A writer over at Elite Daily expressed in an article “25 Sitting On 25 Mill: Why Rap Culture Is Ruining Our Generation’s Perception of Money,” that a college graduate should be lucky enough to land an unpaid internship. Harsh fact while over in a world far far away, Drake is rolling around in Versace sheets, Future is waking up in his new Bugatti and Rick Ross is preparing to visually remind us of the things we don’t have. Lovely.

As a Hampton University graduate, I truly thought that after crossing over into the “real world,” society would be in the palm of my hands — automatically that is, not in the “Started from the bottom, now I’m here” sense. I was raised with the mentality that attending and finishing college is simply expected of you so although I didn’t treat graduating like some over-the-top profound life moment, I was way more taken aback that all my hard work and $100,000 degree (that I paid for), didn’t come accompanied with a cheat sheet to instant success and a black card.

Like most twenty something year-olds, we walk away from college full of million dollar dreams, optimism and complete confidence that we can jump out into the working world and land safely square in a pile of money.

And then one day, we turn up our radios, browse our favorite rapper’s Instagram and that’s the day our lives change forever. Where is my new Buggatti?

Somewhere along the yellow brick rap road, many of us have become addicted and attached to the image of it all. Why do some feel less accomplished because they can’t afford the new Yeezy’s (which I can happily buy like 100 H&M fall outfits with) or for still remaining loyal to Target sheets? The “get rich quick” culture takes away the simple joys of finding a twenty dollar bill in my pocket, or a metro card that has a remaining balance to get us to two stops.

Subconsciously, many have embraced a skewed perception to reality. It’s all about making fast money and blowing it on things they can’t afford to further pamper their façades and false sense of what success truly is. But who am I to point the finger?

At 24 years-old, I’m probably over here setting these overarching expectations of myself based on someone else’s standard of living. It’s not easy to sleep at night digesting the fact that many rappers, who lack the college degrees we all speak so highly of, are toppling my income. I would be lying if I said I didn’t fumble with dreams of fast luxury but deep down, I know its all BS. We all have our own goals and dreams, and those desires shouldn’t be rooted in someone else’s financial reality. I know now what I can and cannot buy (as I go back to eating my $8 Caesar salad).

As frequently as you see Christian Louboutin pumps hitting the Fifth Ave pavement, there is a girl sacrificing two month’s rent and a student loan payment just to wear them. I’m sure she will one day land in the music video of her dreams, but until then, what’s so wrong with paying rent, girl?

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who is also this amazing, highly-respected hip hop journalist. After my typical ranting session about my growing disgust for the rap culture, he simply said “your generation cares too much.” In so many ways, that stuck with me — mainly, the fact that we care about perception and keeping up with the Joneses. Some of us have become followers instead of leaders, taking what we see on Big Sean’s Instagram and attempting to replicate it.

The writer over at elitedaily said it best:

“I’m not sure if this “ball so hard muthaf*ckas try to fine me” culture is going to end anytime soon, but the sooner our generation is aware that rappers live a fantasy life that’s not attainable for us commoners, the better. I want to live it up like the rest of them, but we need to realize that those Instagram likes aren’t paying the bills. Let’s have the goal be “25 sitting on $25,000” before we go all crazy. Cool?”

Basically, you don’t live that life. Know the difference.

What do you think, Clutchettes?

  • L

    Taking rap music literally has alot of people out of touch with reality. first generation millionaires do not spend like what is talked about in the songs these days. These people know it takes time, hard work, frugal spending, limited/no debt and more time. He11 even these rap artists don’t live the life they sing about. Rap is entertainment, viewing it as anything else will have you broke and confused.

  • https://www.facebook.com/melissa.princcess Melissa Henderson

    I agree… We also get confused at how old these people on TV are… there are a few exceptions, but many of these stars are 30+ years old. It makes me feel a little better…


  • Kita J

    i feel you girl! I graduated and thought my degree and hard work will be enough. This definitely shed light. especially living in NYC where everyone stunts like they have no struggles. It also applies to the industry.

  • http://gravatar.com/kmnelson1976 KMN

    This line of thought is what happens when rappers and the like are hailed as role models by this generation and their parents.

