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TMZ.com and other media outlets are reporting that rapper and entrepreneur Master P is starting a record label with his son Romeo (nee L’il Romeo) “for hip hop artists with street music without offensive lyrics.”

Take A Stand Records is a direct reaction to the recent debate that ensued after the Don Imus debacle. As fellow Idol Chatter blogger Nicole Symmonds pointed out in her recent piece on rap music’s role in the proliferation of negative stereotypes, Imus tempered his apology by saying, “I’m not stupid. I may be a white man, but I know that these young women–and young black women all through that society–are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own black men, and they are called that name. I know that doesn’t give me, obviously, any right to say it, but it doesn’t give them any right to say it either.”

And although Master P has been known to throw around a few dirty epithets himself, the former street-hustling, crack dealer–who was named by Fortune magazine in 1999 as one of the wealthiest people under the age of 40 in North America–is looking “to be part of the solution.”

“There’s too much negativity out there–enough with the stereotypes,” TMZ.com reports Master P as saying. “Hip hop is a movement, and it is time for it to move forward.”

What is so fascinating about this movement of “responsible hip hop artists” is that, at first, Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records and elderstatesmen of the rap community, released a statement with his co-chairman of the advocacy group Hip-Hop Summit Action Network debunking “the false comparisons some in the media are making between Don Imus and hip hop” and that hip hop lyrics “may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression.”

But later the pair seemingly retracted that statement by issuing another press release, proving that it’s deeply complex issue even with in the hip hop community.

“We recommend that the recording and broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ and the racially offensive word ‘nigger’,” the statement read. “These three words should be considered with the same objections to obscenity as ‘extreme curse words’.” The pair continued to emphasize that “our internal discussions with industry leaders are not about censorship,” but corporate responsibility.

The balance between expression and supression has always been tricky, and there is nothing Americans take pride in more than our freedom of speech. But it seems the time may be right to have a serious, national dialogue about the use of hip hop and rap’s oft-derogatory lyrics. Sure, it’s been tried before. But with the weight of heavy hitters such as Master P and Simmons behind it, the conversation may finally bring some changes. But, only record sales will tell for sure.

The first release from the Take a Stand Records is a Master P-Romeo collaboration called “Hip Hop History,” and is expected to drop this fall.

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