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POP EYE

June 16, 1991|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

THE "DONAHUE" YOU MISSED: If only rap concerts were half as entertaining as the recent Phil Donahue show that featured an all-star panel of women rappers, including M.C. Lyte, Yo-Yo, Bytches With Problems and Harmony. The show, designed to spotlight solidarity between rap's often-disrespected second sex, quickly degenerated into a fiery showdown between BWP and Harmony. It was a classic rap grudge match, but no one in L.A. has been able to see the fireworks, thanks to KNBC-TV, which has refused to air the program. Why the sudden attack of conscience from KNBC, which has broadcast many provocative Donahue shows, including one that featured a panel of nude performance artists with black bars over their private parts?

According to a KNBC spokeswoman, the station's standards department nixed the program after determining that "there was an obscenity clearly visible on one of the women's caps." (One of the members of BWP wears an Alice in Chains cap with a logo underneath the bill which says "Who the (expletive) is Alice?") Watching a second-generation tape of the show, Pop Eye could not make out the offending logo. Apparently KNBC's censors got a better look than Pop Eye--or the Donahue staff. "We don't think you see anything on her cap," explained "Donahue" exec producer Lorri Antosz Benson, who said the show aired without incident elsewhere. "It certainly wasn't apparent to us--in fact, we didn't even see it when we did the show."

So what did we miss? The show opened with Donahue, outfitted as a hip-hop character, doing an impromptu rap performance. Each woman did a song, but the chit-chat between performances turned ugly when Harmony dissed BWP for promoting negative stereotypes about black women. After her initial blast, Harmony was repeatedly drowned out by BWP leader Lyndah McCaskill, who got so worked up that her partner, Michelle Morgan, seemed embarrassed by her antics. Caught in the middle, Yo-Yo shrewdly kept her own counsel while M.C. Lyte tried to act as peacemaker. All in all, it was a lively debate, but hardly a display of rap sisterhood. The best line of the day? When an audience member asked the women how difficult it had been to get a record contract, M.C. Lyte impishly responded: "Well, it didn't take me long, because my father owns a record label!"

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