Black People : THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF BLACK MUSIC

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Isaiah, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The Political Economy of Black Music
    By Norman Kelley Noire, Summer 1999

    No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized.
    --Booker T. Washington

    Black culture is too significant in American culture for blacks to be glorified employees.
    --Russell Simmons, Def Jam Records


    If there is an East Coast/West Coast rivalry over the control of hip hop, it is not unlike the "rumble in the jungle" that recently took place in the former Zaire. Like the situation in the re-christened Congo, where American and European interests are occluded by the media, masked as "humanitarian," the control of black music by the corporate entertainment industry is never highlighted. The six major record firms have a colonial-like relationship with the black Rhythm Nation of America that produces hip hop and other forms of black music. Despite the names of a few big money makers - Suge Knight, Sean Combs, and Russell Simmons - or the lurid deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (also known as Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls), rap, like most black music, is under the corporate control of whites and purchased mostly by white youths.

    No better example of how black artists are colonized by white recording companies - aided and abetted by blacks - than the case of Tupac Shakur. Originally on contract to Interscope, founded by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Fields, heir to the Marshall Fields fortune, Tupac was "handed over" to Death Row Record's Marion (Suge) Knight when the enfant terrible of rap was in a New York State penitentiary. While Death Row Records was the creation of Dr. Dre and Knight, it practically owned its existence to Interscope (and some say to a drug dealer named Michael "Harry-O" Harris). Desperate to get out of jail, Tupac signed an onerous agreement with Death Row that made David Kenner, Death Row's counsel, his counsel and manager, a direct and unmistakable conflict of interest. Tupac, according to Connie Bruck in her July 7 New Yorker article, "The Takedown of Tupac," was trying to extricate himself from Death Row but was killed. Now Interscope is willing to intercede on behalf of Tupac's estate, represented by his mother, Afeni, because it might come under scrutiny and its relationship with Death Row, currently under investigation by state and federal authorities for possible racketeering, exposed.

    Black music exists in a neo-colonial relationship with the $12 billion music industry, which consist of six record companies: Warner Elektra Atlantic (WEA), Polygram, MCA Music Entertainment, BMG Distribution, Sony Music Entertainment, and CEMA/UNI Distribution. These firms, according to New York's Daily News, "supply retailers with 90% of the music" that the public purchases (rap accounts for 8.9% of the total, over $1 billion in 1996; these firms are currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for price-fixing CDs ). While there are black- owned production companies like Uptown Records, Bad Boy Entertainment, La Face Records, Def Jam, and Death Row, which make millions, these black-owned companies do not control a key component of the music making nexus, namely distribution, and they respond to the major labels' demand for a marketable product. In turn, the major labels respond to a young white audience that purchases 66% of rap music, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as reported by the Daily News. But the music industry's dependence on alternative music has led to flat sales and the only growth has been, once again, black music in the cultural form of rap. Rap is still on the move. For example, Lil' Kim, a protege of the late Christopher Wallace, has sold 500,000 units of her raunchy Hardcore. While Scarface has sold over 160,000 of his The Untouchable - without radio airplay.

    The relationship between black music and the "Big Six" is a post-modern form of colonialism. In classic colonialism (or neo-colonialism) products were produced in a "raw periphery" and sent back to the imperial "motherland" to be finished into commodities, sold in the metropolitan centers or back to the colonies, with the result being that the colony's economic growth was stunted because it was denied its ability to engage in manufacturing products for it own needs and for export. Blacks in the inner cities, if not as an aggregate, share some of the classic characteristics of a colony: lower per capita income; high birth rate; high infant mortality rate; a small or weak middle class; low rate of capital formation and domestic savings; economic dependence on external markets; labor as a major export; a tremendous demand for commodities produced by the colony but consumed by wealthier nations; most of the land and business are owned by foreigners. With rap, the inner cities have become the raw sites of "cultural production" and the music then sold to the suburbs, to white youths who claim they can "relate" to those of the urban bantustans. If there is indeed a struggle for the control of rap, it is merely a battle between black gnats, for the war for the control of black music had been won many years ago by corporate America, aided and abetted by black leadership that has never understood the cultural and economic significance of its own culture.



    FOR THE REST OF THIS VERY LONG 1999 ARTICLE, CLICK THE WEB ADDRESS BELOW...


    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/358.html
     
  2. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Excellent post!

