Hip-Hop and Adult

Paul Lundgren
From Lil' Kim and Too Short to DJ Quik — from Ice-T to Luther Campbell and 2 Live Crew — hip-hop has long been known for its abundance of sexually explicit lyrics. Rappers were hardly the first recording artists to address sexuality; back in the 1920s and 1930s, blues lyrics also were full of sexual innuendoes and naughty, clever double-entendres. But rappers took sexually explicit songs to a whole new level in the 1980s and 1990s, and now, more and more MCs are allying themselves with the adult entertainment industry.

Over the past few years, there have been numerous examples of rappers working with adult-oriented entrepreneurs — including Lil Jon's two-video deal with Vivid Entertainment, Snoop Dogg's X-rated DVDs for Hustler Video/Larry Flynt Productions, Ice-T's "Pimpin' 101" video and Luther Campbell's alliance with adult director Justin Slayer. Eminem featured adult film queen Jenna Jameson in his "Without Me" video, and former N.W.A member DJ Yella (also known as Tha Kidd) has been making adult films since 1994.

"Porn and hip-hop are a perfect combination," veteran R&B/hip-hop journalist Steve Ivory said. Ivory has written several books, including books on Tina Turner and Prince, and has spent more than a decade as editor of Black Beat magazine. "As cliché as it sounds, we have to look at hip-hop as the rebellious little brother of rock 'n' roll — and rock 'n' roll has always been about sex. It's always been about getting the girl. And it's the same with hip-hop. When a lot of these guys pick up a microphone, they're usually rapping about one of two things: money or sex. So it makes perfect sense that there would be a connection between hip-hop and the porn industry. The associations we're seeing now are only the beginning."

Hip-Hop Forecast
Ivory and four other Los Angeles residents interviewed for this article — music publicists Phyllis Pollack and Makeda Smith, long-time music journalist Gary Jackson and Hustler Video's marketing and publicity director Sean Carney — all believe that business deals between rappers and adult-oriented companies will inevitably become more and more prevalent.

Ivory predicted that eventually an abundance of adult film companies also will become full-fledged record companies and will hire rappers to produce their soundtracks — and Pollack contended that if rappers like Queen Latifah, Will Smith and Ice Cube can become mainstream film stars then there is no reason why the more sexually explicit rappers shouldn't work with adult companies.

"For so long, hip-hop was treated like the bastard stepchild of the music industry," said Pollack, whose company Def Press has represented N.W.A, the Geto Boys, Above the Law and other well-known rappers. "We saw all kinds of editorials decrying hip-hop and claiming that it was the scourge of the music industry. So I think that because so many rappers were used to being treated that way, they weren't as afraid of being associated with the porn industry. Unlike people in other genres of music, they weren't thinking, 'Oh, being associated with the porn industry will hurt my reputation.' Wall Street and Madison Avenue didn't catch on to hip-hop right away, whereas the porn industry was much quicker to embrace hip-hop."

Smith, whose company Jazzmyne Public Relations has represented the hip-hop/adult magazine Fish 'N' Grits as well as some of Playboy TV's excursions into hip-hop erotica, stressed that the fusion of hip-hop and porn has a long history that can be traced all the way back to the innovative Rudy Ray Moore, an X-rated comedian/ rapper whose Dolemite films of the 1970s had a major influence on African-American porn.

Not A New Concept
"When a trend is hot, a lot of people think it just popped out of nowhere," Smith noted. "But a trend is usually a long time in the making — and the merging of hip-hop and porn was a long time in the making. It goes back to the 1980s with Luther Campbell, 2 Live Crew and Too Short, and it goes back even further than that with Rudy Ray Moore in the 1960s and 1970s. Rudy was writing X-rated raps 35 or 40 years ago. So the merging of hip-hop and porn isn't brand new by any means."

Carney, reflecting on Hustler/LFP's projects with Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon and Southern rapper Mystikal, anticipates that the company's involvement with hip-hop will continue to grow. "I can see companies like Hustler putting out simultaneous CD and triple-X DVD releases in the future," Carney said. "I'm actually surprised that hasn't happened already. Rappers have definitely released music-video DVDs and audio CDs simultaneously — Eminem, for example. Someday, a hip-hop artist is going to put out a triple-X DVD at the same time as a CD, and they'll be tied together as one concept."

One area of adult entertainment that, generally speaking, hasn't received as much attention from hip-hoppers is the S&M/fetish world. Although some rap songs have dealt with S&M in a comic way — including Ice-T's "The Girl Tried to Kill Me" and 2 Live Crew's "S&M" — there hasn't been a long history of uniting S&M-oriented porn and hip-hop. Ivory speculated that if someone in hip-hop starts making S&M/bondage films, it will probably be an intellectual alternative rapper who appeals to the De La Soul/Q-Tip/Digable Planets/Pharcyde crowd.

Thinking Man's Sex?
"S&M is what I call thinking man's sex," Ivory asserted. "With S&M, people aren't just fucking for the sake of fucking; it's a lot more complex than that. When guys first discover sex, we're just looking to get laid any way we can; we aren't thinking about anything as deep or complex as S&M — and I think that most young rappers are so enamored with the basics of Torrid Sex 101 that they haven't gotten to the point where they can start making S&M movies. If S&M films start coming from hip-hop, it will probably come from a thinking man's rap group. S&M, in its own way, can be very highbrow."

Asked if he thinks the fusion of S&M and hip-hop is an untapped market, Carney replied, "Hell yeah, it's untapped. We'd love to have a hip-hop artist come in here and pitch something that uses S&M gear in a hip-hop triple-X video. That would be fantastic. But it just hasn't happened yet, that's all.

"Whenever there's a trend, it has to evolve before you start seeing really wild variations — and right now, people are still hammering out the parameters of this hip-hop/triple-X trend. Later on, you'll see people wanting to break the rules — which is always very exciting."

Whether it involves kinky or vanilla sex, Jackson believes that adult entertainment will offer countless business opportunities to rappers. "It's nice to see the porn industry becoming a bigger source of revenue for hip-hoppers," said Jackson, former senior editor/R&B editor for the music industry trade magazine Hits. "The porn industry's system of distribution is second to none. In terms of distribution, it makes record companies look like they're still in the horse-and-buggy state.

The porn companies will be able to get hip-hop CDs and DVDs into new places — such as the large sex shops that are opening up — and onto major porn websites. Hip-hop is already huge, and the porn industry will give it yet another area for exposure. The marriage of hip-hop and porn is only going to keep expanding."