Raven-Symoné Goes Against the Grain

Former Cosby kid stays true to her roots

Raven-Symoné is widely known as a good girl—the girl who grew up next door, gained fame on The Cosby Show actress who’s grown up to be a television, movie, and recording star with a carefully crafted and well-maintained wholesome image. This week her self-titled album hit the shelves. As with her previous discs, the 22 year-old wants to unequivocally honor her past commitment to nice-girl fare. “I am not going to sing about sex, drugs, and violence. That’s just not who I am,” she recently told Jet in a cover story.

Raven-Symoné’s album comes at a time when the music industry continues to face a grueling ride. Record sales fell 9.5 percent in 2007, according to Nielsen SoundScan, amid a climate where listeners continue to download singles and where CD sales continue to face competition from DVDs, games, and an onslaught of entertainment choices from social networking sites to YouTube.

With grooving party beats and funky, cool lyrics on songs like “That Girl,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” and a remake of the R&B dance classic “Double Dutch Bus,” this album is the stuff of the Disney sweetheart Raven-Symoné has become—albeit with a bit more grown-up edge. Much of the style is attributable
to the fact that this time around she has teamed up with hot hip-hop producers Eric Hudson, Sean Garrett, The J.A.M., and the Clutch. Further, her Disney Channel program That’s So Raven was a hit along with the TV movie franchise The Cheetah Girls, based on the books by Deborah Gregory. Her recent movie College Road
Trip
, which she also executive produced, earned a respectable $43.3 million.

Raven-Symoné’s new album and pledge to her image arrive after last month’s report by watchdog groups Parents Television Council (PTC) and the Enough is Enough Campaign on the daytime programming of BET and MTV (both owned by Viacom.) The organizations released data that suggests that children who watched BET’s Rap City and 106 & Park and MTV’s Sucker Free were “bombarded with adult content—sexual,
violent, profane, or obscene—once every 38 seconds.” What’s most alarming is that in a portion of the study—which analyzed adult content airing on the shows in question for a two-week period in December 2007—the researchers found that children under 18 made up approximately 40% of the viewing audience for 106 & Park,  41% of the audience for Rap City, and 39% of the audience for Sucker Free.

It further states that because the programs tend to re-air throughout the day, study results underestimate the percentage of unique children who are exposed or have been exposed to these programs in total.

According to the PTC/Enough is Enough report, consumer products giant Proctor & Gamble was the largest advertiser on the three shows of the study during the December period, having aired 78 ads within 27.5 hours of programming. Prompted by the report, P&G this week started soliciting feedback from consumers on whether it should continue to advertise on BET and MTV. The company has set up a hotline for consumers to respond to the

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