Music videos are essential for promoting singles and albums for artists. When a video is done right, it can tap into the emotions and imagination of the viewers, and inspire people to actually buy music. However there are times when some artists put out music videos that are just too risqué and controversial for television. Here are 10 of them below …
Kanye West – Monster
In 2010, rapper and producer Kanye West put out his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy which is largely considered to be his most complete and accomplished album to date. The third single from the album was an impressive posse cut that featured a talented line-up of artists: Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z and Bon Iver. The video for the song was directed by Jake Nava, and it featured horrific imagery of zombies, decapitated corpses and other disturbing scenery. The video was immediately banned from MTV because it was said to glorify misogyny and brutalization of women. For those who haven’t heard this song, it’s worth listening to for Nicki Minaj’s scene-stealing verse.
Public Enemy – When I Get To Arizona
Chuck D and Flavor Flav are the founders of the group Public Enemy. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, they were known as the most socially conscious and politically active group in Hip-Hop. They also gained a lot of notoriety for providing the soundtrack from Spike Lee’s seminal 1989 film Do The Right Thing. In 1991, the group released an album titled Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Back. The album featured a song called “When I Get To Arizona” which was the group’s strong reaction to the state of Arizona refusing to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The song was banned from MTV because it depicted the fictional assassination of a White Supremacist governor. The album still reached No.1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart.
Nelly – Tip Drill
There are a few constants you can expect to see in almost every rap video: (1) Scantily-clad women (2) Expensive cars and jewelry (3) People smoking lots of marijuana (4) Scenes of guys popping champagne or drinking expensive liquor. But there are times when it’s taken to the extreme. An example is Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video; the video was released in 2003, and it immediately came under fire for its salacious and tasteless depiction of women as worthless, sexual objects. It was especially criticized by the student body at Spellman college, and with all the controversy, the video was banned by the BET Cable Network.
The Game – Red Nation
In 2011, West Coast rapper The Game released his 4th album titled The R.E.D. Album. This was the 4th LP released by the rapper after he made a huge debut into the game in 2005 with his debut album. His career was also helped greatly by the fact that when he got into the game, he was co-signed by both Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. The lead single for his fourth album was a track called “RED Nation” featuring Lil Wayne. The accompanying video was banned from MTV and BET because it was deemed to glorify gang life and gangster behavior. The Game reportedly had ties to the West Coast gang known as The Bloods who are notoriously known for sporting the color red as their gang identifier. For all these reasons, the video was quickly banned from television.
M.I.A. – Sunshowers
The song “Sunshowers” was released by British rapper M.I.A. in 2004. The track was featured on her extremely successful debut album Arular. The video for this song was filmed in South India and it was directed by Rajesh Touchriver. Even though both the song and video drew positive reviews from critics, it created controversy because of its politically charged lyrics. The song was eventually banned from MTV because M.I.A. refused to censor the song’s lyrics for television. This is what the artist herself said about the song at the time: “Sunshowers is about how in the news, the world is being divided into good and evil with the axis of evil and terrorism thing– so the song is asking how can we talk about gun culture and other issues while Blair is preaching that if someone hits us, we should hit back twice as hard.”
Nicki Minaj – Stupid Hoe
The song “Stupid Hoe” was the lead single from Nicki Minaj’s second album Pink Friday – Roman Reloaded. The single was released in the December of 2011, and it was widely considered to be her response to all the critics and haters of her global success (including fellow female rapper Lil’ Kim). The accompanying video was directed by Hype Williams, and it was a colorful, raucous and visual affair. When it was released via her VEVO music channel online, it notched an amazing 4.8 million views in just 24 hours. Even with all the video’s success, the video was still banned by the BET network because it was deemed to portray a negative message to women and young girls.
The Pack – Vans
Most videos are banned for overt sexual, indecent or politically-charged content, but the reason this video is banned was quite different. In 2006, a young rap group from The Bay Area on the West Coast put out a song called “Vans.” The song was pretty much an ode to the colossal casual sneaker company loved by young skater kids. Ultimately MTV decided that it couldn’t really support this video because it was such a blatant advertisement for the shoe company. You can still find this music clip on YouTube if you would like to check it out.
Eminem – White America
The song “White America” is a politically-incensed song featured on the second LP released by Eminem in 2002. In the song, the very talented Detroit rapper talks about incendiary cultural issues like race and the massacre at Columbine High School being wrongly blamed on controversial music acts like Marilyn Manson. He also talks about his influence on white suburban kids and how his albums sold more copies because of the color of his skin. The animated video of the song featured Eminem on a “Wanted” poster and it also depicts him being lynched while the US Constitution is ripped up in the same scene. Because of this explosive content, the video was ultimately banned from MTV.
Ciara and Ludacris – Ride
In 2010, Ciara and rapper Ludacris linked up to create a sultry and melodic single called “Ride.” The song cleverly used the metaphor of her riding a music beat to describe how flexible and capable she was in the bedroom. The video featured the leggy and voluptuous Atlanta singer wearing some very revealing outfits and executing risqué and salacious dance moves. The verse by Ludacris continued with the song’s sexual theme, and when all was said and done, the BET network decided that the song was just too raw and sensual to be aired on their channel. This one is worth Googling online – Ciara’s dance moves in this are quite AMAZING!
Mistah FAB – Ghost Ride It
Around the mid aughts, a new Hip-Hop trend arrived from the West Coast (the Bay Area to be exact) that seemed cool at first, but ended up being quite dangerous. The trend was called “Ghostriding” and it involved putting a car in neutral, blaring up the speakers to the maximum while the driver danced, sat on the car or strutted alongside the empty car. It was made popular by rapper E-40 and Mr. FAB took it to the next level with his video “Ghost Ride It.” After a while, stories started popping up in the news of kids getting seriously hurt by trying to ghost ride their cars. MTV quickly moved to ban this video by Mr. FAB to avoid any negative and harmful publicity.