Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Banned in the U.S.A." by 2 Live Crew

Twenty-five years ago today, members of the rap group 2 Live Crew were arrested and charged with obscenity after a 21-and-over concert at a club in Hollywood, Florida.  I remember this vividly because it was all over the news.  

In what I couldn't believe as a 12-year-old and still can't believe now, the Broward County sheriff was able to obtain a ruling from a state court judge that probable cause existed for obscenity charges against the members of 2 Live Crew for simply playing their own music because it had sexually explicit content.  A federal judge even ruled against 2 Live Crew, holding that their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene and that it was illegal for record stores to sell it.

Eventually, the group was acquitted of the criminal charges, and the federal ruling was reversed on appeal, but it is still baffling that blatant censorship like that was allowed in the first place.  Thankfully, this is America, and the right decision was eventually reached.  As a nice side note, 2 Live Crew's album sales soared because of the controversy, and As Nasty As They Wanna Be ended up selling over 2 million copies.

With their next album, the group triumphantly made note of their trials and tribulations, calling the album Banned in the U.S.A.  Taking the riff (with permission) from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," 2 Live Crew's title track to the album was a giant FU to everyone who attempted to censor them.  It's actually a pretty patriotic song, which I'm guessing was lost on the right-wingers in America's wang who somehow thought that their antiquated values and personal tastes in music trumped the First Amendment.

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