Bill Cosby: from pudding pops to hip-hop

April 15, 2008 8:48:04 AM PDT
Entertainer and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby is a vocal critic of the violent and degrading content of some hip-hop albums.Now, he's putting out an album of his own, one that Cosby says will be more positive for listeners.

The album is called "Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency." The 70-year-old Cosby came up with the content and stories, but decided to have guest rappers provide the rhymes.

"I wouldn't know how to fix my mouth to say some of the words," Cosby said.

The music ranges from hip-hop to pop to jazz. The subject matter ranges from the value of an education, to respecting oneself, to building self-esteem and confidence.

Bill "Spaceman" Patterson, Cosby's longtime musical collaborator, assembled the album. It will be released in May.

Patterson said he was surprised when Cosby first inquired about making a rap record - until the comedian revealed he wouldn't be the one doing the rapping.

"People started speculating, is he going to rap about Jell-O Pudding Pops or what?" Patterson said. "But he's always been involved in music and he was there for the first generation of spoken word."

Cosby said the hip-hop music he hears is profane and degrading. His album is "the opposite of what I think is the profanity for no particular reason, the misogyny for no particular reason," he said. "It really looks at the frustration and the anger that a young man may have."

"He has always understood rap's potential," said Patterson, "but he was appalled by the foul language and the misogyny - the way people used a medium that could be used to elevate people, to open their eyes and provoke thought."

Cosby made the album as a companion to his 2007 best-selling book, "Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors." And though he doesn't expect the CD to be a huge hit, it won't be his last hip-hop venture.

"We can do even better," he said. "The next one will be even more cheerleading."