Ashley Judd attacks hip-hop; hip-hop fights back


Image Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/; Marco Sagliocco/PR Photos

Ashley Judd’s recently-released memoir, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, was bound to upset certain people (mostly those who share her last name).

But she has a new enemy in Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, the drummer and mastermind behind the Roots (who you either know as the collective who completely changed hip-hop with 1999’s Things Fall Apart or as the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon).

In a passage of her book specifically focusing YouthAIDS’ association with Diddy and Snoop Dogg, Judd wrote:

“YouthAIDS created hip public service announcements for TV and radio using popular local and international celebrities and athletes and was participating in the MTV World AIDS Day ‘Staying Alive’ concerts. Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message … um, who? Those names were a red flag. As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music—with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’—is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”

In response, ?uestlove tweeted on his official page, which has some 1.5 million followers, “hmmm. at least i got my answer as to why ash judd didn’t give us so much as a nod on her last visit. im a criminal.”

“EVERY genre of music has elements of violence,” he noted in a subsequent tweet. “It speaks MORE volumes that in rap only a certain side gets promoted.”

We have to side with ?uest on this one, as Judd’s dismissal of most rap because of “rape culture” is at best pedantic and at worst, insulting to artists who have always struggled with the image of hip-hop and engage in the conversation over its content (including the Roots themselves).

Mainstream rap has a history of objectifying women, but so does country music. Both genres feature fits of violence as well. To write off everything simply because of a few admittedly bad apples is the stuff that lazy publicity stunts (and wacky-actress book sales) are made of.

UPDATE: Judd has responded, saying in part, “I have looked closely at the feedback I have received about those two paragraphs, and absolutely see your points, and I fully capitulate to your rightness, and again humbly offer my heartfelt amends for not having been able to see the fault in my writing, and not having anticipated it would be painful for so many. Crucial words are missing that could have made a giant difference … I am also aware that, no matter what I do, some will call me disingenuous and impute bad motives to me.” To read the full statement, click here.

More on
On the Scene: Nicki Minaj and the Roots play Times Square and geek out hard
Book Review: All That Is Bitter and Sweet

Comments (157 total) Add your comment
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  • Coole

    What the hell happened to her face? Is she swollen? Did she age 25 years in the last ten?

    • Eshia

      That has to be one of the worst possible pics to use of her… I Love that they chose that one! HAHA

      • Reena

        Unfourtunently that is what she looks like now…which is a shame cause she USE to be so beautiful but now has to put ass cheeks in her face cheeks either way she is making herself look more and more like a stuck up diva then doing any good…oh and going through the comments I totally agree with @steve below. :-)

      • Your Queen

        The Deeebag has a question mark in his name. He’s a moron, not a credible source. EW is pathetic.

    • Caryn

      my guess is that she isn’t botoxed to hell

      • DivaSoulSista

        In fact, she’s the victim of several bad plastic surgeries.

    • alex

      oh god her face! what is happening?!?!

    • You Know She’s Right!

      You know exactly what she meant and you know she’s right. Go listen to top 40’s main stream rap or hip-hop. She isn’t talking about Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean…she’s calling you out to look right now at the top 40 Rap/Hip-Hop artists. Tell me do you listen to that a fell like “Wow women are respected here…?”

      • And for those that can’t read!

        You know exactly what she meant and you know she’s right. Go listen to top 40′s main stream rap or hip-hop. She isn’t talking about Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean…she’s calling you out to look right now at the top 40 Rap/Hip-Hop artists. Tell me do you listen to that and feel like “Wow women are respected here…?”

      • Aaron

        What frustrating to me is that for most people, including Ashley Judd, the hip-hop universe consists of maybe 12-15 acts. And the fact that she’s Combs and Snoop as accurate representatives of what hip-hop is truly depresses me, as both of those guys have always more interest and talent in crafting personalities than actually creating art. They’re like the Gabor sisters of hip-hop. They represent one corner of hip-hop. Listening to them will give you no sense of the music created by the Roots, or Talib Kweli, or Mos Def, or Common, or Little Brother or Jean Grae, or even more “main stream” rap acts like Lupe Fiasco or the Black-Eyed Peas. And yes, BEP is hip-hop. At least they were before they became cyborgs pr whatever they are now. Hip-hop’s problem isn’t that its all bad. Thats never been the case. The problem is, most people aren’t paying attention to the good stuff.

      • Blame Leno!

        Great response Aaron. No need to add you said it all. Rap is an art form and like all art forms some will pervert it for their own finacial game and some will use it to truly express themselves. It’s true in all musical genres. Sadly people seem focused on the less desirable representatives of rap.

