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Tom takes us inside his hip-hop mailbag--and he actually apologizes

If I were to write a column in which I accused the Catholic Church of performing secret rituals involving animal cruelty, after which the participants consume the flesh and throw the bones at illegal aliens who are improperly parked in handicapped spaces, I might get six or seven e-mails. But mention hip-hop ...

After I attended a Tom Jones-Tower of Power concert, I wrote a column stating that I didn't think that hip-hop fans would be attending a similar concert 30 years from now. The e-mails are still coming in. I got taken to task in a big, ugly way, and darn it if most of them weren't right.

First off, a shocking 14 of the 37 e-mails I received defended R. Kelly. I threw all of them in the moron pile. This isn't O.J. Simpson, where a disinterested jury gave the middle finger to a racist police force and gave him a one-time-only free pass to kill.

And if you're dumb enough to think that O.J. Simpson was innocent, then some-bod-y is pro-bab-ly read-ing this to you. And neither is this the Michael Jackson case, where weirdness, greed, pederasty, money and California all came together to form ... God knows what.

This is R. Kelly, a talented, good-looking guy who could have his choice of millions of women and instead chose to visit various acts of perversion on barely-teenage girls and then film it! This isn't about race. It's about a bad man doing bad things to little girls. And if the prosecutor in Illinois will ever perform a self anal-stick-ectomy and finally take this thing to trial, I don't even think a jury of D12 members would be able to find Kelly not guilty. (Although, having suffered through one of their CDs, I'm sure that the D12 guys will think it's real clever to make references to a hung jury.)

Now, as for my screw-ups and other points, in no particular order:

1. I know that gangsta rap, which I rail against most often, is only a part of hip-hop. This was pointed out to me by Liz Palmer, Alex Batiste and just about everybody else who wrote. It's a dumb mistake to make, and I'll try not to make it ever again. My goal in life is to always try to make new mistakes.

The stupidest thing of all is that for a part of the time that I was writing the original column, I was listening to The Tipping Point by the Roots. I like them because they're a rap group who actually knows how to play instruments. What a concept.

2. Karl Bell, in a funny and informative e-mail, pointed out that Eminem produced his own latest CD and it therefore lacked the signature beats of Dr. Dre. It also featured "happy lovey songs" about Eminem's daughter, and Bell likened it to Metallica suddenly making a country album. OUCH!

Furthermore, Karl, I do understand that almost all music is derivative in one way or another, but this is the first form where performers literally stole the works of others, simply changed the words, and then tried to claim that it was an entirely new song.

3. Several people pointed out that Usher is not a hip-hop artist, but rather one in the field that sadly passes for R&B these days. While I could probably argue that Usher's signature song, "Yeah!," with Ludacris and L'il Jon, is certainly a hip-hop record, I (by mentioning Usher's killer moves and so-so voice) was trying to compare Usher to Tom Jones and suggesting that Mr. Raymond would come up short in staying power. I guess I didn't make that clear, because sometimes me not well with words.

4. One writer who identified herself as "Pissed off Chicago transplant" suggested that I listen to Digable Planets or Arrested Development. Oddly enough, I own CDs by both of those acts. I have Digable Planets because I'm cool like dat. As for Arrested Development, I liked their main guy, Truth, but I have to admit I still find the image of the bald-headed black woman sitting on the toilet in their video of "Tennessee" to be disturbing on many different levels.

5. One guy, in referring to both R. Kelly and 50 Cent, used the word "genius." That used to refer to people like Einstein and Mozart, but apparently now it also includes the likes of Barry Manilow and Pee-Wee Herman.

6. Several hip-hop e-mailers ragged on gangsta rap as foolish and demeaning. Now if we could only get those moderate Muslims to heap scorn on the jihadists.

7. One writer suggested that there is an unholy trinity of MTV, BET and corporate radio. Does BET know that?

8. Ian Williams sent me some lyrics from Aesop Rock. One line goes, "Cockroach utter thug specimen." Like they said in Good Morning, Vietnam, I have no idea what that means, but it sounds very negative to me. I'll just assume it's about Karl Rove.

So, I screwed up and I sincerely appreciate you people letting me know. And for the 14 people in the moron pile, may I just say: Marvin Gaye.

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