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Howells hammers home attack on rappers' 'culture of killing'.

ARTS Minister Kim Howells renewed his attack yesterday on rap lyrics which glorify violence, branding record companies 'cynical' for making profit out of songs which romanticise guns and drugs.

Mr Howells caused controversy last month when he appeared to lay some of the blame for the New Year shootings of two young women in Birmingham at the door of hip-hop music, which he said promoted 'a culture where killing is almost a fashion accessory'.

Yesterday he insisted he did not want to see songs censored, but said the record industry and artists had to take more responsibility for the messages their lyrics sent out.

Mr Howells said, 'What we are looking at here is a very cynical attempt to romanticise and glorify these idiots who go around carrying guns and knives. Lots of people are making a packet out of this and they are promoting it like mad with advertising.

'What I would like to see is for the record industry, which is making a packet out of this, to start thinking very seriously about engaging with their songwriters, singers and bands and saying to them, 'Is this what we really want to put out?''

Mr Howells insisted he was not directly blaming rappers for gun deaths.

He said, 'I don't think there is any direct cause and effect. My objection to it has been that it corrodes our sensitivities and the way we see the world.

'Anything that glorifies that phony, boastful bravery using guns and knives is something we should hold a line against.

'I am not a defender of censorship. I don't think any society has managed to stop artists and writers creating, but I think they, and we, ought to ask ourselves questions about what it is we write and sing about.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 13, 2003
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