Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who Runs Hip Hop?

Damn... I knew that this Imus situation would open the flood gates of criticism on hip-hop. It's definately taking a beating right now. But, personally, I think it's way over due. Rap has become a modern day minstrel show of repetitive hooks, violence and misogyny. I definately support freedom of speech, but it seems that record companies are only shoving the ignorant side of rap down the throats of the kids that they target (it's not even spoon feeding anymore).

On the heels of getting chewed out by Oprah and friends, Russell Simmons asked the RIAA to place a ban on the words "nigga, ho, and bitch" in music played over the airwaves. This proposal would force rappers to actually change their lyrics and not just use "bleeps or muting" of those words when singles are played on public airwaves. This does not include censorship on actual records.

I actually agree with this move, but for the most part this is already in place. While I commend him for taking that step to ask, it won't happen; and even if it does, it doesn't get to the root of the problem, which is not the artists making the records, but the companies that seek out the artists willing to make these types of records for pay.

The problem isn't the Rich Boy's, 3-6 Mafias, and Young Jeezy's, but rather the Lyor Cohens, Jimmy Iovines, and Tom Silvermans. These are the guys that control the purse and have the real power to make change. They are the ones who pay the black psuedo-moguls, that pay the rappers to rap about illegal and destructive wet dreams. Most of these rappers never lived what they talk about and only do so because they are under pressure to follow trends to make money. If these guys started paying and heavily promoting book worms to make rap records, SAT scores in inner city schools would see a steep surge, and rappers like Jeezy would start rapping about Algebra.

Notice that Russell Simmons was left out of that generalization of people with power. Whenever someone needs to defend rap, he's put on front street to take the heat. But does he have any real juice? I always assumed that Russell ran shit. I stumbled upon an article recently that calls out the names of the real moguls that run rap. And, you guessed it... only one of them looks like Russell.

Check it out...


With the one possible exception of Percy “Master P” Miller there is no such person as a black Hip Hop mogul. Puffy ain’t one, neither is Andre Harrell, nor Rush(Russell Simmons), nor Andre “Dr Dre” Young, and Marion “Suge” Knight especially was never a mogul. Neither is Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, his ex-sidekick Damon Dash, or Jermaine Dupri or even Bob Johnson. All these folks might be rich, but they sure are no moguls.

Now Jack Warner, he was a mogul. Ahmed Ertegun, that was a (mini) mogul. David Geffen is a mogul.So is there such a thing as a Hip Hop mogul? Of course, there are quite a few of them. Here’s the list: Clive Davis, Rick Rubin, Lyor Cohen, Steve Gottlieb, Jimmy Iovine, Ted Fields, Doug Morris, Mel Lewinter, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Sumner Redstone, Percy Miller. Then there’s the Hip Hop ueber-mogul, attorney Paul Schindler, and his sidekick, business manager Burt Padell.

Ok. So what about the black record industry pioneers of Hip Hop. Any there? Well, maybe Sylvia Robinson in the late 1970’s, but that was over in a heartbeat. The real Hip Hop record pioneers? There you have them: William Socolov, Arthur Russell (Sleeping Bag Records), Rick Rubin (Def Jam Recordings), Steve Plotniki and Corey Robbins (Profile Records), Jerry Allen (BDP Records), Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy Records), maybe even Hiroshi Matsuo (Pallas Records). None of them black, one is Japanese. Oh, and let’s not forget Arthur Baker (Fat Boys), and the late Steve Salem.

And no no no. Russell Simmons did not co-found Def Jam. Nor did he ever run Def Jam. Rick Rubin ran Def Jam. Later Lyor Cohen ran Def Jam. Nor did Russell ever sign Def Jam’s big acts. LL Cool J? Rick Rubin. The Beastie Boys? Rick Rubin. Public Enemy? Rick Rubin. Oran “Juice” Jones? Lyor Cohen. So what was Russell’s claim to fame? Simple, Rush is the house that Joey built. Russell is Joey “Run” Simmons’ brother. That Rev. Run (oh, boy "Rev." Now, that's a whole other story) of Run-DMC fame. That’s what made Rick Rubin decide to open the door for Russell.

Ah, but Run-DMC. Now that’s a black owned and controlled group!?!? Nope. Produced by: Rick Rubin. Record company: Profile Records, (Cory Robbins and Steve Plotniki). Management: Rush Artist Management run by…Lyor Cohen. Publicist: Bill Adler. Black? Nope, nice guy, but absolutely not black.Ok, their attorneys were black. Right? Nope. Grubman, Indursky and Schindler. Not black. Black business management? Nope Burt Padell. Not black.Then, … ah, but, but, but at least their booking agents were black, right? Naw. Norby Walters (aka Norby Meyers), Cara Lewis, not black. (Cara, being a red head, is definitely not black). Public Enemy, in their heyday? Record Company: Def Jam. Not black. Rush Management, not black, Norby Walters Agency, Pyramid Agency, William Morris Agency, (Cara Lewis) not black. Publicist: Bill Adler.BDP (Scott la Rock, Kris Parker and Scottie Morris), Record Company: BDP Records: Not black. Attorney (Jay Kramer), not black, management (Jay Kramer), not black.

On another note, people forget that Master P REALLY is a master.
First rapper to own 100% of his Masters
First and only rapper/CEO to receive 85% of profits in a major deal
Has sold 75 million records as an independent CEO
First rapper to be worth over $100 million
First rapper to be worth over $300 million
Suffice it to say he is one SMART COOKIE! Neither Jay, Diddy, nor Russell have accomplished those BY THEMSELVES!


Andrew The Asshole said...

I think wrote an article "Think and Grow Rich" on this blog that asked you to wake the fuck up!!!

Even master P is worth 1/5th of what Oprah is and she is at the bottom of the list of people who run shit. I really wish Black people would stop playing victims and learn how power is distributed in America.

Get out of the Matrix

Brandon said...

Easy, Asshole... easy. We're taking about apples and oranges here. You're talking about acquiring wealth and I'm talking about pointing out the people that CURRENTLY have the means and power to make change TODAY. I'm very aware that power is distributed amongst those that aren't necessarily in the public eye. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad too, homey. *snare drum roll--I'm here ALL week folks!*

HOWEVER... does that mean that I have to necessarily be wealthy before a change can be made on THIS issue? Do I, personally, have to be on this list or be 7/12 of Bill Gates worth before Lyor Cohen will stop funding Jay-Z to stop funding Young Jeezy?

At the end of the day, these "ghosts" that we're talking about are motivated by money. They could care less about how destructive it is to a community--UNLESS it cuts into their bottom line. With sales declining and this current hailstorm of controversy, now is as good a time as any to continue to press the issue whether it be through Oprah's Townhall meetings or Al "Pretty Perm" Sharpton.

Who ever thought we'd see the day that Russell Simmons started denouncing the very thing that made him rich? That in itself is an indication that his wealthy bosses have been affected. Believe it or not, when united, there IS power in the powerless.

Andrew The Asshole said...

B you are a Bad Boy of Comedy!!!

Black people haven't united since they march with MLK in washington. Oh jessey and Al "perm" sharpton will come and rant, but it is just to put black people in the victom role.

Oh yeah we can stop buying the records, but something negative will take its place. Rock at one time was considered very negative and degrading.

Gene said...

"Easy, Asshole... easy."


1) I didn't know that Master P was as successful as he is. And why do we have to always dismiss someone else's success by lifting up another's.

2) If hip hop is being attacked, it's only a matter of time before R&B gets it. But what about all that rock that's negative?

3) Music is mainly RUN and PURCHASED by white males. I repeat, the music industry is mostly HEADED and SUPPORTED by white males.

4) Black people don't NEED to "unite." We need to celebrate our diversity and stop trying to present ourselves as a monolithic group.

Brandon said...

Nah. R&B won't get it. Even though they talk about sex, for the most part, it's not degrading and gratuitous. And plus you'll never hear an R&B artist say "My 9 will leave your brains all over the fuckin' sidewalk" or "I said that must be yo' ass cause it ain't yo face, I need a tip drill."

Don't get it twisted, I listen to all kinds of rap, including the songs like the ones above, but when you turn on videos and listen to the radio and that's ALL they play 24/7 it's hard to imagine that impressionable kids aren't believing the hype.

Me and you know the difference between fiction and non-fiction. We know that most rappers don't live the negative personas that they project. But bad ass kids that are spoon fed negativity get reinforcement of their behavior by listening to the music. Bad ass kids become bad ass adults and we all know about the prison statistics, STD stats, and high pregnancy rates for black people.

It's easy for us to blast them for not pulling themselves up by the bootstaps if we grew up in middle/upper-middle class homes. In a way, they kinda are the victims.

And finally, even though Al and Jesse may "rant," if four black b-ball players from Central were falsely accused of raping a white stripper from Duke, and these guys didn't have the resources to pay millions in lawyer fees, I think Al and Jesse would probably be pretty useful.

Gene said...

"I said that must be yo' ass cause it ain't yo face, I need a tip drill."

Umm, James .... let me introduce you to R. Kelly and T-Pain.

And if black Central dudes raped a white Dookie, they wouldn't need Al and Jesse to do anything else but be their palbearers.

Brandon said...

True... T-Pain's alias IS Teddy Pin-her-ass-down... where do they come up with this stuff?

Gene said...

I also heard that the T stands for Testicular, as in Testicular Pain. Real talk.

Anonymous said...

Got some ignorance for you:

Andrew The Asshole said...

Its entertainment lets all stop being so DAMN sensitive. Go get therapy. Next we are going to regulate movies, writings, painting etc Where do we draw the line?

Andrew The Asshole said...

I run Hip Hop.... BITCHES!!!!!!!!!