Hey everyone. Welcome to Hip-Hop Can Save America!, the podcast that examines the individuals and organizations utilizing hip-hop music and culture in innovative ways, to improve lives, livelihoods and communities across the country in areas including such as education, health and wellness, politics and activism, business and entrepreneurship, the fine arts, spirituality and more.
We’re back later this week with a full-length interview, but I wanted to drop a follow-up to the last editorial I shared with you, my thoughts on the Jay-Z and NFL deal.
[expand title=”LISTEN ABOVE”]Because for a few days, it was literally all that anyone in hip-hop or sports was talking about. It was polarizing, and many people felt many types of ways about it.
But like a tornado, the ruckus seems to have disappeared as quickly as it came.
I think we should be continuing to bring the ruckus.
See, in the past, in the world of celebrities, sports figures, and politicians, the coveted ability of “damage control” spawned the creation and growth of ultra-high-priced publicists. They commanded top dollar for finding ways to spin scandal and diffuse disaster.
Nowadays, if you look at the entertainment, political, or sports landscape, even in an era of kneeling quarterbacks, #metoo, and talk of presidential impeachment, it doesn’t take much of a genius to know the best way out of a potentially career-ending controversy.
Just wait it out.
Personally, I’m hesitant to fall into the school of thought that Americans — thanks to the internet or smartphones or perhaps an orchestrated campaign of anti-intellectualism by some powers that want to be — have lost the ability to focus on any one thing for any extended period of time. Or, heaven forbid, more than one thing at a time.
I want to believe that the majority of us can walk and chem protest gum at the same time.
But, when you’re tuned in to politics, social justice, and hip-hop, you tend to see too many examples of explosive outrage that all too quickly fizzles out.
I’m sure there’s something scientific that can explain why so many people are quick to jump on a “CANCEL THEM” bandwagon, to then just as quickly, jump off and move on to the next shiny object of their temporary disdain…
Maybe there’s just too many distasteful things happening these days…
In any event, I’m someone fairly immersed in areas which include hip-hop and social justice. Recently, those two worlds infamously collided as news broke of a partnership between iconic hip-hop GOAT candidate Jay-Z and the National Football League, which in recent years supplanted its negative association with Nipplegate with the far more controversial campaign to blacklist Colin Kaepernick.
This kiss of the titans created an instant, polarizing clash, with pundits from across the sports world — and hip-hop world — each weighing in on the situation.
I hate to report with a sweeping brush, but I think it’s fair to suggest that in response to the news, folks fell into one of three major camps…
Jay-Z has been quietly repping the fight for social justice through his philanthropic efforts, funding of documentaries, bailing out protestors, and countless other things that we don’t hear about because real g’s move in silence like lasagna.
Jay-Z is a business, man, and by business, we mean opportunist. A guy who, despite these aforementioned good deeds, previously came under fire for ultra-capitalistic misfires such as the “Occupy” t-shirt debacle.. Not to mention that whole gentrification of Brooklyn thing… The guy who fooled the entire Big Apple to praise his song about being a successful-drug-dealer-under-their-stupid-noses … To many, even though they will admire his business acumen, the way he moves is no different than other billionaires — long since removed from the streets from whence he came. For that reason, the NFL deal is shady by default, and when looking into it, didn’t seem promising in the least.
The third camp is people who don’t give a damn either way.
I actually had an interesting take on the matter. In a previous bonus episode of this podcast, I expressed what I felt was Jay-Z’s biggest mistake:
Not coming to the people first.
I thought this was the real issue. That there was no real transparency, no real connection to the people he portrays himself to be representing.
The backlash was, in fact, loud and widespread. But, taking a page from the How To Control Publicity Damage in 2019 playbook, it seems like Jay decided to just wait it out…
And sure enough, the noise died down.
Tekashi 69. Lil’ Nas X’s sexual orientation. Anthony Brown. The whistleblower.
A lot of distractions. Some of them worthy of our attention, some of them — let’s say aren’t.
But what we haven’t gotten in the month and a half since our de facto hip-hop statesman took the issues of the people into the belly of the pigskinned beast — is an update.
What we got was some lame announcement about an apparel line, a vague announcement about donations to quote-unquote social justice organizations which include one that if I recall correctly seems to think that cutting off the dreadlocks of young African-American men is a key to their future success — and, in what is supposed to be the cornerstone of the Jay-Z, Live Nation, NFL relationship — the ability to curate the Super Bowl halftime show, we have now received word that the immense focus on social justice that brought Jay-Z into an assumedly lucrative as all hell deal with the NFL will deliver Jennifer Lopez and Shakira to the 2020 Super Bowl.
Not exactly the social justice warriors once might have expected if you thought Jay-Z would help the NFL “Inspire Change,” although not necessarily a surprise if you took his statement that we were “past kneeling” to mean that he perhaps did indeed throw the originator of this entire movement under the proverbial bus — one of the many criticisms of the deal.
So. Again. As I stated in my previous editorial. Jay-Z continues to make the one mistake which makes each one of his already sketchy moves more suspect…
He doesn’t take time to talk to the people.
To be honest, I don’t think the establishment looks at Jay-Z so some political mastermind. He’s not revered. He is a tool to connect to youth and minority culture. Period.
In my opinion, Jay-Z isn’t even the best path to those communities — but that’s another discussion.
Jay, we know you like to move in silence. We know you shun the spotlight when it comes to your exact moves in the worlds of activism and social justice.
But I believe if you are going to continue to claim to represent the people, you can’t capitalize off of the position you are being anointed with — that of representative of THE PEOPLE — and not face THE PEOPLE.
The longer you do, the more the people will doubt your intentions. And while many of them will criticize you but then move on to other things, there are those of us who won’t. We will continue to ask for transparency and accountability.
I personally hope you will satisfy that call. Otherwise, you’re just another rich billionaire claiming to be for the people, while you’re really only out for self.
After all, that really isn’t the blueprint we want our hip-hop heroes to follow.
Once again, thank you for listening to this bonus episode of Hip-Hop Can Save America! Stay tuned for a new full-length interview episode coming up later this week to find out what hip-hop, computer coding, and Google have in common.
My name is Manny Faces, creator, producer, host and editor of Hip-Hop Can Save America!, presented by the Center for Hip-Hop Advocacy at www.hiphopadvocacy.org, and produced by Manny Faces Media, and www.mannyfacesmedia.com. Feel free to hit me up with your comments or thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, catch me in NYC at the Audio Engineering Society’s 147th Pro Audio Convention. I’ll be moderating a panel on Friday October 18 called Cache Rules Everything About Me: Archiving and Preserving Hip-Hop in the Digital Age. Find out more about that, and me, at www.mannyfaces.com
Thanks for listening. Until next time, peace, love, and unity.[/expand]