By Cornell Dews
When black people say of other Black people “they’re selling the culture out” or “they are pimping out the culture” for establishing substantial monetary partnerships with businesses hailed by other races, what exactly do they mean?
By now, we’ve all heard about or have at least read an IG caption or a headline (not the entire story) of the sale of VERZUZ, Ace of Spades and TIDAL. Though many people have expressed their opinions about the moves by Timbaland, Swizz and Jay as being phenomenal business moves; there have been many in the rafters screaming “sellout.” Pardon my ignorance everyone, but the latter statement is thee most absurd nonsense I’ve heard in recent time. Besides the fact that it’s been reported that several hundreds of millions of dollars have been made by black Hip Hop artists and entrepreneurs, but in addition they maintained some ownership and gained influential positions in the companies that they partnered with. How is that not a win for the culture?
As I stated, I was so confused after reading all of the negativity attributed to these business decisions, that I had to look up Black culture. I thought I understood it. As a matter of fact, I thought I was well versed in it. S###, I’ve only lived it for damn near fifty years and have been studying it practically my entire life. I’m an expert in it, let me tell it. But if I graded myself by what I read on social media and the internet, I’m the most ignorant person on the planet when it comes to Black culture. How in the hell are we not applauding the business acumen of Jay Z, Timbaland and Swizz Beats? How could we associate them with being piranhas of the culture that they’ve spent damn near the last 25 years of their life building? Some things are just beyond my intelligence, I guess.
Black Culture, what is it? Whose is it? What should be done with it? For those sitting in the rafters yelling “sellout,” you do know that Black culture consist of so much more than the business of Hip Hop? A term I use loosely because the business of Hip Hop stretches well beyond Hip Hop. It shouldn’t even be called the business of Hip Hop. It’s just business. Now before I go into explaining all that I believe Black culture to be, I need to know that those sitting in the nosebleed seats screaming “sellout” feel just as adamantly about all things Black and not just that as it relates to Hip Hop and its artists. Black culture consists of politics, social issues, education, religion, family, morals, values, principles, community, language, history, business, art, fashion, cuisine and tradition. And a host of many other important tenets to my people. Black culture is multi-tiered and diverse. And for the most part, we know that, but somehow, we’ve subconsciously relegated Black culture solely to Hip Hop. Which causes us to respond emotionally to anything we deem invasive to it.
Are your feelings just as strong regarding Black politics? Do you support Shaun King and his GrassRoots Law Project? Do you vote on the local, state and federal level? Are you even a registered voter? Have you helped someone else get registered to vote? Have you financially supported any HBCU’s? Did you attend an HBCU? Are you an active participant in the community you live in? Community activist? Do you attend your local school districts board meetings? Do you support Black museums? Have you vowed support to the Universal Hip Hop Museum? Do you support Black institutions? Do you bank black? Do you get just as outraged when Black businesses, institutions and organizations are derailed, defunded, demolished and disbanded, benefitting no one? You don’t still watch Vlad, do you?
The term culture vulture is applicable in Hip Hop. But what we’re witnessing by Jay, Tim and Swizz isn’t that, in my most humble opinion. Nor by any means is it selling out. Once again, in my most humble opinion. Instead, what we’re witnessing from these brothers is big business. That’s Black excellence! Black culture extends far beyond Hip Hop. Our culture has impregnated the world using Hip Hop as a vehicle. But we’re so much more. Allow us to grow. Allow us to enter into buildings that we’ve been historically banned from. Don’t you think we have the ability to takeover those buildings as well? Get it? Takeover (Hov’s voice).
Black culture is us. It’s wherever we go. And we don’t allow anyone to change that about us. Nor do we conform. Instead, people conform to us. That’s not selling out. That is truly Black excellence. Them brothers don’t deserve our hate. They deserve our love and support. As a matter of fact, entering into those new domains, they need our love and support now more than ever before.
Period, without the “t” (Run-DMC’s voice)