    If you’re a Puffy and worked your way to those millions…I can see allowing him to be a business model for hard work and then making your way to 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets…but he’s an exception to the rule. I want the role model to be the CPA of those Buggatti millionaires. Have him/her tell us how much these folks REALLY have (and how they’re renting these Buggattis) and how much s/he makes telling these folks that they cant afford a Buggatti…let that person be a role model.


  • Chelle

    Well, I didn’t believe I would be waking up in a new Bugatti the day of or after my graduation. However, I did believe that the job search wouldn’t have been this difficult. A year and a half later, I’m still not working in my field and yea, I’m mad than a mf. BUT, I know have to take responsibility for why I’m not. I’m no longer believing the bs I was fed in school “Go to college, get good grades and an internship and you’ll be set” That was some bs if I ever heard it! Somebody please stop selling these kids dreams!

  • omfg

    i think it’s weird that people think that a bachelors degree should get them a $100k salary or even anything over $50,000 (unless they are engineers,etc.). you don’t have experience and you haven’t done anything except graduate.

    college is a stepping stone, a way to get training, and something people use increasingly to weed others out from jobs.

  • Rob

    I’m not a fan of this rap culture because I don’t see anything positive about it. Jay-Z lyrics only deliver poison but many of you love him for some reason. I didn’t drop one tear after 2-Pac and Biggie death. I find it sad the young black men look up to people like Jay-Z.

  • MimiLuvs

    Have anyone else notice how the television shows that showcases the lifestyles of the “one-percenters” are more popular, during the tough economic times?
    When I was a little MimiLuvs, back in the 1980′s, I remember shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Dynasty” as well as “Dallas” were very popular.

    Re: College grads with their dreams of “making it”…
    Every year, around graduation season, I tend to hear testimonies from soon-to-be college graduates about their careers and hear them make plans with their salaries.

  • MimiLuvs


    I know a few people who turned noses up at another group of people who had gone the trade school/city exam route instead of attending colleges.
    The ones who decided to study about HVAC and other ‘blue collar’ jobs are now WORKING while my degree-having friends/relatives are still unemployed…
    And majority of them are unemployed because they turned down job offers because the salaries weren’t high.

  • Anthony

    I’m no rap fan, but I think the media, in general, encourages people to live above their means and to want things they don’t need. I wish somebody had sat me down and talked to me about those things when I was first getting into the world of work and bills.

  • Kita P

    agreed but we also grew up being instilled that its very difficult to be successful without a degree. So when you get one, it’s natural you believe the opposite; that you are a bit relieved from the stresses that people without one have. So unless you’re a doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc,, we all (degree or no degree) are kind of in the same boat. In fact, not ONE job has asked me for a transcript yet — that’s how I know its losing it’s value in a lot of professions. who you know is everything.

  • Yout

    Part of the Rappers glorification of wealth is in response to black leaders telling black folks to Be happy being poor. Stay in the ghetto your rewards will come (in the after life) heaven. Sacrifice for “The Cause” (Which is actually nothing but a fantasy). The Rappers are saying…… F’ that. My main priority is feeding myself and my family. “I’m get’n mine” now. The truth is the Rappers aren’t completely incorrect. They just went too far.

    Originally part of the gangster rap image was in response to the feminization of black male entertainers in the 80′s. They had brothers wearing eye shadow, make up, women clothes ect. It was clear the entertainment industry was pushing and promoting the gay lifestyle. Again, I don’t think Rappers were completely incorrect. They just went too far.

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Knotty Natural

    I find that even if you have a college degree, if you are new the the work force your pay scale will represent. People definitely over-estimate their own worth!

  • http://gravatar.com/kmnelson1976 KMN

    YES MimiLuvs!! I should’ve done trade…I used to work for a dispatching company for HVACs…they could make up to $80/hr…and this was 8 years ago…and I am quite sure that they are making good money…

    Now I’m making not even a THIRD of what an HVAC person makes and I have damn near 80K in school loans…eff a degree sometimes lol…


  • IslandgirlDesi

    I totally agree. The sad part is some people still try to live that lifestyle.

