*Dear music & television industry executives and politicians, my column today is intended to “expose and educate.” After reading this article, please check your “Moral Compass.”
Want a major label recording contract? A couple of hundred grand to do your debut album? Well, to save time, I can give you a “heads up” on what you and your manager need to bring to the major label creative director who is considering adding you to their roster:
- Your “G.A.C.” or “Gang Affiliation Card”
- Your “Arrest Record”
- Your “Mug Shot Photos”
- Your “Prison Paperwork” showing the authenticity of your crimes
- Your “list of Baby Mama’s who are suing you for child support”
- Your “List of Homies from the hood you abandoned” when you came up
- Your “Enemies” ( please keep the list under 1000 names )
- Your “Friends” ( Scratch that…You have none )
- Your “V.D.C.C.” information ( Verifiable Drug Connection Card )
- Your “P.R.D.A.R.D.” Information ( Projected Retirement Date And Return Date )
All because you “love Rap Music and couldn’t stay away”
Want to establish a major career in Television and Films?
Females, please bring the following item:
- Sex Tape ( For White women, Please employ Black Male counterpart )
Please note that there are “No Other Requirements” needed to apply to have a Television career. As sad as the information is that I have laid out for you, that is the reality of where we are in entertainment and the executives in Music and Television are to blame and need to stop talking about “any morals clauses in contracts” for the artists they do business with. “Morals?” Most executives have none! Just admit it! We know the truth!
I came into the Rap Music game after working as an executive in the field of R&B Music for many years and I immediately learned what was acceptable and unacceptable in Rap Music if you wanted to build a successful label and artist roster.
Because everything in music is “image driven”, I was informed and educated by several Rap Music executives I worked with in the beginning that the quickest way for your Rap artist to “Fail” in the marketplace was for them to catch the dreaded “Teeth Disease”
The “Teeth Disease” catches Rap artists by surprise and before they know it, their music is no longer being played on the radio and the youth of America have turned away from them. The “Teeth Disease” occurs when a Gangsta Rapper “smiles and shows his teeth”
letting his fans know “he has feelings” and therefore destroying any chance of going Platinum in the marketplace. All top tier Rap artists and managers know this fact. I was told to “get on board with the program” and give the people what they want because its the nature of the business.
As far as radio is concerned, because of all the “Crap” the stations play on a daily basis where the artists talk about their gang affiliations and their drug tales and sales, these stations and their parent companies should open up their purse strings in a major way to help combat the crimes in their respective cities which “they help to promote” by giving this airtime to “Frauds” who would crumble like a paper bag if they ever were dealing in the “real drug and gang underworld”
And to the Major Label executives who “think” they can hook up with “One Shot Caller” in a particular city and be “protected” as they build their music careers, well you better think again my friend, because one thing I do know is that there is no one person in Chicago, Los Angeles or New York that can cover all those bases in their particular city. You are being lied to!
I spent the last 16 years on the streets of Chicago, Compton, Watts and South Central Los Angeles dealing in the Rap game and living on a daily basis with numerous shot callers in both the Piru and Crip organizations in Los Angeles and with Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and Black P Stones in Chicago understanding the mind sets of these young men and why they do what they do.
Overwhelmingly, it all comes down to the chance to make some money and to have a way “out of the lifestyle” they have unfortunately been attached to for so many years.
Many of these young men turn to the Rap game to try to launch a new life and business,
but when they enter the Music industry, they find out that it’s “worse than the streets”
and become dismayed with all the back stabbing going on. To them it seems that nothing ever changes in the pursuit of money and fame except the names of the players on each team. Gangsterism just keeps rolling on!
I was speaking yesterday with a high ranking member of a faction of Chicago’s Gangster Disciples and I asked him what he felt were the reasons for the upswing in violence in the city of Chicago and he said in his opinion there were three reasons:
- The majority of gang shootings are committed when the gang members are high on a combination of “Molly’s, Weed and Alcohol” and are basically temporarily out of their minds and acting in ways they normally wouldn’t act if they were alone.
- There is no structure in the streets anymore.
- Numerous gang factions are sets of young men who are pushing various artists from their respective neighborhoods, trying to establish Rap careers and Rap Music labels and they taunt rivals to build their “reputation” on the Internet.
These young men in most cases have limited outlets for finding employment and see the record industry as a viable way out of the madness in their lives. They also know that being a “Hard Core Artist” is a quicker way to fame and money than rapping about “something positive” in their music. They know the Major labels want the “Gangsterism” and they amp themselves and their crews up to give the Music executives what they need to “compete in the marketplace” and are usually involved in some sort of physical altercation where the public can view their ignorance on a wide platform. Now tell me, if the Major labels had a policy of “Zero Tolerance” for gang membership and drug dealing, do you think these young men would pursue that road in the record business?
Most likely not. But in reality we all know that in todays marketplace “crime and violence does pay” so on we march with the perpetuation of negativity!
Think about it, the lawyers, judges, court reporters, prisons, jails, law enforcement agencies, casket makers, funeral parlors, flower companies, T shirt companies, food outlets who supply food for after funeral gatherings, construction companies and numerous other businesses make big money off of murder and serious crime! Do you really feel that the law enforcement agencies are helpless to stop this carnage?
Stop fooling yourself. They could reduce this violence by 90% in one year if they wanted to by offering people “jobs, training and classes to improve their “life skills” but that is not in the picture at this point and time.
What would I do to help fight this problem? Simple.
Its a fact that the U.S. Spends over $10 Billion per month to fight our conflicts abroad.
That amounts to $120 Billion per year. So, why don’t we take 20% of that money allocated for ‘War” ( $24 Billion ) and spread that out to the top 20 cities in the U.S. that are experiencing gang problems and an upswing in other violent crimes. That money would be used for jobs, job training, and life skills classes. In my humble opinion, these cities would see a drastic reduction in crime if you pumped over $1 Billion into each of these impoverished areas. Plus, it would stimulate the economy.
So once again, please stop having these “go nowhere discussions” and conferences where the participants advocate doing “studies” to determine “what we can do to reduce the violence” and talk about some real solutions and plans where we can bring some much needed “Green Paper Opportunities” to the impoverished areas across America. No more signs and placards calling for justice. How about some “Real Action”
How about adjusting the lyrics in Rap and stop the major labels from handing out money for the promotion of “violence”
Why don’t we in the Music industry who have access to budgets and power at radio give a shot to the artists who “don’t support taking Molly’s and who don’t support or advocate gang membership and the moving of keys of Cocaine” ( See Kendrick Lamar )
In closing, I would hope that those of you in positions of power within the Music and Television industries, would step back and take a look at what you are doing to play your part in trying to reverse this negative trend in music and on television. I am not speaking to you to do something that “I didn’t do in my own business life”.
I “was” a major player in this ignorant game of “musical gangsterism” but as time passed I came to understand that we were all on a course for destruction and that the major music companies and television entities are just financing our demise and the destruction of Hip Hop as a whole. The “suits” don’t care about the culture or “You” as a person no matter what position you play in this game. All they want to do is make money and drive to the suburbs to avoid the violence and ignorance that they finance. The difference between me and the other executives is that “I changed my focus and decided not to play in a crooked game anymore that was spreading negativity”
Maybe in the near future the decision makers at these major entertainment companies will step back and look at what they are financing and the damage it is doing and revamp their business approach to making money. As intelligent people know, “all money is not good money”
Stan Sheppard can be reached by email at: [email protected]