The Future of Blacks in Hip Hop: Masters or Slaves?
By Tre Millyanz
“Ma, what is this crap you’re listening to? That’s old white people music!”
This is a statement talking about Hip Hop I imagine happening 20 to 30 years from now. Granted, it’s hard for us to imagine now, but look at what happened to Jazz, Rock, and even Country (a little bit). Sure there are Black artists involved in all of them, but, as the originators of each of those genres, we are underrepresented relative to where we were in the past. Most importantly, on the business side, non-Blacks are making 90% of the money. This is where we could find ourselves with Hip Hop if we don’t watch out.
The transition from young, “urban” music to stuffy white people music begins in the corporate board room and ends with the artists. There are a few white trail blazers that creep up from time to time (e.g. Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, Eminem, Paul Wall, etc.), but eventually they begin to flood the market. The trailblazing white artists usually just imitate the Black artists as best they can with a slight little twist; it might even take you a minute to even tell that they’re white. Over time that little twist becomes a 180-degree turn and the music sounds completely different (e.g. Asher Roth). This is what you have now with all these white rap groups popping up and sounding like they just graduated from some elite boarding school in New England. I’m not hating, I’m just sayin’. If this is the future of hip hop, let’s go ahead and have the ceremony now to officially hand it over to the pasty preppies.
So what does all this mean? Should we be mad at white people for taking over yet another genre of music? No, that’s just what they do...take over and control things. We start trends, they take them over and exploit them for profit. No offense, you know it’s true and you can’t fault them for it. We only have ourselves to blame for not having the vision and will to corner and hold a market. The main point I’m trying to get across is not that it matters what color the artist is. What I'm concerned with is the color of the person signing his/her checks. If we can’t even get in on the artist side in the future, how can we hope to own record labels, publishers, and distribution companies where the real money gets made?
The industry is already set up to pay artists pennies relative to major labels, distribution companies, and publishers, so white business men are already making a killing off of us. But if the trend continues, we won’t even be able to make as much money on the artist side either. I don’t care what color the artist is, as long as it’s a Black person owning the label, distribution, publishing, and writing the checks. Why, because we invented these types of music, so we should own them and use them as vehicles for change and uplift rather than the watered-down, nursery rhyme music that glorifies ignorance and buffoonery and creates Black enemies of Black people. Also, more fundamentally, because we find ourselves in a capitalist state, and capitalism is about competition. More often than not, the “teams” are organized first by race/ethnicity. Don’t take my word for it, read Blueprint for Black Power for a thorough explanation of why this is the case. You've got to choose a team and get in this game or get passed by.
Luckily, there is a trend in the industry of artists going independent and forsaking these terrible major label deals. This way they retain more ownership and creative control of their music, so they can make more money selling 100K albums that they would selling a million records with a major label deal. Although this creates more Black-ownership, unfortunately, it's minor league business and it creates more division (modern day tribalism) and discourages the formation of large Black-owned entertainment powerhouses to rival the European and Asian companies. My suggestion is that rather than everyone starting "independent" labels, we all get together and buy or create a major label, owned and operated by Blacks for the benefit of Blacks primarily and humanity secondarily. I believe this is the only sure way to secure our future and dominance in Hip Hop. Time to step up to the majors son; weak, slave-minded Negroes need not apply.
What is the future of Black people in hip hop? Will we become masters (owners) and take over the game from the CD manufacturing plant all the way to the radio waves? Or will we remain slaves (employees) and end up like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRVqVwGWocM
Disclaimer: the views and opinions stated in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of DN Group or any of its subsidiaries.