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Oprah, BET and Congress put rap on blast

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About a month before T.I. walked into a federal courtroom in Atlanta, he took the stand in a televised but slightly less publicized trial of a different sort. "Hip-Hop vs. America," the taped town-hall panel that aired on BET, also featured rappers Nelly (of credit-card ass-swiping, "Tip Drill" fame) and Mike Jones. They defended commercial rap's exploitative excess against critics such as Stanley Crouch, Nelson George, Farai Chideya and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

The YouTube video above is from part one of the second round of congressional hearings held in September on hip-hop. You can read more about that hearing — which featured rappers David Banner, Master P and intellectual Michael Eric Dyson — and some of the controversy surrounding the genre in this week's music story: "It's bigger than T.I.: Hip-hop is on trial and everybody's snitching."

The rest of the congressional hearing footage, below the jump, is must-see stuff, even though nothing much is likely to result from it. Curiously, footage of record company executives speaking before Congress in part one of the hearing is harder to find.

Click here to view BET's three-part town-hall panel "Hip-Hop vs. America," which aired in September.

Click here to view Oprah Winfrey's "After Imus: The Hip-Hop Community Responds," which aired in April.

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