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Artists Condemn ‘MTV Hustle’ For Insensitive Ad Mocking Speech Impediment

Mo Joshi, Ankur Tewari and Su Real are among those calling MTV out on social media

Rolling Stone India Aug 09, 2019
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Last evening upcoming hip-hop reality show MTV Hustle posted a promotional video on their Instagram which immediately received strong backlash across social media. The video featured a rapper using his friend’s stutter as a beat to spit verses on. It is not an empowering moment for the friend; his frustration at the entire situation is waved off as comical. This immediately caused an uproar online with several fans calling out MTV for their insensitivity.

MTV Hustle premiers on August 10th and aims to give rappers across the country a platform through its premise of having them perform their own songs and no covers in front of four judges—electronic producer Nucleya and prominent rappers Raja Kumari, Raftaar and Naezy. Fans soon began tagging and demanding answers from the judges as well, calling out their silence as well as MTV’s failure to delete the video or apologize.

Fans weren’t the only ones blasting MTV for the slight—various Indian musicians stepped in to protest as well. “This is not cool. Offensive at so many levels,” commented veteran singer-songwriter Ankur Tewari on the Instagram post.

Azadi Records co-founder Mo Joshi expressed his disappointment in a Facebook post, explaining that speech impediment is something several artists struggle with on a long-term basis, his friend New Delhi-based rapper Tienas being one of them. “If you know me, you know how close I am to Tienas and how his speech impediment has affected his life,” Joshi stated. “When I first took him to a live show to perform back in 2016, he stuttered so much, that he walked off stage and went missing for a few hours in complete embarrassment.” He went on to discuss Tienas’ difficult journey to overcome the harrowing experience and what it takes to live with a speech impediment.

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Some artists argued that making light of speech impediments isn’t what real hip-hop is about, and others even offered ideas as to how the advertisement could have been conceptualized differently. Producer Su Real commented on Instagram, “This is in very poor taste and insensitive… Especially since you could have made more or less the same promo without the speech impediment aspect… Just get a producer or scratch DJ to cut up the audio of any normal person speaking. Or [you] could have made that character a beatboxer.”

Joshi adds another take in the comments of his Facebook post, saying “Now imagine this ad the other way round. Stuttering kid walks in and asks rapper for keys to car, stutters, rapper takes the mickey, stuttering kid then explodes with a tirade of killer bars and sick flows. Isn’t that obviously the way to do this…? I’d wanna watch this show.”

MTV Hustle finally deleted the post from their social media more than 14 hours after it first went up.

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