I enjoy my fair share of hip-hop just like anyone else (well that’s not entirely true, let me stop lying). Nevertheless, is it just me, or have some artists gone too far with their message of rampant consumerism? While I am not one to bash the whole genre and blame rap music for the demise of an entire generation, I do believe that at some point, as informed consumers we have to stop and ask ourselves, “What the f*ck did he/she just say and how does that ish really pertain to me?” I don’t know about you, but I don’t “ball so hard” and the ish that I particularly find cray is five-dollar gas prices.

If you didn’t notice by my references, the latest rappers to perturb me are Kanye West and Jay Z.

I may be one of the only people who did not purchase, or listen to every song off of the Watch The Throne album. But the two that I have heard–OTIS and the infamous, too often recited N*ggas in Paris–make me want to throw up in my mouth. After barely getting through both songs in their entirety, I thought my head was going to rupture, and I wouldn’t be able to afford my subsequent melt down with the exorbitant cost of health care.

In fact, I kinda find some of this music to be in bad taste, considering the real economic conditions of some of the most ardent Hip-Hop followers. These guys have the problems of the 1%, with concerns such as “spilling ace of spades” on a pair of Jordans. A $1200 bottle of champagne, that cost more than most folks’ rent or mortgage. I’m just saying, the least of the 99% concerns are “Audemars that don’t tick tock” (which can cost as much as $500,000). The sad part is that some of us can recall these lyrics more than we can the debtors we owe.

What frightens me is that, collectively, the world is experiencing an economic crisis, but Black folk are being disproportionately impacted by this fiscal catastrophe. With African-Americans average a net worth of a whopping 20 times lower than whites in this country, (only about $2,000), and one study even finding that the median net worth for Black women is a meager five-dollars, we should really give less than a damn that Kanye West is “about to go dumb again” because he “pulled up in [his] other, other Benz.”

These hip-hop songs boasting of all the material items they have accumulated, and the fabulous gold-plated, diamond-encrusted lives they live is a bit passé. Unfortunately, Americans (and specifically black folks) are the ultimate consumers and eat up every word of this mess up, dying to buy new Louis Vuitton bags (or sneakers), when they receive government assistance, or live a paycheck above the poverty line.

As Yasiin would say, “Poor so hard….that ish cray.”

Am I wrong for putting some of the blame on hip-hop for keeping Black folk in debt, or are their more substantial factors involved?

57 Comments

  1. Rastaman

    Yeah, you are wrong. You would only be right if Black folks indebtedness started 30 years ago or they were anymore indebted than the rest of America. Hip Hop is art whether you care for it or not and art has always imitated life. The values expressed by these artist are reflective of the larger American values. Is it hip hop that would influence someone to borrow $100K to attend a Liberal Arts College to study Anthropology. Not knocking anthropology, interesting subject but would generally qualify as a poor investment of a $100K.

    The truth is our whole society is scarred by rampant consumerism, the messages we see in hip hop culture is reflective of our materialistic values not vice-versa.

    • I totally agree with Rastaman. If you can trace the roots of African American consumerism strictly back to the rise of hip hop then you’d have a case. But you can’t because its not true, so no, hip hop is NOT the issue here. It is only a SYMPTOM of the problem. Older family members of mine, including my parents tell me all about the “flossing” and “showboating” that went on “back in their day” (late 60s, early 70s) when people who didn’t have a pot to piss in would wear furs, diamonds, and buy cadillacs. This was way before hip hop existed! Consumerism itself, in my opinion is an issue that the country faces. We see all these material things as signs of success – our values – the so-called “American Dream” is wrapped up in accumulating things. When we can get to the root of the notion that says the more things we buy the better our lives will, then we can find something real to blame for consumerism. Hip hop is far too easy a scapegoat!

    • BlacknAmazed

      That’s a bowl of Crap! Rastaman. Interesting…name. Rasta’s are usually smart money people. how ironic you would take that name.

    • Pseudonym

      I agree with Rastaman.

