Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Takeoff
If this guy was white…
Most people have no idea what’s going on behind the discs. Despite the bluster, the silver flash, the real life of these rappers is not depicted.
They are in danger.
In an underground economy.
It’s the rock and roll of old. A cash business, but much more dangerous.
Not that I knew that much until I read Joe Coscarelli’s book, “Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story”: https://amzn.to/3Ns7PMl and spoke to him for the podcast: https ://bit.ly/3haAadK
First, we have a huge incarceration problem in America, which disproportionately targets black men. It’s amazing how many of these eventually famous rappers go in and out of prison. And if you think racism is outdated, you need to be on the Supreme Court. There are places in Georgia where rappers are on their toes due to notorious white police crackdowns on petty crimes.
As for the pay…
Everything looks simple from the outside. There are record company royalties and concerts. But it’s much more complicated than that. There’s tons of cash gigs the IRS not only misses rich CEOs but also rappers, who themselves are sometimes incredibly rich because of this economy, where you show up at a club to rap for follow and… you can do several concerts per night. That’s another amazing thing about Coscarelli’s book, how rich some of these rappers are.
Not that a career is guaranteed. It’s one thing to have a hit, it’s another to maintain it.
And it’s not just the underground economy that’s involved, but also the Fortune 500. They know that rappers have the most credibility, not to mention popularity, with the target audience, so they go into business with them. . It used to be that you had to have a certain number of visits before companies called you, but now they’re involved from the start.
And so many acts are disposable. And find themselves where they come from. Never mind the fact that many do not.
And while rockers and old swaggers are still trying to figure out the internet, it was embraced by the hip-hop community right from the start. Rappers knew that you had to give to receive, like a drug dealer. They knew it was about getting the big money, not the little one. Ergonomic Mixtapes. These recordings endeared them to an audience that bonded with them. There was a lot of money on the road, if you had fans.
And, culture involves a lot of posturing and violence.
And white people and the mainstream media might report it, but they don’t denounce it.
It’s taken for granted that rappers get shot. Why?
Well, we could go to the source and ask why black people don’t have more opportunities. Coscarelli writes about college graduates who end up doing manual labor. But affirmative action is taboo, because someone might gain an advantage that has been incorporated into a majority group. I mean you have to attack the problem at some point.
And let’s be clear, it’s not what you learn at Harvard or Yale, it’s the people you meet, who are part of your network. JD Vance was a hick until he went to Yale Law School, built relationships, worked with Peter Thiel, and ended up writing a twisted book he used as a platform to run for Senate from Ohio. Where is the concomitant advantage for blacks?
Believe me, the upper middle class knows all the tricks. But even the middle class has no idea, that the best educational institutions are blind to need, and if you can get in and you’re broke, you don’t have to pay a dime.
America’s information deficit, right there.
So think of all the people who profit from rapping. White-run labels, TV and streaming companies, the aforementioned Fortune 500, but none of them lift a finger to counter the violence in the culture, they don’t even bother to speak out against it.
This is racism incarnate.
As for George Floyd… All the companies that have supported black people… that was then and this is now, the end result is far from major, it’s the same as ever.
So if a white rapper had been shot, there would have been front-page stories about his family, their devastation. And there would be investigative articles in the media asking how this could happen. How this honest citizen of good family got suffocated. Yeah, they were coating the background of the deceased, were they reading an obituary where they said the person was an arrogant punk?
And all the government leaders would come together and talk about action.
Meanwhile, where are the stories about Takeoff’s family? Where is the deep dive into his past life?
AND WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE!
We can start with gun control… But it seems to go the other way. I would think twice before moving to Texas, where anyone can carry a gun without a license. Rave me about the supposed economic benefits all day long, they don’t mean much when you’re dead.
The truth is that white people and the mainstream community don’t care if another black person dies. Just one less mouth to feed. Yeah, that’s how they see it, that black people are taking it, always wanting more, the government has to stop supporting them.
While they’re at it, why don’t they take out all that money the government disproportionately gives to red states, huh?
