ORANGEBURG, S.C.- The former co-host of BET's popular 106 & Park video countdown show blasted this week what he called the destructive messages of many of the show's most popular music videos. A.J. Calloway co-hosted the show for five years with Free, whose given name is Marie Wright. Both left the show in July. "I couldn't watch my own show with my niece on my lap," Calloway told an audience Wednesday at South Carolina State University as part of the "Black Student Today" panel. The discussion focused on the impact of hip-hop music.
"Pick your five favorite songs," Calloway said. "Write down every word that's in your favorite songs. Read it back to yourself and think about what that has put into your head.
"Understand internally what you're taking into your soul and into your system. Really look at it. You might say it doesn't do anything, but I'm telling you it does."
Calloway has said that he left because he was only offered a brief extension at the end of his contract. But BET executive Stephen Hill said then that he was surprised Calloway decided to leave the popular show.
Calloway told the university audience he had vowed that after facing racism growing up in New Jersey he would "never do anything against my race."
"I felt like I was hurting us by doing what I was doing," he said.
He said the messages in some hip-hop music serve as a distraction to the challenges facing blacks.
"We're so lost in the music, we don't understand the reality of what's happening day-to-day in our lives," he said. "All those institutions that are out to bring down (blacks) don't have to work any more because we're doing it to ourselves. … They're laughing at us."
Another panelist defended hip-hop music's messages.
"Most of the lyrics, if you listen to the poetry of hip-hop, is about taking a devastating situation and making it better, coming up out of poverty," said Ben Chavis, co-founder of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.