      • chirs

        No she’s wrong. Her comment defines the majority of hip hop artist that are mainstream, but it doesn’t represent hip hop as a whole. Hip hop is mainly underground. Like I said before, the music we hear in the top 40 is the music demanded by mainstream America. The majority of people that buy hip hop today are suburban white males; they have a demand for what we hear in the top 40.
        Rap artist that discuss topics like Africa, racism, education and any positive concepts are ignored by the mainstream no matter how good it sounds.

    • Nick

      Well there has always been a certain level of misogyny woman-hating lyrics in hip hop music. It’s the fact that it sounds so realistic verses a funny country song or cee lo green song.. One is obviously a joke, and the other sounds serious/threatening

      • dirk

        and some kids unfortunately have a very hard time telling the difference between fantasy and reality

    • Madmex2k

      I am reading alot of “them”, “they”…isn’t that the sama as calling “them”,”you people, or “your kind”? I really see a lot of racial comments here. Its not necessary. I don’t think anyone should have to defend what others choose to do with their lives, Its sad enough to see some misguided people being judged and then set up as as the definitive representative of a genre of music. Most people emulate what they see, and its those misguided few who are put on a pedestal by others who see all that glamour and think its real life. Positive role models don’t make money for the recently floundering record companies.

    • Obama

      Blacks are the sole reason this country is sinking fast into depravity, violence, poverty, depression, child murder, joblessness, homelessness, national debt, and Ashley is calling it right on this one.

      • unknown

        wow. you are so ignorant.

  • megan

    Judd has a spectacularly sterling reputation as a self-enamored, neurotically condescending, pretentious diva. And she has earned that rep. And when you are a modestly attractive, modestly talented actress, there’s a ton of other starlets that are not self-enamored, neurotically condescending, pretentious divas, who Hollywood can use. Her career is non-existent for a reason. Same thing happened to Winona Ryder.

    • LOL

      Jason Patric can’t stand her.

    • deedeedragons

      At least Ryder basically looks the same – just older.

  • PN

    That’s her opinion, but a lot of hip-hop artists are not like that. There are several artists like Will Smith who refuse to use profanity and misogyny in their songs. They keep it street and clean at the same time. I think that she collided with Snoop and P Diddy and she thought that all rap artists sound like that. I think that some celebrities like Judd are comfortable with aligning with rap artists and will show their outrage in interviews or their memoir books.

    • True…

      And how successful and mainstream and popular has Will Smith as a musician really been? He had a few hits back in the day, but you can’t tell me that that wasn’t a result of his TV/movie career and personal fame rather than the intrinsic qualities of the songs themselves. I don’t like Judd’s generalization because I feel like she needed a disclaimer in there to point out that a lot of lesser-known (to the general public) hip-hop handles more creative/less offensive subject matter…but it does say something that for people with only a passing familiarity with the genre, or those who even listen to hip hop casually on the radio on Top 40 stations, it frequently does seem that hip hop is heavily focused on women as sexual objects, the glorification of guns/drugs/general violence, and corporate shilling and product placement. It’s a problem of awareness – if it’s not mainstream, top 40 kind of music, people aren’t going to know about it and will make their judgments accordingly. I miss having mainstream hip hop with a real message rather than the increasingly outrageous attempts at posturing that keep getting radio play because of the personalities driving them.

      • Ana170

        DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were huge back in the day. They were also the first hip hop artists to win a grammy. Will Smith’s music career has been overshadowed by his acting career but music success came first.

      • SaraJeanQueen

        I agree with “True..” No way is Will Smith respected amongst current rap fans. They listen to Eminem and Lil’ Wayne, who are very misogynistic toward ALL women in their lyrics, not just one who burned them. It does get old.

      • Le HIROSHI

        @”True. . .”: I also agree with you. You’ve made some good points.

      • Odeisel

        That’s an issue she should take up with labels and the business, not rappers. If all the popular rap is negative that means either the people support it or the industry itself pushes it. But that’s separate from the creators.

        Will Smith sold records before the television shop. Kid N Play had 4 movies and a cartoon. CBS had the threaten MTV to get black Michael Jackson on, but a decade later they were falling over themselves to put The Chronic everywhere. Ashley Judd couldn’t name 5 rap groups. She doesn’t have the authority or the knowledge to challenge that culture. All she can do is be mad that radio only plays one side of the music.

        Snoop Dogg is a married father who runs football camps to keep kids off the streets. Ashley Judd is a recovering drug addict from a dysfunctional family. If you looked at their two resume’s on paper, who would you rather have around your kids?

        See how bad she can look when I leave out her humanitarian work? She knows what she meant.

      • stickittotheman

        True – Judd does not have the credentials or the knowledge to make an informed comment on hip hop. So, those offended by her comments should consider the source and move on.

    • Other Mel

      In what universe is Will Smith “street”?

      • KSH

        LOL! Sesame Street

      • Tom

        The one with all the zombies on it.

    • autie

      I think we’re forgetting that she put hip hop on blast here. It started out as a movement embracing the African American movement and a fight for bad politics. I loove hip hop, but do not enjoy the overly sexed up lyrics of some. People like Common, Talib Kweli, The Roots and Cross Movement (who are Christian rappers,) keep my ipod full and are uplifting as well. I highly doubt Ms Judd has bothered to seek out other hip hop besides what’s playing when she turns on her top 40 radio.

    • Antonio Merrick

      She has a point; however, she should not have made a reference to rape. Nevertheless, it is widely known that at the core of our hip hop music for the past decades for sure has been womanizing, and some elements being rewarded by your peers for being a pimp or a player. I know for sure I use to be called a cake daddy for treating the girls I dated growing up with respect. Not all black men in hip hop and all black men in life treat women with disrespect. But for the past few decades, that has been the norm on the streets and on the radio. We need to stop using Will Smith or Common as our rebuttal to ignore the truth. Yes we do have positive hip hop artist like that, however, I cannot tell you the last time I heard one of their songs on an urban hip hop radio station. Trust me; their songs are not jumping in the clubs here in DC. Until we stand together and unified in this issue. We will continue to lay 16 year high school students to rest like we are currently doing now in DC.

    • Lance

      I like Will Smith. He raps happy.

      • Britt

        Lance, FTW!! Love the reference to Undercover Brother :)

  • Loch Ness

    Rap fears Judd.

  • Henry Plantagenet

    I’m with Judd. I tried for 20 years to like anything at all about rap, and it’s the living embodiment of everything that’s wrong with America, including the black community.

    It is funny, though, that country stars do get a free pass with all drinking, wife beating, cheating, car-keying etc. Actually I think country is as artistically empty as rap is, for the same reason: they both come from sick subcultures.

    • Frankie

      At least you’re an equal opportunity bigot.

      • The Truth

        Its interesting instead of using logic and intelligence to counter you go right to calling someone a bigot. Since a bigot is by definition someone who is intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices couldn’t we argue since your first and only argument against the fore mentioned statement is name calling you yourself are a bigot? Logic wins every time! Its funny how most people who call others bigots, racists, sexists, etc are themselves that what they call others.

      • Jay

        @The Truth: You sir, are aptly named. You speak the truth.

        Frankie from above is obviously a bigot for the reasons you state. He is also stupid and ignorant because he does not know it, and he uses the word without even knowing its meaning, apparently.

    • Ana170

      I don’t like rap either but that’s no reason to side with Ashley Judd. As stated in the article that are many rap artists who don’t fall under the label that Ashley Judd and others assigned to them. You don’t have to like the music to be fair.

    • Ash

      I agree with you. I feel like a lot of popular music these days is all about abusing women, doing drugs/drinking, and talking about the artists life of entitlement. I’m sure every genre of music has artists that have a good message but the popular stuff these days tends to be garbage.

    • Luddite

      I disagree. There is a lot of rap that I find offensive, but there’s a lot of rock, pop, and country that I find to be just as bad, if not worse. And a lot of rap that is incredibly intelligent, articulate, socially conscious, etc. Somehow, it seems like the offensive stuff gets a lot more play, but it doesn’t require that much effort (and certainly not 20 years) to find the good stuff.
      I’d also add that I think a lot of people confuse not liking the aesthetic of rap with rap being inherently indicative of “everything that’s wrong with America.” I’m not accusing anyone in particular of this, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.

      • True Blue

        Completely agree with you. People love to hate rap more so than most other genres, and when you point out to some of them that other genres of popular music have the same flaws that hip-hop has, they’ll argue with you and tell you “it’s not the same thing”. How is it not the same? Live instruments and singing doesn’t make a misogynist song any less so.

    • True Blue

      Really? You’ve been listening to hip-hop for 20 years, and you’ve yet to come across a single song that is positive? I have a very hard time believing you on that, but I’ll suggest you a few songs that should change your mind:

      Slick Rick- Hey Young World

      Public Enemy- Fight The Power

      Tupac- Changes

      Queen Latifah- U.N.I.T.Y

      Lauryn Hill- That Thing

      Knock yourself out, Henry.

    • yesyousuck

      I would love to know which artists that you listened to over a 20 year period that led you to disliking an entire genre of music.

  • Steve

    So I’m wondering now if country music promotes: teen marriage (Naomi Judd was 17), teen pregnancy (Wynonna was born when Naomi was 18), identity fraud (Naomi and Wynnona are stage names), being easy(Wynonna’s dad was not her biological father; he married Naomi when Naomi was already pregnant), divorce, drunk driving, sexual assault (look up Wynonna’s second husband), gratuitious nudity (Ashley’s mostly notable for getting naked frequently), and well, being stupid.

    • Kelly

      Isn’t the term Teen Pregnancy normally used for women who aren’t married? If she was married then it doesn’t matter what age she was

      • E.L.

