Rapping Role Models

Top German black music promoter Klaus Maack believes rap and reggae acts that sign an agreement to not use violent lyrics could be positive role models for the next generation of performers.

"It means that it will no longer be interesting for upcoming artists to get attention with violent lyrics when the people they most admire have passed on it," he told Pollstar.

Beenie Man and Sizzla were the first to sign an agreement drawn up with gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and his Stop Murder Music campaign.

Maack described the signing as a milestone for the black music community and predicts that performing homophobic songs will soon be a thing of the past.

The agreement, which is known as The Compassionate Act, calls for acts to "respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender."

It says there’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.

The act itself is the product of ongoing discussions between Tatchell, Maack, U.K. black music promoter Eddie Brown (Pride Music), French agent Michel Jovanovic (Mediacom), U.K. promoter Bagga John, Sundance Festival promoter Peter Senders and head of the U.K.’s Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group, Dennis Carney.

In return for signing the agreement, the major gay rights groups have agreed to stop trying to get the act’s shows canceled and to stop protests outside.

Tatchell has welcomed the news, although he says the campaign against Elephant Man, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel, Buju Banton and TOK will continue, although the latter has since added his signature.

Last year Maack had to use some last-minute diplomacy to keep his Summerjam Festival from landing in the middle of a row with gay rights activists complaining about some of the bill’s acts.

The Contour Music chief got Elephant Man to sign a paper saying he wouldn’t sing homophobic lyrics, the act stuck to the deal and the tension eased.

This year’s Summerjam lineup (July 6-8) includes Anthony B, Aswad, Beenie Man, Gentleman & Far East Band, Horace Andy, Maxi Priest, Sean Paul, Sly & Robbie, and The Roots.