And an advanced society watches over those at the bottom of the economic ladder. In most western countries. But welfare was stifled under the Clinton administration and the idea that black women just have babies and are supported by the government is wrong. You think someone should take your money, that you should pay less tax, but when there’s a natural disaster, you want federal help right away.
Yes, there must be a scapegoat. And blacks are number one.
Even if their schools are not up to standard. The right says that you have to choose the school, close the bad schools, only there is not enough room in the good schools for all the disadvantaged! And in truth, it is only a ruse to advance the cause of religious schools, which are not free, and if you are not a believer…
And don’t equate every rapper with Kanye. They’re not that rich and they’re not that crazy. They are just trying to survive.
So we have to take the guns off the streets. Enough of throwing our hands in the air. When your kid gets shot, you go crazy, and someone else’s kid?
And how about a denigration of violence. Why are gangs and violence portrayed as cool? A lot of kids join gangs not because they’re cool, but just to survive. And since the police are ineffective, the gangs and others take the law into their own hands. And since opportunities are scarce, kids sell drugs, for that quick cash, I mean how long are they going to live anyway?
That’s what amazed me in “Hoop Dreams”. They threw a big birthday party for the player because living to be eighteen is such a feat. Do we feel the same as white people? That just staying alive is something to celebrate?
And often they find the perpetrators and lock them up, but that’s not really a deterrent, because they don’t think they have much of a future to begin with. And honor and image are everything, as if we were living in the feudal past.
All those talent agencies and apparel companies can drop Kanye like he’s hot, but how about dropping those involved in violence. Believe me, if you take away the few opportunities, it will change the culture.
As for clubs and strippers and making it rain…
Everyone can choose how they want to live their life but we flood these great athletes with money that they have no education on how to spend and then they blow it up and end up broke and eventually dead with CTE. But gamers are disposable, just like rappers. Hell, most NFL players don’t even have guaranteed contracts! Get hurt and you’re out. We don’t care about you. Life is hard. Meanwhile, the bad actor billionaire owner continues to rape and plunder not only in business, but also in his personal life.
It’s a way to demonstrate your status, by earning money and spending it.
Now, in truth, on TikTok there are all these videos that talk about money, about the economics of buying a new car, about investing. Maybe newcomers will see them, but we don’t even teach economic skills in school, because if we did, salespeople couldn’t laugh at these customers. Dollar stores, payday loans… They’re obnoxious, but if you’re broke, sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Somehow, America has flipped, and it’s white people who are at a disadvantage. What’s a poor boy to do? Don’t play in a rock and roll band, BUT BECOME A RAPPER! It is one of the few potentially well-paying jobs for an underprivileged youth, other than drug dealing.
But we demonize these people, because we take advantage of their backs.
Come on, black people are way above their weight when it comes to culture. And, unfortunately, this culture of gun violence impacts not only them, but also white people, BECAUSE IT’S SEEN TO BE COOL!
Let me tell you, when you’re dead, nothing is cool. Finito. It’s finish. The challenge is to stay alive. Shit, the government should give a million dollars to every rapper who hits 40. Better yet, a guaranteed income for all, including blacks.
But no one wants to PAY FOR IT! I don’t understand, you want to live in Venezuela? I’ve been there, the wealthy people live in the hills in houses surrounded by concrete walls topped with barbed wire.
You think you are immune, but you are not. We live in a big society. And you are part of it, and you are vulnerable. If you don’t take care of your siblings, raise them, it will impact you negatively.
But then you have all those executives who say they’ve made their billions and don’t recognize that without customers they’d have NOTHING!
Consumers are kings. But that’s not how our society sees it. We worship the rich and criticize the poor, ignoring what goes on in their brains.
And when it comes to hip-hop, it’s all about creativity. You don’t get to the top by accident. So why can’t we recognize it, except in award shows that nobody watches anyway?
Certainly, everything fades almost instantly these days. But in the aftermath of Takeoff’s death, I haven’t seen any official elected commentary on it. I didn’t see any outcry. At best, there was a shrug.
And that’s not right.
Something has to give. And if you don’t fix the underlying problem, it will affect you.
Come on, is anyone outraged that this guy was shot?
I suppose not.