Over a Year Later, mtvU Lifts Ban on Invincible's "Ropes" Video

Back in early 2009, Invincible sent mtvU her video for the song featuring Tiombe Lockhart, “Ropes,” off her debut LP ShapeShifters.  The song was written to help bring awareness to issues regarding depression and mental health, and the accompanying music video directed by Mr. Complex is a strong cinematic statement that should have made “Ropes” a shoo-in for getting placement on mtvU. Shortly after submitting a final version of the video, the folks at MTV let Invincible know that her video was approved to air. Unfortunately, MTV's Standards Department stepped in and rejected the video at the last minute on the basis that the video was "problematic" and had "suicidal undertones."

Invincible responded to this rejection, quickly shooting a viral video outside of the MTV's Times Square headquarters, asking viewers what they thought of the video being censored and whether they believed it was "problematic" to speak openly about depression, mental health, and suicide.

The video went on to garner tens of thousands of views on online video-sharing websites. The mtvU rejection became a story in itself as media outlets such as Salon, True/Slant, and All Hip Hop blasted MTV for their decision and Invincible's supporters sent personal letters to MTV demanding that the video be played. It's taken some time, but nearly a year and a half later, "Ropes" is premiering on mtvU. The video found supporters at Half Of Us, a project housed within MTV that confronts issues of mental health on college campuses. Half Of Us joined the chorus of people championing "Ropes," leading to a resolution with MTV: the Standards Department lifted their ban and cleared the video for airtime, and now "Ropes" is airing on mtvU and mtvU.com as part of the Half Of Us campaign.

Many of Invincible's fans were so angry at the initial rejection that they felt that mtvU didn't deserve to show any of her work. As Invincible explains: "I never requested for my listeners to write letters to MTV. In fact, my work is focused on creating community-run independent media outlets, not spending that energy placing demands on mainstream corporate-owned entities, but I still think both approaches are useful at different times. 'Ropes' getting aired is a powerful example of how people were able to come together and put pressure on a multinational corporate media outlet to be held accountable to its viewers."

There are many positives to this story and as Invincible notes: "The video being denied by MTV in the first place opened up an overdue dialogue online about mental health in the hip-hop community and beyond, and showed how taboo the subject is, which is why many people are still facing it in secrecy and silence. I hope "Ropes" being shown on mtvU continues to spark that conversation and lifts the burden of shame associated with these issues. As the name of Half Of Us–the project which pushed to get the video aired–implies, at least 50% of young people today are affected personally by mental health issues, and the other half know or love someone who is affected by them."

Buy the ShapeShifters CD, featuring "Ropes".

Check out more groups and artists doing work around these issues: