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!