In his hit, “Always on Time,” Ja Rule raps, “I got two or three hoes for every V / And I keep ’em drugged up off that ecstasy.”
I’m excited for Spring Fling. I’m excited to see Diplo, and I’m excited to see Betty Who. But I will be protesting during Ja Rule’s show. I’ll be carrying signs and using earplugs to avoid hearing his music. I understand that some will frown at my protest; others may even discourage it and say that I’m overreacting. But I hope you will join me in rejecting Ja Rule’s presence on our campus.
I sat down to listen to his music Thursday morning and immediately enjoyed the catchy ’90s beats. But then I listened more carefully and began investigating the lyrics. I realized that Ja Rule repeatedly glorifies rape, sexual violence, pimping and drugging women, among other illegal, immoral and misogynistic actions. His lyrics are beyond offensive. More than that, they are dangerous. We have grown so inured to these kinds of lyrics that we might not realize how objectionable they are, and the reactions and responses they cause. That being said, given trends in misogyny and issues surrounding rape culture — indeed, all the behaviors that contribute to a sexually hostile climate in our society — it seems highly inappropriate to feature Ja Rule at Spring Fling.
In his song, “Can I Get A,” Ja Rule raps, “Makin em feel, slutted even if they don’t want it.” This certainly does not abide by how Yale or our society views consent. According to what he endorses in the song, Ja Rule throws away the fundamental respect and dignity with which all human beings should treat each other.
In another song, “Always on Time,” he raps: “So, stop the complaints and drop the order restraints / Our sex life’s a game so bat me down in the paint /… Hold down on the bed while I’m yanking your braids / Thug style, you never thought I’d make you smile / … I play hard, there’s so many women I fathered / Meet ’em with scars and send ’em home hot and bothered.”
In this song alone, Ja Rule glorifies date rape, sexual violence and the silencing of women.
Ja Rule was booked on extremely short notice. But this does not exempt him from the scrutiny with which we should examine all artists who perform at Spring Fling. Yale has been working hard to improve the sexual climate on campus, and it is important that it continue these efforts by monitoring the performances at Spring Fling.
It is one thing to say that Ja Rule has the First Amendment right to say whatever he wants, or to justify his actions through freedom of artistic expression. But it is another thing to endorse his lyrics by funding his performance at Yale. Because of Yale’s status as an influential and elite academic institution, and our role as Yale students, we have a duty to Yale, ourselves and the world to condemn anything that contributes to a hostile sexual environment. The authority of our University runs well beyond our campus. By sponsoring this concert, Ja Rule’s lyrics speak, in part, for Yale and for us. Yale and all of its students have a responsibility to hold its artists, just as it would hold its commencements speakers, to a higher level of integrity and respectability.
It is more than ironic that Ja Rule’s performance comes directly after “Take Back the Night,” held just last Friday, which allowed students to share their sexual experiences and to “build a community of respect.” Ja Rule’s performance at Yale undoes much of the good work that we’ve been doing this year to build that community.
We have had this debate before, particularly when the Yin Yang Twins came — but this debate is not over. Until we stop funding such musicians, this debate, and thus the protests, must continue.
I hope you will join me on Saturday.
Mila Rostain is a freshman in Trumbull College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .