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“REVOLT BLACK NEWS Weekly” aired on Friday (Sept. 2) to discuss President Joe Biden’s student loan relief package, new legislation to prevent rap lyrics from being used as evidence in lawsuits, highlights from the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, and more. REVOLT Special Correspondent Rochelle Ritchie hosted the episode, titled “Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness And Black America And Hip Hop on Trial.” She was joined by Indiana GOP Director of Diversity Whitley Yates, Democratic analyst Jonathan Harris, CEO and Chairman of 300 Elektra Entertainment Kevin Liles, music artist Nesha Nycee and host of the “Big Homies House” podcast Big Homie Kodak. REVOLT Entertainment Correspondent Kennedy Rue McCullough also brought viewers the latest in celebrity news, during which she interviewed DJ Khaled at the VMAs and caught up with rap star Latto.
Ritchie opened the show by discussing President Biden’s announcement about student loan relief and the impact it will have on Black borrowers. Biden stated that individuals making less than $125,000 or couples who make less than $250,000 will qualify for the debt relief program. Pell Grant recipients qualify for $20,000 in relief while non-Pell Grant recipients qualify for $10,000. During an interview with REVOLT, Keisha Lance Bottoms, senior advisor to the president for public engagement, expressed, “This is huge. It’s a game changer.” Dr. Tony Allen, chair of the president’s board of advisers on HBCUs, told REVOLT, “I believe it is literally the most comprehensive, far-reaching initiative on student debt relief in American history.”
Ritchie held a roundtable discussion with Yates and Harris to dig deeper into Biden’s student debt relief package. Yates believes President Biden’s actions are “performative and [do] not address the real issue.” “I do not think that he’s gone far enough. I think when we’re looking at this and how economists have seen it, this will actually worsen economic inequality,” she explained. “Nearly two-thirds of all student loan debt is owned by the top 40 percent, and the Wharton School of Business is saying that 70 percent of all student loan forgiveness will go to 60 percent — we know that Black people are not within this category.”
On the contrary, Harris is surprised by the pushback Biden has received since revealing his student debt relief initiative. “It’s surprising. We’re seeing people who are working class Americans, who voted for someone, saying, ‘We need help,’ and him delivering — and delivering at a record time, I might add,” he asserted. “We know that Black women make up the majority of student loan borrowers that owe the most debt and this is going to benefit them a tremendous amount, so I think calling this ‘performative’ is very dismissive.”
Switching gears, Ritchie turned her attention to a new law that will prevent hip hop lyrics from being used in court. In May, Gunna and Young Thug were charged with several racketeering charges related to gang activity. Shortly after their arrest, a district attorney prosecuting the two rappers announced that lyrics from songs like “Just How It Is” and “Take It To Trial” would be used as evidence in their cases. While speaking with REVOLT, Liles stated that what is happening to Gunna and Young Thug is “an attack on our culture. I think it’s an attack on hip hop. There’s no other creative expression — whether it’s tv, film or music — outside of hip hop that’s being targeted and attacked in this way.”
Ritchie spoke with Nycee and Kodak about whether artists should be penalized for their lyrics. Nycee believes that the “court of law” should hold artists who incriminate themselves with their lyrics accountable. “It’s one thing to practice the First Amendment and the right of freedom of speech, but it’s another thing to incriminate yourself and blatantly put out exactly what you say you are doing,” she declared. “I understand people want to look a certain way in the community, look like the top G, but [there are] consequences that come with that.”
However, Kodak believes rap “shouldn’t be taken at face value.” “Just because someone puts something in their song doesn’t mean it’s true. If the court of law has to actually find evidence to convict somebody, that [shouldn’t] include rap lyrics,” he voiced. “If I’m an artist and I’m an entertainer, I may be rapping about things I may have seen, may have been around that … doesn’t particularly mean that I’m committing these crimes.”
Later in the show, McCullough hosted her “Entertainment Remix” segment, during which she discussed highlights from the VMAs and showed clips of her interviews with DJ Khaled and Latto. Some of the night’s top winners included Nicki Minaj, who won the Best Hip-Hop award for her single “Do We Have a Problem?,” and Lizzo, who accepted the Video for Good award for her hit single “About D**n Time.”
During the awards show, DJ Khaled had the honor of presenting the Best Collaboration trophy and while on stage he repeatedly said, “God Did!” to promote his latest album, prompting viewers to take to social media to create a viral moment. Prior to presenting the award, DJ Khaled spoke with McCullough and shouted, “God Did! REVOLT did. Puff did. Oh, you think it’s a game? The love is felt. They didn’t believe in us. REVOLT did.”
McCullough also caught up with Latto to discuss her collaborative “Big Energy” performance with Mariah Carey during the 2022 BET Awards. “Girl, I’m still in shock. Sometimes I watch the YouTube clip and be like, ‘That’s really me.’ I’m soaking it in,” Latto revealed. Watch a quick clip from this week’s episode up top. Plus, be sure to catch the next installment of “REVOLT BLACK NEWS Weekly” on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET on REVOLT’s app.