While Gov. Bob Holden and members of the Missouri House honored St. Louis rapper Nelly, some questioned whether the state should praise a group that sings about illegal drug use and sexual promiscuity.
Nelly and his group, the St. Lunatics, were honored Tuesday for their promise to play basketball with high schools that showed increased participation in standardized state tests.
Lawmakers and young Capitol interns were among the hundreds of fans and spectators who showed up for the lunchtime event. The Missouri State Highway Patrol sent nearly 30 officers for crowd control.
Not everyone was pleased.
Rep. Charles Portwood, R-Ballwin, found copies on the Internet of Nelly’s lyrics – which included profanity and graphic sexual references – and carried them around to show people.
“Here we are honoring a man for his contribution to the education of our kids, but if you read his lyrics he is talking about promiscuous sex, crystal meth, snorting cocaine. These are the kinds of things you want your kids to hear?” Portwood said. “If it demeans our society, it’s wrong.”
Nelly, whose given name is Cornell Haynes Jr., shrugged off criticism.
“Hip-hop has run into a lot of resistance, period. We are the voice of the youth. Any time you are the voice of the youth, you run into resistance,” said Nelly, who’s nominated for a Grammy for his hit “Ride Wit Me.”