“In the real world these just people with ideas/They just like me and you when the smoke and camera disappear” – “Hip Hop”, Dead Prez
When Virgina “V-Gangsta” O’Hanlon’s homegirl broke the news to her that Santa Claus was a big fat fake, it didn’t faze her one bit. As long as she still got her Lil’ Wayne CD for Christmas, she was good. But years later, when she found out that her new favorite rapper, Rick Ross, wasn’t the gangster she had grown to know and love, she went into a violent rage, followed by a major depression lasting several days…
Recently, mainstream America got hip to something that “the ‘hood” already knew. Their beloved Grammy-nominated gangsta, William “Rick Ross” Roberts wasn’t a gangster after all. He just played one on TV.
This has sent his suburban fans searching for a “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” type of affirmation. Just like Virginia O’Hanlon, when she wrote the famous letter to the New York Sun back in 1897, asking for reassurance that the Jolly Ol’ Soul was real after her friends told her that Ol’ St. Nick was just a trick, Rick Ross fans are sheddin’ tears in their eggnog, yellin’ “Say it ain’t so!”
Last week, Rick Ross cancelled the remaining dates of his MMG (Maybach Music Group) Tour, reportedly because of YouTube videos posted by members of The Gangster Disciples who threatened to step to Roberts for shoutin’ out their leader’s name on one of his songs, and using their gang symbol on a CD cover without breakin’ them off a little royalty cash.
To make matters worst, the rapper has beef with convicted drug dealer, Freeway Ricky Ross, of the infamous Iran/Contra/Compton cocaine connection that was alleged in the ’90s by the late reporter, Gary Webb. Apparently, Freeway Ricky Ross is miffed that rapper Rick Ross has the nerve to use his popularity of contributing to the genocide of thousands of children in the ‘hood to sell records that glamorize the genocide of thousands of children in the ‘hood.
However, the main people upset by the revoking of Rick Ross’s ghetto pass are members of his Caucasian crossover fan club who, vicariously, live the ghetto life through their favorite rappers from the comfort of their spacious homes in the ‘burbs.
Someone once said, insubstantially, that 80% of the kids who buy Rap music are white. While we are not sure how he, scientifically, arrived at that figure, he’s probably darn close if you look at whose parents have the most disposable income.
During the mid to late ’70s, Hip \-Hop started as an obscure form of party music barely known outside of four of the five NYC boroughs. However, with the release of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” Rap music became White America’s long range telescope for viewing urban blight. During the late ’80s, Public Enemy frontman, Chuck D, proclaimed Rap “the CNN of Black America.” Shortly after this pronouncement, NWA brought Gangsta Rap to the forefront and rappers became the epitome of Tall, Dark and Dumb, the dudes that all of the cool, White guys wanted to be like, and the hip, White chicks wanted to be with.
So for White kids, “Gangsta rappers” were the perfect Christmas gift, like a life size, thugged out version of a GI Joe with the kung fu grip. Or Shirley Temple’s “Mr. Bojangles” with street swagger, willing to buck dance at the drop of a dollar.
But last week, the charade came to an abrupt ending, when Middle America had to come to grips with the fact that maybe their superheroes of the ‘hood weren’t so super after all.
They finally had to deal with the reality that it was all one big joke, and the joke was on them. Although the music industry marketing gurus could spin the well known fact in Hip-Hop circles that Rick Ross was a former correctional officer, earning him the title a la rapper 50 Cent, “Officer Ricky,” the idea that a feared Gangsta rapper is scared of gangsters is an unforgivable sin in Hip-Hop. He might as well have done a duet with Barry Manilow.
But it’s not just William Roberts who is perpetratin’ a fraud. Many of the fiercest Gangsta rappers and producers in the industry are actually college educated, from Suge Knight to Sean “Puffy” Combs. Even Robert ‘s fellow Grammy nominee Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps attended college on an athletic scholarship during the mid ’90s, despite his lyrical content that centers around “big booty hoes.”
But the question is, now that the jack-in-the-box is out of Santa’s bag, where does Hip-Hop go from here?
The music executives can either allow Hip-Hop to grow up and once again become socially relevant, or they can continue on their fool’s errand of trying to fool all of the people all of the time.
History teaches us that they will probably try to make a feeble attempt at the latter. I mean, if they can turn a C.O. into an O.G., I guess anything is possible. But in reality, the future direction of Hip-Hop depends on the gullibility of the consumer.
Just like the cop-out that a parent gives his child when she finds her toy pony hidden in the garage two days before Christmas:
“Santa exists as long as you believe he does.”
So does Gangsta Rap, Virginia. So does Gangsta Rap.”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s website is NoWarningShotsFired.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@truthminista).