X-Rated Hip-Hop Programming Grows Up

Rhett Pardon
HOLLYWOOD - The T&A quotient is getting revved up on uncensored hip-hop TV programs as networks are pushing the button to draw bigger numbers.

Black Entertainment Television is delivering booty-call numbers with its late-night “Uncut” show, and Playboy is gearing up “H.Y.P.E.”, its new block of hip-hop programming.

The Playboy network already has started “Buckwild,” which plays uncensored videos with full nudity in between segments with various hip-hop artists.

It used to be that recording artists made their sexually explicit material for strip clubs, or selling them as part of videos or DVDs. Now, they’re bringing them directly to television.

Through BET’s “Uncut” and the Playboy network’s programming, it appears that there is a market for a lot more skin. Even Universal Music Group was reported to be starting its own uncensored music video network, but a spokeswoman called that premature.

Ludacris’ “Booty Poppin” video features close-ups of women’s voluptuous jugs as they strip at the stripclub. Women shake so wildly that bikini bottoms pop off as a group of ogling men grope them in Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video. Later, the women simulate sex acts with themselves. Nelly also swipes a credit card between a women’s buttocks.

“It’s almost like the other videos are like foreplay and the uncut videos are the act themselves,” video director Nzingha Stewart says.

Playboy says the network is delivering the demand for explicit material. “If you’re 21 years old, you’re ready to see the videos the way they were meant to be,” Tracy Lawrence, president of Playboy’s H.Y.P.E., said. “You don’t need to have them edited like they are for outlets where they have teens watching.”

Some, however, see the videos as a license to degrade black women. “ ‘Tip Drill’ aired in early December and I saw it,” Howard University student Cristina Payne said. “I was so upset with what I saw I was about to go down to BET [to protest] by myself. I let a couple of people know and they supported a protest.”

In December, Payne and 11 other students led a demonstration outside of BET’s Washington D.C. office. The protesters chanted “T&A, diamonds and cash! Is this what we fought for in the past?”

Michael Lewellen, vice president of corporate communications at BET, said the network tags “Uncut” as TV-14, and complies with Federal Communications Commission anti-obscenity rules.

“[The program] is positioned as and marketed as a program for music videos, whose content is outside the regulatory stipulations for other time slots,” he said. “[It is] for those artists to showcase their music videos.”