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Rapper’s visit at 2 HISD schools sparks criticism

November 9, 2018

A rapper known as OMB Bloodbath, whose lyrics mix graphic descriptions of sex and violence with tales of growing up in Houston’s inner-city, recently posted videos that appear to show her performing inside two Houston ISD campuses, leading to criticism Thursday from the Houston Police Officers’ Union president.

Two video clips posted through an Instagram account @ombbloodbath show dozens of children cheering along as an individual, whose identity cannot be determined from the video, raps into a microphone. The two clips total about one minute in length.

One Instagram post, dated Oct. 17, contains a caption reading “Attucks middle school it was love,” an apparent reference to Attucks Middle School. A second post, dated Oct. 18, includes a caption reading, in part, “Worthing it was real y’all kids stay focused and don’t forget what I told y’all,” an apparent reference to Worthing High School. Both videos appear to have been taken inside a school — the Oct. 17 clip shows a gymnasium with a sign reading “LET’S GO PATRIOTS,” the name of Attucks’ school mascot — though the exact location could not be independently verified.

OMB Bloodbath, whose given name could not be immediately verified, has gained a local following in the past few years, with a March 2017 Houston Press profile declaring “OMB Bloodbath Is Out to Break Barriers.” Her songs contain explicit lyrics that are common in popular music but would likely be objectionable in a school setting.

Houston ISD policy includes a formal process for vetting potential visiting speakers through the district’s Volunteers in Public Schools program. Campus personnel must “review the speaker’s presentation and all related materials,” and the visitor must register with the district. It is unclear whether OMB Bloodbath was a sanctioned speaker, or if she visited the campuses during non-class hours.

Houston Police Officers’ Union President Joe Gamaldi criticized HISD officials for allowing OMB Bloodbath on district premises, citing the content of her lyrics. Gamaldi also said the two events involved documented gang members on campus, though his statement was not independently verified.

“This runs contrary to everything we try to teach young people about staying away from gangs and staying away from gang violence,” Gamaldi said. “This is terrible.”

In a statement, district officials said the rapper performed at pep rallies, performances they said they did not authorize. They also have changed the vetting process for potential speakers.

“HISD officials did not invite nor approve the presence of the local rapper at issue at its campuses. Through an investigation, it was determined that during pep rallies held at two campuses, the performers who were invited to attend allowed the rapper to perform without notifying the school administrators or obtaining previous authorization.

“Additional vetting practices have been instituted as the safety of our students is always our top priority.”

St. John Barned-Smith contributed to this report.

jacob.carpenter@chron.com

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