  • IslandgirlDesi

    I got my MBA in 2011, still I haven’t been able to transistion to a better paying career and my current employer has not kept its word in rewarding those who obtain a higher education. I was fed a lie believing a degree will get you far, it only got me more debt. I hate to say this but its better to network than educate oneself, because clearly its who you know not what you know is the golden ticket. If your not persuing a career as a doctor, engineer, lawyer than, like Kita wrote, its not worth it. I’m lol but crying softly inside.

  • IslandgirlDesi

    hmmmm….my replies are not corresponding to those I replied to. Sorry :-(

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    @ IslandgirlDes

    I feel that way all the time

  • Blessed

    I only have a B.A. and I make $65,000. Hook up from a friend. It’s all about who you know people. Don’t waste your money going to school any further than that (at least during these economic times). My friends say that this job is “beneath” me intellectually, but I make more than my friends who have Masters soooo… Don’t swallow the kool-aid.

  • Nakia

    regarding college, it’s 2013. an advanced degree in a reasonable field is required. a BA/BS is the new high school diploma. if its in the humanities you’re asking for it. i also don’t understand why people overlook state schools for undergrad. you should not be going into high debt for your BA. maybe it’s because we have an excellent state university system where i live but $100,000? why? so you can live away from home in a dorm? this also makes grad school more doable.

    regarding capitalism, it’s not just rap, its what this country is built on. rappers got it from being americans. most people are in debt for wanting more than they can afford and for living beyond their means and these are not just rap fans, these are consumers. consumerism IS the american dream. you must have an iPhone 5. 6. 7. 8…

    so to the title, i say no. society is.

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 rastaman

    Hip hop culture is a marketers dream, in the music and the videos the artist provide advertising for brands without the advertisers ever having to solicit it. What is better than free advertising. Products are being branded with an audience at no cost to the manufacturers. Now you have a whole generation of audience whose personal taste has been shaped by what they consumed through Hip Hop. Hip hop artist are suckers and their audience are even bigger suckers, they have all been bought and paid for on the cheap.

    Don’t get me wrong I like hip hop but I also studied the psychology of media enough to understand that consuming media is like consuming food you have to be careful what you take in, because while it may look good and appeal to all your senses the long term effects are not always healthy.

    I see it everday, folks who don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it through flossing with clothes, gadgets and gizmos that probably cost them a few months rent. Of course they are no exception from the larger society where conspicuous consumerism is still very prevalent and so many folks still try to floss like they ballers. One of the best things about these economic times is that hopefully it will make us focus more on substance and less on flash.

  • http://trueletterson.wordpress.com trueletterson

    Think about this young college graduate most of the rappers who appears to have got rich quick will get poor quick and twenty five years from now they will easily trade places with you matter of fact they will want to be you!

  • justanotheropinion

    People/young folks need to realize that those they see ‘sleeping on Versace sheets and dropping dollars here and there with no care’ are the exception – they are in no way the rule. If you try and fashion your life after theirs, you will loose each and every time. Additionally, these same folks would be crying in their Cheerios if the actually knew how much money they DIDN’T have. Many of them are too busy living the life and spending the stacks to go back to Finance 101. Can any one say MC Hammer & TLC…

    We need to stop trying to keep up with the Jones’ and just be realistic. If you are trying to follow the ‘Rap Folks’, you will wake up sad, broke down and bitter. How about you just do you? It may not buy you Versace sheets or a Buggatti, but you will be living within your means and less stressed.

  • Mmiss A

    I dunno….I like Jigga but mostly because he is a businessman who is NOW making his money by creativity and working hard. He has the clothing line, clubs, and other ventures going for him and mostly for not going around making 5-6 babies with gold diggers…instead, marrying a sister then starting a family so now they are both rolling in the dough and seem happy. True he started out dealing when he was young, but I think he has grown and made some good moves in his life, even dressing different. I could care less about all these other rappers running around wit their pants hanging down and gold teef…LOL

  • Deal-n-Truth

    We live in a materialism based society where most want everything in an instant. We don’t save anything because many don’t know what having real wealth is; hence the reason why blacks with money don’t do anything worthwhile with what they have.

    All folks have to do is stop supporting the noveau riche and watch what happens. Money equals power and since we don’t have much that is invested to create generational wealth we will never have any real power to influence anything. We finance our own exclusion without even realizing it.

