December 1, 2006
Matthew D. Serra, CEO
Foot Locker, Inc.
112 West 34th St.
New York, NY 10120
I was a customer in your Lady Foot Locker store in Westfield Shopping Mall in Annapolis, Maryland two nights ago. While I was waiting for the manager to get some shoes for me to try on, I couldn’t help but hear the store’s soundtrack. This is what I heard, in part:
I told her to drive over in your new whip
Bring some friends you cool with
Imma bring da cool whip
Then I want you to strip
See you is my new chick
So we get our grind on
She be grabbin, callin me Biggie like Shine home …
Fullfilling our every temptation slow jamming having deep sex
You ready for the world girl
Come on over make me touch you all over your body baby don't say no to me
An every moment you controllin' me I'm lovin the way you be holding me when I be
listening to Jodeci
And when I come over and bend your ass You be bumpin Teddy Pendergrass
I'da hit it from the back to the melody to roll it slow
Now I gotta go up in it fast, but imma finish last
(Slow Jamz Lyrics, by Twista)
There’s more, but I think you get the idea. I am no prude, nor am I ignorant of music history; I know Ray Charles used to get banned from the radio for his “dirty” lyrics. But there is a difference between risqué and explicit, sexy and vulgar, suggestive and pornographic. This couldn’t have been more explicit than if it had been a sound track giving detailed instructions on how to change a tire, and frankly I found it about as sexy as automotive repair. I said to the manager, “I couldn’t bring my 10-year-old in here. This is unreal.” She said the soundtrack was a mix chosen by higher-ups, and that she had no control over it.
Well, somebody is in control of it, and since you’re the guy at the top that would be you. Perhaps teenage boys love this kind of music, and perhaps they are an important part of your clientele—but they can pipe this garbage into their heads with their Ipods on their own time. I cannot imagine that anybody else wants to listen to it.
The track prior to the one I quoted—and this is the reason I started paying close attention to the soundtrack in the first place--was all about somebody being in prison, and moaning “they won’t let me out.” I have no idea if you are white or black, Mr. Serra, but if this is your way of catering to a black clientele, it’s insulting. I happen to be an authentic Southern Redneck, but if somebody told me Rednecks spent all their time screwing or getting locked up, I’d be pretty offended. The fact that this music is popular with many young black people is testimony only to their tragic lack of self respect. But that’s their problem; I don’t see why you should enable it or cater to it.
Isn’t there a better way of making money? Like, maybe, just selling quality merchandise?