        ^ Kelly: 1) She was pregnant before she married. 2.) She was a teenager. So yes, the term Teen Pregnancy applies to her.

  • ks

    wow how ignorant can you be?

    • Jay

      I dont know, ks… How ignorant ARE you?
      If you think anything she stated is untrue YOU are certainly a special kind of ignorant

      • Kevin

        Oh Jay, you so silly

  • tori

    she’s a fool

  • swthompson

    ashley is right. case closed. next?

    • remo williams

      eff’re probably some teabagger who sleeps next to their cousin every night.moron.

  • Jay-Z

    How DARE this b*tch call my music misogynistic!

    • halloraj


    • +1

      I hate that I laughed at this!

    • Jesse

      Funny! Score the basket and the foul…

  • Kimberly

    Ashley Judd is right about rap and hip-hop music. I am a Black woman and I am sick of how we are portrayed in rap and hip-hop videos. Mysogyny is rampant in the Black community. Parents, teachers, and the Black leadership need to speak up and put an end to the objectification and the demeaning images of women. The name-calling and butt-shaking needs to stop.

    • SaraJeanQueen

      Not only that, but the way they treat their women in real life – they are always in the background, never acknowledged, even if they have kids and a family. Remember when Snoop Dogg walked a red carpet with women dressed as dogs on leashes leading him? Gross.

    • KSH

      I think it’s more sad that women participate in the videos but I rahter tham do that than rob a bank or sells drugs. *upside*

    • MT

      She’s entitled to have her opinions about rap but associating to rape the names of two men who are now fathers and who now sing cheesy songs like “California Gurls” is utterly tactless. I’m surprised she didn’t mention Ice Cube who was an hardcore rapper and is currently working with Disney.
      Clearly she doesn’t know so much about rap but pretends to. I used to like her as an actress but she’s taking a major tumble from my Ilike-list with this.

    • Odeisel

      You can put an end to it with your wallet. Stop dancing to music you don’t like stop buying music that objectifies you. I don’t know any guys with a Nelly album or any of that booty shaking music.

  • Scott

    I think some are missing the fact that she said “MOST” not “ALL” rap music. Frankly if you listen to a rap station for a bit most of the songs refer to women as either a “b” or a “ho” Also the fact that VERY few women have been able to emerge as successful solo artists (compared to the men) also speaks volumes. Like it or not, you can’t say that overall rap music is overly accpeting or appreciate of women. Yes there are other genres where this is true as well…but it doesn’t make it untrue about rap music

  • Jay

    Her inclusion of the word “most” makes her statement 100% accurate.

    If she had said “ALL” hip-hop, then you guys would have an argument.

    But to say “MOST” hip-hop has abusive lyrics and objectifies women is totally, absolutely TRUE!!

    And this is coming from someone who listens to hip-hop. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves

    • Caryn

      agree Jay.

    • True Blue

      MOST of mainstream hip-hop. But mainstream hip-hop isn’t even representative of the majority of hip-hop out there, it just represents a tiny percentage of it. Unfortunately, that tiny percentage is the one that gets the most attention.

      • Cajo

        If you’re not looking for other artists, then unfortunately mainstream is all you got.

    • Odeisel

      It’s impossible for you to assert that most rap is anything because you don’t have access to most rap music. You listening to radio which plays 8 songs a day and there are literally thousands of rappers from dozens of countries and countless cities.

      You cannot assert that most rap is anything. You can say most rap that is pushed by media is a certain way, but the people in media that push it are not representative of the people that listen to or create rap music.

    • Kevin

      Jay, you’re an idiot. You clearly don’t listen to enough hip hop if you think most of the music is like that.

    • B

      Nothing I like better than turning on my rape culture music and hating women. Winona is an example of these self-righteous, pious, liberal, yet very ignorant lefties who think they are more open minded than conservatives, yet are just as racist as anyone with a white hood.

      • Tom

        Nothing irritates people more than some white person who thinks they relate with rap music.

  • JJ

    I’m disaapointed in Judd’s overly apologetic response. I’m also disaapointed in her generalization of rap music.
    She’s not completely wrong though because the has long been a misogynistic under tone from many rappers/music and has been the topic of debate/discussion for well over a decade.
    I would say that Thompson’s response is lacking substantiation to be fully considered as overall opposing debate and it’s naive to think it’s only a lack of promotion. MAYBE that’s part of it but misogyny is another part so rather than divert the topic just speak to it. Cite artists/songs that will remind Judd that the culture has different parts to it but don’t be dismissive of a very important point.

  • Keena

    I wish that middle america,sum celebrites would stop blaming hip hop for all there problems they need 2 look at there selfs.u want 2 blame us but u want 2 b us. Hit me at @kbishop73 on twitter

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