      I also want to point out something I see a lot on this blog, as well as others geared toward black Americans:

      Many negative things labeled as problems with “black folk” are really issues of those of a certain socioeconomic class.

      Poor people of all races/ethnicities/nationalities act the same when they come into money. In India, the nouveau riche are throwing $10,000 birthday parties that for their one year-old babies. Poor Southern whites are buying huge tricked out trucks when they receive their lump sum of untaxed wages when they get back home from deployment. There are examples of this everywhere. (Watch the variety of “Housewives” shows- they’re not all black, but all new to money and they’re all buying extravagant and almost going broke. And let’s not forget MTV’s “Cribs.”) It seems that out-of-control spending is the natural reaction to finding oneself with a large amount of expendable income when- not too long ago- one was hard pressed to fill their tank with gas.

      “Can I put $3 on pump number 2?”

      And that’s if they even had a car.

      Consumerism is rampant in the US- period. and a large part of the world as well (sadly, even in some of the lesser developed parts). It exists in countries without hip hop, so while I understand why you disagree with the message of Otis, I wouldn’t use that song to blame rampant consumerism among black people in the USA on Jay and Kanye.

    • binks

      “The truth is our whole society is scarred by rampant consumerism, the messages we see in hip hop culture is reflective of our materialistic values not vice-versa.”

      Amen! This society in and of itself is materialistic, think about it you can go less than a minute in our society without someone trying to convince you to buy or get something…especially something you don’t need or can’t afford. And we are program to thing the more stuff we have and accumulate, especially name brand items, makes us better and boost our status. Hip hop is not to blame because these mainstream commercial rappers are a product of this environment. And 9/10 people uses consumerism to fill a void.But I do blame entertainment in general now for making it seem okay to be vain/materialistic

    • @BlackNAmazed

      “That’s a bowl of Crap! Rastaman. Interesting…name. Rasta’s are usually smart money people. how ironic you would take that name.”

      What exactly did this comment add to the discussion besides a demonstration of your ignorance? Seriously punch yourself in the face.

  2. BlacknAmazed

    I would like someone to explain how HIP HOP went from being

    Hip, Innovative and Sexy to Ignorant, Empty and Ratchett

    There is something to be said about this generation not knowing self.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      it was co opted and turned out. the system of white supremacy will use your pleasures against you. that is why you have to control your vices and keep your mind clear.
      anything can be used against you.

    • @BlackNAmazed

      The consumers decide which hip hop artist to make popular. The fan base is mainly female and white male.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      yes, as long as white people determine which black artists have success we are in trouble

  3. Quinnette

    It is no secret among my friends that I am not a fan of hip hop. I think it is unfortunate that so much importance is placed on material crap. It is not just hip hop, this trend has been going on long before hip hop. Back in the days of Motown, this consumerism existed and the sad thing is, like most pro athletes, they are all broke. I also see an arrogance among the young performers. I call it the American Idol syndrome. You think just because you are on that show, you think your shyte don’t stink. I blamed it on the easy fame, because for certain if they had to sing in the dives and seedy underground joints in any major city, they would learn they are no big deal and would be humbled for sure.

    The sad thing is with all that we learned from our past , we know education is the key to the future, but hip hop speaks louder than education. I would give them a pass, if on some small scale they were promoting something like travel. I know for me I was always interested in what was beyond American shores and watching videos by Duran Duran (which were mostly shot off in some far away land) made me want to get out there and see the world, and I have. Who knows maybe the videos do show that, I don’t know since I don’t watch videos anymore.

  4. girlformerlyknownasgrace

    Commercial hip hop is very different from underground hip hop in my opinion. And I dont think the entire responsibility of hip hop rests on Kanye’s and JayZs shoulders.

    Having said that the music of JayZ and Kanye are not representative of the economically downtrodden. N.ggas in Paris represents a culture difference. Commercial hip hop is not resistant at all the way popular hip hop used to be.

  5. jamesfrmphilly

    hip hop is a tool…..

Comments are moderated, please be respectful. View our policy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Read previous post:
Close