Local News

Who Dat in J Cole video? FSU, E.E. Smith High students, that's who

Posted June 30, 2010 8:22 a.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2010 6:48 p.m. EDT

— Cheerleaders and band members from Fayetteville State University and a local high school appear in an explicit version of a rap video that's gotten more than 3 million views on You Tube.

Now, administrators at the schools say they are dealing with fallout associated with what they are calling bad publicity.

"This is an institution that's 143 years old. We've got a broad range of constituencies," Thomas Conway, vice chancellor and chief of staff of Fayetteville State, said Wednesday. "We have to be concerned about what they all think on any given day."

Rapper J. Cole, a graduate of Terry Sanford High School, filmed his "Who Dat" video in downtown Fayetteville in the spring. It included appearances from Fayetteville State cheerleaders and band members from E.E. Smith High School.

Administrators say the video's producer pitched a product that would be positive and presented lyrics contrary to the profane, racial and sexually themed ones in the video.

"It was not appropriate for our young people to be in that video at all," Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till said. "It wasn't cleared properly. It was signed off by the school but not the district."

Till said he believes the video has hurt the reputation of E.E. Smith, which has worked hard in previous years to clean up its image and improve student performance.

Several years ago, the school was a low-achieving school. New numbers show student test scores rose 18.6 percent this past school year

"Now this is the image the public is seeing," Till said. "There will people who believe it is still the E.E. Smith of old as opposed to the new E. E. Smith that has great achievement and students that are going to college at a higher rate and going tot the best colleges. So, we're spending a lot of time defending as opposed to talking about the positive."

Till has sent a letter to producer BBGun Films asking that the video be retracted immediately or that the school's logo be edited from the video.

"I'm not optimistic that's going to occur," he said.

Fayetteville State Chancellor James Anderson has sent a letter to school alumni apologizing, saying the head of cheerleading at the university has taken responsibility for the appearance.

"If you look at it from the perspective of the young college-age students, by and large, they see no problem with being in the video or doing the video, but the reality is the citizens of the state, the alumni, are helping us pay for these students to be in school," Conway said. "It's my sincere hope that the institution doesn't get characterized by this one music video."