Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Takeoff

If this guy were white…

Most people have no idea what is going on behind the records. Despite the braggadocio, the money flash, the actual life of these rappers is not shown.

You are in danger.

In a shadow economy.

This is rock ‘n’ roll in the old days. A cash deal, but far 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, in America we have a huge incarceration problem that is disproportionately aimed at black men. It’s amazing how so many of these eventually famous rappers go to jail and get out. And those who think racism is passé need to go to the Supreme Court. There are places in Georgia where rappers are on the alert for known white police raids for minor misdemeanors.

As for the pay…

From the outside everything seems simple. There are royalties for record companies and concerts. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are tons of cash gigs, the IRS not only lacks the rich CEOs but also the rappers who are sometimes incredibly rich themselves because of this economy where you show up at a club to rap, and…you can do multiple gigs a 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, quite another to keep it.

And it’s not just the underground economy that’s involved, it’s the Fortune 500. They know rappers have the most credibility with the target audience, let alone popularity, so they do business with them. You used to have to have a string of hits before the corporations called, but now they’re involved from the start.

And so many of the nudes are disposable. And end up back where they came from. It doesn’t matter that many don’t make it.

And while rockers and old-timers are still trying to make sense of the internet, the hip-hop community embraced it from the start. The rappers knew that like a drug dealer, you gotta give to get. They knew it was about the big bucks, not the small ones. Ergo mix tapes. These recordings endeared them to an audience that bonds with them. If you had fans, there was a lot of money later.

and culture.

And the culture involves a lot of posturing and violence.

And white people and the mainstream media may report it, but they don’t denounce it.

That rappers are shot is taken for granted. Why?

Well, we could go to the source and ask why black people don’t have more options. Coscarelli writes about college graduates who end up doing manual work. But affirmative action is taboo because someone could gain an advantage burned into a majority group. I mean, you have to attack the problem at some point.

And to be clear: It’s not what you learn at Harvard or Yale, but the people you meet that become part of your network. JD Vance was a hillbilly until he went to Yale Law School, formed connections, worked with Peter Thiel, and eventually wrote a warped book that he used as a platform to run for the Ohio State Senate. Where is the accompanying advantage for black people?

Believe me, the upper middle class knows all the tricks. But even the middle class has no idea that the top educational institutes are used blindly, and anyone who comes in and is broke doesn’t have to pay a cent.

The American information gap, right there.

So think of all the people who benefit from rap. The white-run labels, the TV and streaming companies, the Fortune 500 mentioned above, but none of them lift a finger to confront the violence in the culture, they don’t even bother to denounce it.

It is racism incarnate.

As for George Floyd… All the companies that have come out in support of black people… that was then and that is now, the bottom line is far from great, it’s the same as it’s always been.

So if a white rapper was shot, there would be headlines about his family, their devastation. And there would be investigative articles in the media asking how that could have happened. How this staid citizen from a good family was wiped out. Yes, they would icing the background of the deceased, ever read an obituary saying the person was an arrogant punk?

And all government leaders would come together and talk about taking action.

Meanwhile, where are the stories about Takeoff’s family? Where is the deep insight into his past life?

AND WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE!

We can start with gun control… But this seems to be going the other way. I would think twice about moving to Texas where anyone can carry a gun without a permit. You rave to me all day about the supposed economic benefits, 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. Yes, that’s how they see it, black people are takers, always wanting more, the government needs to stop supporting them.

While they’re at it, why don’t they siphon off all that money the government is disproportionately giving to the red states, huh?

And an advanced society pays attention to those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. In most western countries. But welfare was hampered during the Clinton administration, and the notion that black women only have babies and are supported by the government is wrong. You believe someone needs to take your money, that you should pay less in taxes, but when there’s a natural disaster, you want federal relief immediately.

Yes, there must be a scapegoat. And the blacks are number one.

Although their schools are below average. The right says there should be a school election to close bad schools, but there is not enough room in good schools for all the disadvantaged! And in truth this is just a ploy to further the cause of religious schools that are not free and if you are not a believer…

And let’s not equate every rapper with Kanye. They’re not that rich and they’re not that crazy. They’re just trying to survive.

So we have to get the guns off the street. Enough of throwing our hands in the air. If your kid gets shot you’ll freak out, how about 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, just to survive. And with the police ineffective, the gangs and others are taking the law into their own hands. And since the odds are slim, kids trafficking in drugs for a quick buck, I mean, how long are they going to live anyway?

That’s what amazed me in Hoop Dreams. They had a big birthday party for the player because turning eighteen is such an achievement. Do we feel the same as white people? That just staying alive is something to celebrate?

And often they find the perpetrators of this violence and imprison them, but that’s not very deterrent because they think they don’t have a great future in the first place. And honor and image is everything, as if we live in the feudal past.

All of these talent agencies and apparel makers can dump Kanye like he’s hot, but how about dumping those involved in violence? Believe me if you take away the few opportunities it will change the culture.

As for the clubs and the strippers and making it rain…

Anyone can choose how they want to live their life, but we shower these great athletes with money they can’t spend and then they screw up and end up broke and eventually die of CTE. But the players are disposable, just like the rappers. Hell, most players in the NFL don’t even have guaranteed contracts! Injure yourself and you’re out. we don’t care about you Life is hard. Meanwhile, as a bad actor, the billionaire owner rapes and plunders not only in business but also in his personal life.

This is a way of demonstrating your status by making money and spending it.

The truth is, TikTok has all these videos that are about money, the economics of buying a new car, and investing. They may be seen by junior staff, but we don’t even teach economics in school, otherwise the salespeople wouldn’t be able to dupe that customer. Dollar stores, payday loans… They’re hideous, but when you’re broke sometimes, you don’t have a choice.

Somehow America is flipped and it’s the whites who are disadvantaged. What’s a poor boy supposed to do? Don’t play in a rock ‘n’ roll band, BECOME A RAPPER! It’s one of the few potentially high-paying jobs for underprivileged youth, aside from the drug deal.

But we demonize these people by profiting from their backs.

Come on, black people punch way above their weight when it comes to culture. And unfortunately, this culture of gun violence affects not only them, but white people as well, BECAUSE IT IS CONSIDERED COOL!

Let me tell you, when you’re dead, nothing’s cool. Finally. It’s over. The challenge is to stay alive. Heck, the government should give every rapper who makes it to forty a million bucks. Even better, a guaranteed income for everyone, including black people.

But nobody wants to pay for it! I don’t understand, do 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 accordion wire.

You think you’re immune, but you’re not. We live in a big society. And you are part of it, and you are vulnerable. If you do not take care of your brothers and sisters, pick them up, it will affect you negatively.

But then there are all these executives who say they made their billions who don’t acknowledge that without customers they would have NOTHING!

Consumers are king. But our society doesn’t see it that way. We worship the rich and criticize the poor and ignore what’s on their minds.

And when it comes to hip-hop, it’s all about creativity. They don’t make it to the top by accident. So why can’t we recognize that, except at awards ceremonies that nobody sees anyway?

Admittedly, everything fades almost instantly these days. But after Takeoff’s death, I haven’t seen a single voted official comment on it. I didn’t see any outcry. At best, there was a shrug.

And that’s not okay.

Something must give. And if you don’t address the underlying problem, it will affect you.

Come on, isn’t anyone outraged that this guy got shot?

I do not think so.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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