Let me start off by reiterating, I am not a prude or an angel. I understand that many people have a "past". Some people can rise above things they have done in their past, and learn from the mistakes. It is another attitude altogether to celebrate your mistakes. This attitude is the genesis of this post.
I subscribe to many music related publications. This assists in my business by keeping me up to date on music trends and other info. One magazine I subscribe to is Blender, which I consider to be a mainstream musical media publication. It is not fringey like say a Rolling Stone or other heavily editorialized magazine.
Now what got my goat growling was an article about rapper and mogul Jay-Z. Jay Z is a former(?) crack dealer, like many current rap stars, who is unabashed in his admitting to his past. Jay-Z has parlayed his talents, his business acumen and music to create a 268 million dollar fortune and enterprise encompassing clothing, and many other various business ventures.
This all may sound like an American success story, and to some extent it probably is. One would think the responsible thing to do would be to talk down the aspect that this success was all funded by crack sales. One would think so, but alas, in article after article about rapper after rapper in mag after mag, the drug sales aspect is glorified proudly by author and subject. This recent Jay-Z article was no different.
Jay-Z recently saw an advance copy of American Gangster, and wrote an album inspired by the movie, because the subject of the movie, Frank Lucas, had such parallel experiences in his life. The new Jay-Z album, American Gangster, is a celebration and a waxing nostalgic of the crack slangin' days. I am not suggesting that rappers or celebrities should be held as role models for the public, and youth. What I am curious about is when it became socially acceptable to admit to being a crack dealer, or a thug or murderer, and be so widely accepted socially without any penalty. We are showing our youth that selling dope IS a socially accepted gateway to the business world. Why would a ghetto youth want to work a 9-5 when he can easily earn exponentially more in a criminal fashion...like his famous heroes have done?
The hip hop community is rife with celebrity who got their start in crime...not allegedly, but admittedly. Many dont leave the life and use their legit avenues of earning as a means to justify what they make in the criminal enterprise. My point is not to do something about THAT per se, I am just ponderous about when all this criminal activity became so socially acceptable that a mainstream publication such as Blender would choose to glorify the lifestyle with no fear of repercussion.
I watch Cribs, MTV, or BET now and again, and I listen to the themes of some of the music in my world, and I just wonder if, where and when it went wrong. Just pick up any publication with an in depth interview with a hip hop hero, and see how long it takes for the article to get to the criminal aspect...
Here is a link to the Blender article where Jay Z is interviewed for his crack selling prowess: