's discharging his AK-47 into a crowded schoolyard, with the machine gun bursts interrupted by PeeWee Herman's views on politics.

Politically speaking, the album is what theorists would call a "preemptive strike." The group jokes, for instance, about "350 men" who file suit against 2 Live Crew claiming to be "Martinez" in the song "{Expletive} Martinez." Most people who have followed the political saga of 2 Live Crew, and who are conversant with the names of elected officials, probably have a good idea of who "Martinez" is. The album also invites those who have been obsessed with the ridiculous undertaking of counting up the swear words in the group's albums to try and keep up as the lead rapper races to repeat one expletive. Rappers then laugh, indignantly inviting such critics to go back and count up those. Don't they know nothin' about repetition and call-and-response?

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