Note: This is part of an ongoing series breaking down the truth behind hip-hop's smoke and mirrors financial game. For previous entries, click here.)
While a lot of folks have enjoyed my Your Favorite Rapper is Poor series, some people have hated it, those people mostly being those rappers who I'm slowly but surely revealing are broker than MC Hammer. If I could sum up their responses in one sentence, it'd be: "If I'm poor, then how could I own this (insert picture of diamond chain, Bentley, etc.)?" Easy my man, free shit.
For simplicities sake, let's return to my imaginary rapper MC Wannabe, the rapper who had his single "I Wanna Be Rich" blow up and now finds himself a very famous (though completely broke) rapper.
It's one of the cruel ironies in life that the richer, or at least the more famous, you are, the more shit you get for free. Clothing labels who'd love nothing more than the free press they'd get from MC Wannabe rocking their shirt on the red carpet (or TMZ) send free clothes by the caseload. Jewelers are more than happy to throw together a free diamond-encrusted chain for Wannabe on the condition that he tells all the other wanna-bes who covet his chain where he got it. In the end, these retailers will make far more money from all the saps who see MC Wannabe and spend real dollars to be like him than they'll lose from giving away some free diamonds.
The clearest example has to be that oh-so-popular rap phenomenon, bottle popping. Clubs love when famous people, especially famous rappers, visit their joints. So MC Wannabe shows up at Club Banger and he's immediately escorted to the VIP section and promised he'll have all the champagne he and his entourage can drink. (He'll later rap about buying the bar out, but that's just because rhyming about a drooling club promoter offer free bottle service just doesn't sound as cool.) Why would the club give away so much free booze? Because they know there are more than a few dudes in the club who will look at MC Wannabe, want to prove they're high rollers too, and try to outspend Wannabe. Of course what they don't know is Wannabe's not paying a dime, but that won't stop them from throwing down a $10,000 bar tab, and then wondering how they're going to pay their rent later that month.
As long as we're here, I should also mentioned a lot of the shit you see rappers wearing/driving isn't free, it's just rented. Why actually buy a $180,000 Bentley when you can rent one for $3,000, do a video and have everyone assume you actually own it. But that's assuming you can even pay the rental fee. Case in point Nicki Minaj, who's currently being sued because she still owes approximately $15,000 for the pink Lamborghini she rented (and damaged) for her "Massive Attack" video. “Which bitch you know made a million off a mixtape?" I think by this point we all know just how unlikely it is that Nicki actually made a million off a mixtape. A million dollar advance? Maybe - but however much she has in her bank account, it's not enough to make a paying 15 grand in rental fees a small deal.
Free shit is just one of the many very real perks that come with stardom, and rappers have every right to enjoy them. But it's crucial to know that, like so much in hip-hop, the extraordinary material wealth they appear to have is just that, an appearance. An illusion; an illusion that sadly thousands of aspiring rappers go broke trying to make materialize.
I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.
I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody's feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.
I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.
I Truly am Hurt By The Loss Of Guru. He Played A Large Influence on My Music and Art Form. What He Contributed to Hip Hop From Beginning to End Will Be Unmatched. My Heart and Condolences Go Out to His Family and Friends He Will Truly Be Missed. But His Music Forever Enjoyed. RIP From Lord Caperell (Artist/Fan)
Method Man Apologizes To Waka Flocka Flames By Bill Johnson March 1, 2010 1:42 p
After going on a bit of a tirade in regards to a statement made by Waka Flocka Flames, Method Man apologized to Waka saying that his comments were taken out of context and not directed at Waka personally.
“[My statement] wasn’t about that man or what that man do. It was about the statement [Waka made],” Meth detailed. “I don’t even know that man to feel any type of way about that man….Anybody trying to eat legally and get their money the way I try to get mines, and ain’t never gonna knock them, man. That’s the last time I say anything about any fu**ing emcee or what they do. I’m going to keep my business to myself.”
Kudos to both Method Man and Waka Flocka Flames for handling this situation like real men and not letting this blow up into some sort of unnecessary beef!
Hear The Audio!