    :welldone:
     
  3. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother Omowale, this is where the discussion of Black Music draws a blank on many of our faces... If we understood the imperative we have to TAKE OVER this industry, which uses our culture as if the OWNED it, then we wouldn't have to go through the middle man to get better messages from our artists... I have, in the last 20 years wondered how in hell we've allowed White man to so thouroughly control our cultural product, and concluded that it is our laziness, our lack of vision, that allows for it... We want the fruit, but we don't want to tend the plantation...


    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  4. Dual Karnayn

    Dual Karnayn Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I don't know abot the political economy, but I can tell you about the politics...

    The entire "industry" is so predictable it's ridiculous.

    I already know what will and won't sell by how ridiculous the people sound and how crazy and disgraceful the music is.


    Hiphop used to be entertainment, but now it's a tool used to further destroy our community.

    It went from entertaining and politically motivating music to, "gangsta" and "lewd" music that helped to strip and entire generation of youth of thier morality and sense of shame.

    Back in 1983 you couldn't convince a young Black man that being a "gangsta" or "thug" was cool.
    He would have looked at you like you were out of your mind.

    "Glorifying violence.....that's some Satan worshipping white folks sh*t"


    But after NWA, Ice Cube, The Chronic, and other artists and hit albums we were on our way.


    Now they're working on stripping us of our civility all together with "crunk" and this "gorilla unit" crap.

    Instead of short clean hair cuts and fresh colorful clothes we donned during the golden age of hiphop, now check out the young people rocking up and down the street with thier hair grown out wild and bushy...or braided up....with white t-shirts on like dresses and baggy pants nearly to thier ankles.


    No more Kool Moe Deez with educated witty concious rhymes even Europeans and Japanese had to bow down and pay homage to.
    Now we're forced to listen to some mumble mouth crap from Lil' John or the Bone Crusher about "up in da club".
    Even Africans and other Black people have to look at eachother in amazement at how degenerate our this music has become.
     
  5. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Well bruh isayuh,

    u kno' dat folks don gone big cityfied and dont wanna git no paws durty cuz it means plowin' up dem weeds and plantin' nu seeds but most folk ju' wanna eat dat eze frut from sum1 else's labors.

    we jus' wanna floss and gloss and bling while livin' in da city like da jones in a big crib like p-dibby and dem otha bad boyz but and got no sight ta see need for distributin our own product wit cultural integriddy so we leave it up ta massa..

    its ok to make 18 or 50 cents offa dollar an let da man make da rest den charge us haff of dat fiddy cent for studio cost cuz at least bruh can front like he a balla..
     
  6. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I don't necessarily disagree with you, brother Dual, but rather than us ranting on it, we need to find the path to taking over the industry...

    Like the Japanese did some 40 years ago, we need to plot a course that would return our culture to our control, and not only that, we need to take over control of many of their industries... If TOYOTA can, now, be called the company which manufactures more automobiles than any car manufacturer in the world, and do it on American soil, why cannot African people seize control of our own cultural product??? All that is required is a plan of action, and the will to do it... There are no excuses either, because the Japanese have already shown us that it can be done...



    Peace!
    isaiah
     
  7. Dual Karnayn

    Dual Karnayn Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Isaiah

    You're not gonna admit to agreeing with me either...lol.

    I understand.





    Perhaps too many of us are stuck in a slave culture where we embrace self-destructive values such as improper speech, poor diet, and religion that does nothing for us.


    In my opinion, we must first decide what IS right and wrong in our community and set some standards like the Japanese did.

    Japan and most other nations have an established culture that seldom changes. They have a set language, set diet, set family values and they last for centuries unshakable.

    Our culture and traditions seem to change with the wind and are constantly evolving with every generations. This either the CAUSE of the great divide between the older generation and younger generation or the RESULT of it.

    Regardless, we need to have some stability in our culture and not allow some things to enter it such as glorification of violence, mysogenistic music, associating ourselves with "dogs" or "gorillas", and glorifying criminality.

    These things should never be tolerated regardless of which generation tries to introduce it.
     
  8. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother, stop yo trippin', man! Put your ego in your pocket, it's unbecoming...

    I agreed with you in MY WAY, understand, comprende, capish??? Accept it or leave it alone...

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  9. Dual Karnayn

    Dual Karnayn Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Isaiah

    Lol....

    Yes, I understand that you have to ignore the good points I raise and dwell on those you disagree with.

    It's all good though.

    Brother Isaiah, your disagreements with me sometimes remind me of those Republicans who consistantly vote against their own interests for the sake of party loyalty.
     
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