BET’s ban of the video for Rick Ross’ song “Hold Me Back” begs the question: In the grand scheme

of rap video iconography, how controversial is it?

Here is the short answer: It isn’t.

“Hold Me Back” does not stray far at all from the ‘hood narratives that have permeated rap videos for a

while now.

The Taj-directed black-and-white visuals, which are set in New Orleans’ Calliope Housing projects, are

laden with depictions of abject poverty, pernicious police persecution, community members as referents

of the video’s street “authenticity,” and talk of drug dealing and gangsterism for survival.

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Although “Hold Me Back” is certainly not unlike anything we have seen before, BET’s reasoning for

banning the video may likely be premised in larger social and political concerns with the ways that African

American lives are depicted in mainstream entertainment.

BET has a track record of banning videos that it finds transgresses the network’s norms of respectability.

The videos they have banned run the gamut from the too-sexy to the too-political.

The channel banned the video for Ciara’s 2010 hit “Ride” because of its sexually charged content.

Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” was recently denied airplay for similar reasons.

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The Game and Lil Wayne’s video “Red Nation” was rejected for its “aggressive content.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the network banned the video “Lovin It” from the rap group

Little Brother in 2005; allegedly for pushing the envelope with its critiques of the mainstream

hip-hop music industry.

More recently, BET was forced to rescind its ban on Killer Mike’s highly political video “Burn”

because of the outrage his fans expressed.

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Despite the role BET has played in deeming some rap music videos inappropriate for television,

the network has not been saved from criticism.

Some critics censure the channel for being “Black Exploitation Television“ by promoting

monolithic depictions of African Americans under its totalizing moniker “Black Entertainment


BET’s ban of the video is a testament to the complex task it has undertaken as being a channel

that ostensibly represents the entertainment desires of black people in general.

The fact that BET is concerned with the images in “Hold Me Back” is likely grounded in burdens

of representation that often encumber how African Americans are portrayed in media and


But in recent times, many mainstream rap video images have not been sticking strictly to the

‘hood formula. Artists such as Odd Future and Kanye West have released all kinds of video

content that implements more long-form, cinematic and quirky elements, innovating what is

popularly conceived as a commercially viable rap video.

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Besides, the television is not where many people are watching music videos now.

Fans are customizing their music video experience with the diverse array of content that the

World Wide Web offers.

As was the case with Killer Mike’s “Burn” video, this ban of “Hold Me Back” may do more to

generate buzz (and increase viewership) than to stop fans from watching it.



via: globalgrind