Busta Rhymes may be known for his lively stage persona, but the Flipmode Squad leader has put his energy towards a different cause by supporting former Universal/Motown Records music executive Shanti Das’ efforts to bury unclaimed deceased residents of Detroit. Rhymes, along with R&B hitmaker Akon, were among the artists who helped Das raise more than $20,000 for May We Rest in Peace, a recently launched initiative designed to aid those who cannot afford to properly lay their loved ones to rest date, the nonprofit organization has been able to cover 20 burials in Detroit in its first two months of existence.
May We Rest in Peace resulted from Das’ desire to help the city of Detroit after reading a CNN Money story about the location’s struggle to handle it’s growing number of unclaimed bodies. The story, which came out in October, highlighted Detroit’s economic hardship as it noted the increasing number of unclaimed bodies piling up in the city’s morgue freezer, some of whom have been dead for up to five years. Realizing the financial challenge for loved ones as well as her own experience of paying to bury deceased family members, Das launched May We Rest in October. While she is not from Detroit, the music executive found a common thread with which to create her organization. Shanti Das Stated; “What if it was my mother, father, or loved one lying there in the morgue and I couldn’t afford to properly lay them to rest?” Das explained. “There were just a lot of things that hit home for me, and I just wanted to immediately take action.” Within weeks of starting May We Rest, Das provided burials for six of Detroit’s unclaimed deceased amid raising $6,000 via early support from family, friends and loved ones as well as donors such as Rhymes, Akon and the Kid Rock Foundation in the name of Detroit Clothing Company. The support of the entertainers and the community has impacted the number of unburied bodies in Detroit, which is now down to 50.
Make sure you check out the latest news on Busta Rhymes at: www.myspace.com/bustarhymes and Akon at: www.myspace.com/akon
Chris Brown: “Oprah Stabbed Me In The Back”
Vibe Magazine is relaunching with two covers for their December/January issue. Drake graces one cover, and Chris Brown graces the other.
Chris Brown granted an exclusive, and rather juicy interview where he goes off on Oprah Winfrey.
I didn’t get a call from them or anything. I felt embarrassed, but at the same time I felt stabbed in the back. Ok, Oprah you have so much power and people really listen to what you say. You don’t know anything that went down and you jump to conclusions and start bringing people on the set that have no similarities to me other than a domestic dispute. And then compare them to me when she’s around me and knows me. She could have called me and been like, “Chris, let me get you on my show and I’m going to do this kind of segment.”
Chris Breezy also had something to say about the BET Awards.
It was wack. I’ll keep it a hundred. The BET Awards was horrible. I was watching it, holding my face like, ‘Oh my God this is wack’. I didn’t get it. Michael Jackson was such a big entertainer. And I’m not dissing any of the artists who did the songs. But I was expecting a lot more energy for Michael. And BET Awards usually comes hard. I was expecting them to have Usher, Omarion and even Justin. And I was expecting Ne-Yo to dance. They were so bent on not getting me there that they messed up their own show.
click here to see it all: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=101147500
EXCLUSIVE AUDIO: DJ Drama, Young Jeezy & Gucci Mane End Beef! By Jerry Barrow, Senior Editor December 3, 2009 11:06 pm Tonight on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 FM the music industry received some much needed good news and positive vibes. As previously reported Gucci Mane, DJ Drama and Young Jeezy have ended their respective feuds. Listen to the men talk through their issues and make big plans for 2010 on Drama’s Gangsta Grillz radio show. “This is a big moment in hip-hop right here. A big day for the culture and a big day for the city of Atlanta. “– DJ Drama Click Here: http://theurbandaily.com/music/exclusive-audio-dj-drama-young-jeezy-gucci-mane-end-beef1/
Snoop Dogg was recently on DJ Green Lantern’s satellite radio show and had a lot to say about gangs, and why the east coast and west coast are losing and why the south is winning when it comes to hip-hop. Snoop also mentions the forthcoming 213 record with Nate Dogg & Warren G, and says the same things about Dr. Dre’s Detox that everyone else associated with the project has said for years. Definitely an interesting clip! continued at www.reverbnation.com/lordcaperell in blog section http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCtEr_d1Wso&feature=player_embedded
Pastor Justin Cox had some problems with Jay-Z’s lyrics on “Empire State Of Mind.” He thinks Jay–Z is dissing Jesus and is an Anti-Christ for these lyrics Hail Mary to the city your a Virgin, and Jesus can’t save you life starts when the church ends. Check out what he had to say. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dApiC2-l04&feature=player_embedded