  • http://gravatar.com/oshanae oshanae

    What people have to realize is that majority of these rap artist are putting up a front. Ace Hood probably don’t have a bugotti in real life, What young people of today have know is the difference between reality and hype. And no matter how much money a person has remember rapper or not they had work for it that is never gone change.

  • Meme

    Everyone needs to realize that consumerism is part of the fabric of American culture. Well before any of us were born, a plan was hatched to ensure that corporations would have a steady stream of consumers to buy their goods and keep them wealthy. Everything that we see and hear enforces the notion that you are nothing if you do not have certain material possessions. All of the images around us constant bombard us with the idea that if we do not drive this type of car or have this type of house, that we are nothing. How many people do you know that gives their loved ones a Lexus for Christmas? I have yet to meet the person who gives cars as Christmas presents but I see the commercial ever Christmas like it’s common place. It’s meant to make you feel bad that you gave your wife a sweater/bracelet/whatever and make you think about overextending your budget to get her a Lexus next year. This is true not only in the Black community but America as a whole. This is the reason that Americans are struggling with debt in record numbers. We need to understand the game so that we can fight against the urge to try to prove our self worth with possessions.

    Rap does the same thing but in a different way. It fuels consumerism and that is why the powers that be do nothing to curtail the negative images that it puts out. I am not sure why people don’t seem to realize that the majority of these rappers do not have the type of money that they rap about. All you have to do is look at the very popular rappers that came before them to realize that their wealth is fleeting. Jay-Z, Puffy and 50 cent are not the norm. Rick Ross, Big Sean and a host of other rappers will be broke in the very near future, if history is any indication of things to come.

  • Believe that

    You’re being melodramatic. Have you ever read Decoded? I urge you to pick up a copy. Second, Jay-Z came from nothing- the projects in Marcy and got to where he is by himself–literally. Now, was the use of the N word or his disrespect of women a bad thing? yes, but he is a symptom and not the cause. People like to jump on Chief Keef – i’m like, there are a million more Chief Kief’s running around and he’s making his money and supporting his family the way he knows how. He lives in the ghetto of Chicago. What would you have him do? Until we start giving these young boys an out, that’s the route they will take, and for what they can accomplish for their families, can you blame them?
    Jay-z should be looked up to…he’s married and is building an empire and doesn’t have 6 baby mamas…I can think of a lot worse to aspire to.

  • E.M.S.

    Rappers don’t understand the concept of accumulating wealth. That’s why many of them while instantly catapulted into riches beyond they can imagine, will end up broke because they don’t know how to realistically manage money or trust someone to manage it for them.

    At least college grads know they will not instantly be making six or seven digits, it takes time, sacrifice and hard work if they really want to live that way, which not everybody is cut out for. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to have wealth if you understand what it will take to get it and how easily it can be lost.

    By the way, “Bugatti” is spelled with only one g.

  • SpkKay13

    A law degree no longer guarantees financial success or stability either. I know several LLM graduates who are grasping for straws just like our classmates who opted out of college post high school. Law graduates typically start out with 40k salaries whilst completing briefs and other paperwork for more seasoned lawyers. Compare the aforementioned salary to 300k+ student loan debt. In fact, a large number of law graduates are forced to work short contract jobs (1-6 months) doing document reviews sans benefits, 401k’s, etc. I strongly suggest that people research the cost of these degree programs and the return in regards to gaining employment. Furthermore, POC need to participate in more shadow programs and actually utilize social media to reach out to people in their desired field to learn the truth behind the misconceptions. There are a slew of other fields, in which people of color are underrepresented, that are very lucrative. Speech-Language Pathology (my field), occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc are fields to be considered as well.

  • [email protected]

    Seriously, are you delusional?
    How can you be a few years out of an ok college ( I had never heard of Hampton college) that’s not even an Ivy League and have little talent or no family business whatsoever and expect success and a black card upon graduation?? While you were spending time watching those artists on TV, you should have done some research on your school’s aluminis.
    Don’t blame on those successful rappers, they have nothing to do with your failure. If you know them personally most of them work hard and do have some talents. You chose completely different path and you’re responsible for your own life.

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