A few months ago, when Imus got knocked off the air because the man's penchant for obnoxiousness-over-talent schtick got him into more trouble than asshole radio could pay for, there was a large contingent of right wing punditry who were very angry because of what had happened.
Boortz in Atlanta, another of the asshat radio brigade, claimed that people going after Imus were really out to shut all right wing radio down. The ubiquitous 'they' were going after Imus so they would have enough street cred to take out knuckleheads of the not-really-conservative conservative radio. This circular logic was roundly met with nods of agreement by paranoid ditto-heads everywhere, even though right wing radio was never the target; asshole radio was.
Then came another kind of backlash: why weren't the 'they' who were going after Imus going after gangsta-rappers as well? This was a much more logical argument, though not to those of us who have been fans of popular music for the last 15 to 20 years.
You see, back in the day when rap was known as "hip-hop" and could be defended on an intellectual level, there weren't nearly as many nasty lyrics as there was in popular 'rap music' today. I'm not going to say nastiness didn't exist (we've always had Miami, after all), but it was never as prevalent as in current popular culture. At the same time, back in the day, there were far more haters of hip-hop trying to get the music banned and equating 2 Live Crew (nasty) with Tribe Called Quest, Leaders of the New School and Arrested Development (some of the most positive music you could hear of any genre in any timeframe).
So haters of hip-hop music lost credibility because they overreacted to something they did not understand. Therefore, the genre was allowed to use that lack of credibility against almost all critics, and rap was allowed to take an awful turn to the nasty side of the semantical street. Hip-hop as a positive was dropped into the underground, where it started, and the rap you know as pervasive in the popular culture emerged. The nastier the lyrics became, the more records got sold, because the same paranoia of them-against-us that fuels right wing radio fuels rap record sales.
If someone hates you = more money for you, or (H = ez$).
To relate this to the present day, the right-wingers use rappers as an example of the 'they,' and love to point out that folks like Al Sharpton only go after white people who say bad things. "A Double Standard (tm)!" they cry; "Liberal Hypocricy!" they call back. "They see me broadcastin,' they hatin'," rhymes Boortz in Atlanta. And conflict is manufactured and record sales...sorry...ratings go up.
Until they realize the reality of the situation, that it is black people, Al Sharpton too, who are leading the charge to change the culture of popular music. So sorry, y'all. The black community has had far more to complain about rap music in the long run than they ever had to beef with Imus, and they've been fighting this fight for longer than you can imagine. That's why there has been a division forever about what constitutes good hip-hop vs rap. Positivity vs Negativity. Duality. Elevation vs Degredation. U.N.I.T.Y. vs Bangin'.
Sorry y'all ain't been paying attention to the last 15 - 20 years of popular culture, or what your kids have been listening to.
It had nothing to do with Imus, he was just the biggest fish taken down in the larger war, and that takedown is having a huge affect, culturally, in the right direction. And as I said before, I will never complain when part of the problem falls for any reason, and Imus was definitely part of the problem.
We got a long way to go, but this is a step in the positive direction.