“To the sellouts living it up, one way or another you’ll be givin’ it up.”
Tupac on “Holla if ya Hear Me”
A decade ago, 50 Cent had the industry shook when he put out “How to Rob;” a song where he threatened to hit cats up for their jewels. In 2011, people are threatening to hit them up for their stocks and bonds. For years, snatchin’ somebody’s gold chain was seen as the ultimate diss in Hip Hop. Now, the symbolic act has taken on a political significance.
Naw son, we don’t want your Jesus piece, you gotta give up that NASDAQ money!
There has always been an element of class conflict within Hip Hop since the Sugarhill Gang blew up because of the commercial success of “Rapper’s Delight.” This did not sit well with hood cats such as the Cold Crush Brothers and others who felt that Sugarhill did not really rep the streets. Perhaps the closest that Hip Hop came in addressing class-ism was the 2002 beef between Nelly, representing corporate Hip Hop based on Wall Street and KRS One, holding the torch for the original movement based in the South Bronx. However, for the most part, members of Hip Hop’s millionaire boys club were given a ghetto pass for the sake of “preserving Hip Hop unity.”
Also, in earlier years, there was still that pipe dream that although you were poor today, if you just got a chance to get your demo in the right hands or spit a hot 16 bars for a rapper backstage at a concert, you too could live the lifestyle of the rich and shameless. But with just a handful of people lockin’ the whole game down, even the most optimistic, aspiring artist is beginning to realize, that just ain’t gonna happen.
Like Mobb Deep said, “there’s a war goin’ on outside, no man is safe from.” And I’m not talking about some East Coast/West Coast beef or some confrontation over a lyrical diss. No, the war on the horizon is between the haves and the have nots.
With the current socio-economic unrest in this country, it was only a matter of time before the threat of a full scale class war would come knocking on the gates of the Hip Hop Nation. Recently, we have seen a call to not only occupy Wall Street, but to #occupyhiphop , as well, and this call will only get louder.
Why? Because now, it is not only the streets that are hungry but the ‘burbs too. Thanks to the US economy the whole world has become a “ghetto.”‘
No dude who is hustlin’ on the bitter cold streets for money to buy his baby girl some diapers wants to hear about how some Hip Hop superstar just blew a milli on a crib for his unborn child. Also, the middle class kid who used to only live out his hood fantasy, vicariously through, “gangsta rappers” has found out that being broke ain’t no joke when his dad lost his six figure job.
One of the basic principals of dialectical materialism is that the seed of the destruction of capitalism lies within its own contradictions. As Kwame Nkrumah wrote in his book “Consciencism,” “running with the hares and hunting with the hounds is more than a pass-time to capitalism: it is the hub of a complete strategy.” The same can be said about Hip Hop, as rappers have tried to serve the interests of Wall Street and “the streets” simultaneously. So, the “ballin’ outta control” attitude of commercial Hip Hop artists has produced a growing resentment among those who are strugglin’ to make a dollar.
It is now more evident that in the war between the oppressed and the oppressor, some Hip Hop artists have enlisted in the oppressor’s army. They have been on the front lines destroying an entire culture.
As Carroll Quigley wrote in “Tragedy and Hope,” “the destructive impact of Western Civilization upon so many other societies rests on its ability to demoralize their ideological and spiritual culture as much as its ability to destroy them in a material sense with firearms.”
Also, they have used the art form to mentally enslave the masses, thus helping to pacify the permanent underclass that is necessary for the present economic system to survive.
Despite the idea that the rap kingpins got rich propagating that the drug game is a way to survive in poor communities, the powers that be can shut that down just as easily as they can cut off your electricity. They control both legal and illegal money and can shut down the entire hood if it goes against their economic interests.
See, it’s much bigger than Hip Hop. Today, because of 360 recording deals and “branding,” a Hip Hop artist is a corporation all by himself. So, our beef is not with Shawn Carter, the artist, but with “Jay Z , Inc” and other exploiters of the poor. According to Dr. Richard Oliver and Tim Leffel in “Hip Hop Inc” “to be a member of the Hip Hop Nation, today’s consumer must not only listen, look and drive the lifestyle, they must do their financing, vacation planning and whatever else the moguls can convince them belongs in this category. “
This is a fantasy world that 99% of us can’t afford.
So, we have the beginning of an uncivil, civil war between artists who sip thousand dollar bottles of booze and Hip Hop fans who can’t feed their families.
How long will it last?
Like Pac said “till the poor get more cash.”