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July 27, 2010

Wale, Artscape and the curse words

wale performs at the 2009 virgin mobile freefestI'm late to the dance on this issue, but that's only because I can't believe it's gone on like this. 

During Washington rapper Wale's performance at Artscape, the rapper -- and possibly members of his entourage -- dropped some curse words, according to the local news site Investigative Voice.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, who had told Wale this was a family-oriented show before his set, was shocked and appalled, and pursued legal action.

Unfortunately, since they paid him in advance, there was nothing they could do, according to this piece by Sun reporter Julie Scharper.

Now that it's all said and done, I'd like to add my 50 cents to the mini-scandal ...

First off, this shouldn't have been a scandal in the first place. I can't believe this is the first time anyone ever cursed at Artscape, as BOPA executive director Bill Gilmore claims in Julie's piece. That's ludacris. It's probably just the first time the press noted it and people complained about it.

If BOPA was so concerned about curse words at Artscape, they shouldn't have booked a rapper like Wale to play it. Go for Will Smith or LL Cool J. With Wale, you pretty much know what you're getting, and it's not 100 percent family friendly. He's not dropping f-bombs right and left, but he's not Mr. Clean either.

While were talking "family friendly" performances, let's not forget Dru Hill doing "Thong Song" in 2008, or Robin Thicke's sexually charged live show from last year. Granted, they're not cursing up a storm, but their music isn't G-rated either.

To me, this seems like one of those cases where nothing would have happened if Investigative Voice hadn't dug up the story in the first place. Since the press grabbed it and ran with it, BOPA felt like they had to do something. But in the end, there was nothing they could do anyway, except never  book Wale or anyone like him at Artscape again. To me, that seems a little silly.

(Photo of Wale performing at the 2009 Virgin Mobile FreeFest by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:26 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Local music


Sigh. Seriously, people, grow up.

Basically all of the criticism is coming from the song he did called "Who Dont"

He should not have dont that particular song because it just wasnt appropriate. I bet if you asked the media to point out the other curse words during his set they probably couldnt remember. But that song "Who Dont" had A LOT of curse words and was loooong.

I just hope that one song song doesnt banish rappers from performing on the main stage next year. BUt if it does, thanks a lot Wale.

And this is why psuedo-government agencies shouldn't be involved in the booking or promoting of art of any kind. They're to rigid to understand it and are generally incapable of saying "whoops, but get over it," which, in this case, is the only appropriate response.

If we're going to sensor the concerts at Artscape from here on out, it'd probably be best to just cancel it. Heck, the supreme court just found that the FCC can't hold networks liable for "unplanned vulgarities" that are broadcast on TV or radio, and here, we're looking to provide an even more stringent threshold to live performances, which are by their nature inherently "unplanned" to a far greater extent than anything on TV or radio.

Get a dose of reality and have the gumption to tell people to lighten up when they make a big deal out of a minor inconvenience. No child has been relegated to a life of crime for watching this show. No one had a hard day after the show "explaining to the children" what Wale meant. If uppity suburbanites came into the show and are complaining about what they heard, BOPA should say "get over it."

Why can't anyone just provide the honest, easy, and obvious response in these situations? Everything's couched in bureaucratese and PC, placating terms. Anyone with an ounce of sense can chuckle at this non-story and say "move on, people." Why can't the people that have the power to actually make this go away do the same thing?

I blame the Tea Party and the New Black Panthers...8-)

Next you'll tell me that there's gambling in Rick's Café in Casablanca. Shocked, I am, simply shocked.

I fully agree that Wale isn't the first to curse from an Artscape stage. HOWEVER, I do think it was poor judgement to book him in the time slot that he was in. I've always enjoyed Sundays at Artscape for the laid back vibe and music (primarily reggae) that always made for a pleasant way to wind down the weekend. While I was interested in seeing Wale, the crowd that he brought in was far from laid back or family-friendly. I witnessed numerous scuffles and shouting matches on the hill in front of the stage. I also received more than a few inappropriate comments regarding my race, which certainly went against much of what Artscape is supposed to be about - unity through the arts. In the future I hope BOPA puts a little more thought into the acts they book and when/where they book them. Bring back legends of reggae (Rebelution this year was ok, but is hardly legendary) on Sundays and maybe work something out with discounted performances of edgier acts, like Wale, in venues like Sonar, Ottobar, Rams Head, etc.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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