I was supposed to write this post about a week ago but life happened and I had to postpone. After all that has happened recently, it seems that I’m obligated to speak my piece with my piece. Historically speaking, the influence of black culture in the music industry is way too large to be undermined or swept under a rug. Our contributions to pop culture are incomparable and have proven to be very lucrative. We are cash cows. But, I don’t believe that the music industry, namely the executives that capitalize on the blood, sweat, and tears of artists have any true concern for the well being of those that they bait and “enslave” to their labels.
I’ve likened it to college recruiters that deliver outstanding promises to high school athletes. If you’ve watched Blue Chips or He Got Game you’ll see examples of these mealy mouthed scavengers flashing all kinds of luxuries in the faces of the have-nots that would give anything for an escape. Every ball player wants to be like MJ or in this generation, Kobe and Lebron, but they all can’t be that fortunate, and some aren’t able to take basketball past college especially if they’re injury prone. A college athlete, like one of these newly signed rappers are only spoiled and celebrated to bring their Universities/Labels prestige and financial gain. But, if that plan doesn’t follow through due to some kind of mishap on behalf of the signee, they are dropped and sent back to wherever they came from. Many of these labels lack competent A&Rs and they do little to polish the acts that they’ve acquired and when the axe falls, the signee is ass out and the blame falls upon their shoulders. Trinidad James had a buzz that he created for himself with his “All Gold Everything” single (the Don’t Be S.A.F.E. project was dope) which led to Def Jam striking while the iron was still scorching by adding him to their legendary label but they dropped the ball and Trinidad became independent again.
The music industry can be quite a disgusting place filled with the most ambitious of culture vultures who will do anything to elevate themselves at the expense of others and their misfortunes. For example, the media instigated and poured kerosene all over an already simmering fire between Big and Pac which benefited everyone but the two involved. We lost two of the most iconic individuals within a span of 6 months but with all the albums sold after their unfortunate passings, they proved to be more valuable dead than alive. Numerous rappers have been in and out of jail, developed (or already had) substance abuse problems, become bankrupt and the media is there to broadcast it to the world. Can I blame the music industry for the screw ups of a few artists? No. Everyone should take responsibility for their own actions but these labels have a tendency to chase after these guys from the street with “aggressive music” and are shocked when these artists end up in orange jumpsuits sharing jail cells with “booty goons”. Yes, I said booty goons.
I couldn’t find anything entertaining about Bobby Shmurda’s unfortunate situation. Too many young black men find themselves at the mercy of the courts, quickly becoming numbers in overpopulated jails, perpetuating a seemingly endless cycle. Bobby’s breakout hit “Hot N*gga” had everyone doing the “Shmoney Dance” but the actual lyrics sound like an interrogation room confession. All he needed to end the song would be Bill Duke’s character from Menace II Society saying “You know you f*cked up right?“. His follow-up single “Bobby Bitch” is just as catchy and just as violent so when the news broke that he was arrested and being charged with conspiracy to murder and other gun and drug charges, we kind of saw it coming. What pissed me off the most wasn’t just his incarceration but the genius minds behind the #FreeBobbyShmurda T-shirt that seemed to circulate like wildfire across the net. The creators of the meme, as per their statement in a GQ Editorial stated “We made them to show support and raise awareness. We are fans of his music and wish him the best in getting back to focusing on his career” but selling these shirts further spreading an idea of ignorance. Like what kind of “awareness” is being spread with a #FreeBobbyShmurda T-Shirt where there’s a picture of Bobby in handcuffs? He’s not a political prisoner. You’re making a mockery of a very serious situation. We live in a world where bad things happen EVERYDAY and crimes are committed by F*CKED UP people. Pushing forward this “Free_______” campaign is senseless ESPECIALLY if the parties involved are GUILTY of the accusations. The individuals who thought it was so funny to make a #FreeBobbyShmurda aren’t from the culture where dangers of the inner city and challenges due to the color of their skin causes them to lose sleep. It’s easy to dress, talk, act, dance, and BE like those that you find to be fascinating but when you don’t stand up for, protest with, and give back to a culture that use to elevate your brands then YOU are adding to the problem instead of aiding in the fight of advancement.
There are so many moments of appropriation that I see in occurring Hip-Hop that also happened in Jazz and Rock N’Roll. I love that EVERYBODY of all backgrounds can come together in these different genres but I strongly dislike seeing people come in and acting the part for their personal benefit then moving on when that vehicle is used up or no longer necessary to their plan. What can I do about it? I guess the only thing that I can do is share and spread knowledge instead of continuing to do nothing and letting it all fall to shit.
THE KING HAS SPOKEN… GOOD NIGHT!