Saturday, January 14, 2006

RANT THIS! (1.14.06)

I’m not used to writing like this. Since 1992 when I started Rap Coalition, 99% of everything I write is with the emphasis of teaching folks or sharing knowledge and information about the industry.

So writing a Blog, where I get to drone on and on about whatever is important to me, without giving a thought to the reader, is very foreign to me. Foreign, but wonderful.

I’m not used to writing shit where I don’t care if others read it or not, and more importantly, without a worry about whether the reader likes it or not. And without explaining the “how or why” of something. And if I can’t find a solution? So what. How absolutely delicious….

I’m reading this book (I read a book a week, but I don’t HAVE to explain that) called “Are You Ready To Succeed” by Srikumar Rao, and he made this excellent point about why we have no real leadership in the world today. I can logically take what he has said and apply it to the rap industry: “There are many reasons for this unsatisfactory state of affairs. Our competitive system rewards naked aggression. Our consumption-oriented society equates success with the accumulation of material wealth. Our fragmented worldview perceives leadership as something that can be learned, as a technique that can be deployed. Leadership is a state of being, not a skill.”

We have no leaders in rap. The folks that seem to lead the pack, are so focused on self that the only things they are leading are sycophants and a slew of followers who have made calculated moves hoping to enhance their personal advancement through the association. Their portrayal in today’s videos don’t encourage others to lead, they encourage viewers to focus on immediate gratification, wealth at any cost, and the degradation of self and others.

We have no leaders in rap. We have millionaires beefing with each other over claims to be “the best” or other egotistical “he said-she said” disses. We have stars beefing over whose contribution on CDs had more value. Did you contribute for the kudos or did you do it because you wanted your peer to succeed? On the flip side, did you accept the help because the larger name opened doors for you and once the doors were opened you didn’t feel any loyalty was in order? It all comes down to one thing: your egos are so frail that someone hurt your feelings. By all means, seek and destroy everything in your path. That’s justified. Meanwhile, broke fans are saving up dollars to support your habit and feed the multi-national corporations pimping you-- you are merely a blip on their screens. Micahel Jackson was a commodity. He made a ton of corporations and businesses a lot of money at his apex. When his earning potential decreased, who rallied to his side? No one. You’re next. History repeats itself.

We have no leaders in rap. We have boys in men’s clothing (and some still in boy’s wear) leading the charts and leading sales, but no real leaders. We have 50 Cent building the island of misfit toys as a label, Puffy solely focused on building his empire and ego, and Jay Z who gave up a lot to get on back in the day, seeing to it that others coming up under him give up a lot to get on (a decade later) while running the pre-eminent label for giving up to get on. Ain’t shit changed. Master P was the Enron of rap, only Enron lasted more than 6 years—probably because they had friends in high places. No Limit only had pimps in high places. When the cash cow stopped milking gold, it got slaughtered. Hard to feel sorry for someone who never paid the artists properly. Artists, ya know, the thing that made the company all that money in the first place?

When these top of the chart kings do take up a cause, it always seems to be an exaggeration of whatever the recent celebrity cause is. While Vote Or Die was an important point to make, backing a legitimate candidate that benefitted a bulk of constituents would also have been important (and would have taken more balls). Vote Or Die was a lovely tax write-off for a grip of money spent, but what did it really accomplish when voters did not feel there was a candidate worthy of their vote? I guess "Die" seemed a better choice to many. I don’t mean to pick on Puff (although he is an easy target), at least he did SOMETHING while others sat idly by and smoked blunts while clowning Puff for making appearances whenever the cameras were rolling.

Do we have any enlightened millionaires in rap? The ones who seem to have the mindset, lack the power. A cruel joke indeed…