By Paul Porter
It would be easy this time to point the finger at Interscope’s rapper Chief Keef.
The 17-year-old from the mean streets of Chicago, raps about: gangs, guns, drugs and violence – all the typical ingredient’s for today’s rap songs.
But Chief Keef is really living what he’s rapping, last December he was under house arrest, charged with unlawful use of a weapon for pointing a gun at a police officer. His parents should probably be investigated by DCFS (Chicago’s Department of Children & Family Services) for his openly smoking weed and carrying guns in his videos at just 16.
When news of his 2011 arrest hit the streets his then unknown anthems “Bang” “3HUNNA” and “I Don’t Like” became the soundtrack of the city where the murder rate has increased 38 percent in the past six months. Since March, Chief Keef’s new video, “I Don’t Like” has had over 7.3 million YouTube views. He gained most of his popularity with a cult like following of teenagers around Chicago high schools.
The homemade videos are the same old storyboard of blunt smoking and gun toting are present. Chief Keef is a corporate dream, a young, raw, snitch killing rapper. But I’m not going to point the finger at a teenager who can’t hold a decent interview, don’t know what a soundcheck is and doesn’t have anything of substance in his music besides the Lex Luger beats.
This is about the real gangster of all this confusion, Interscope Records’ chairman Jimmy Iovine.
Gangsters like Iovine and Warner Music Group’s Lyor Cohen are rarely mentioned or talked about. They have been pushing raps buttons for over twenty years and have gone almost unnoticed.
It’s one thing for the kid to make his bad music and it stays secluded just to Chicago. No one can stop someone from making music, but it wouldn’t go too far with out Iovine’s marketing/media money and power. Because there’s absolutely nothing special or star quality about Chief Keef. Now it’s going all over the country and Iovine’s continuing to pollute the black community.
When Interscope signed Keef, Iovine probably never even came down for the meeting. That’s because Iovine knows the boy is going to fail and be broke within a year. He didn’t want to waste his time. Jimmy has the power and pushed the button to sign him because he knows he can make money off of the kid’s newfound attention.
“They was talkin’ good to me,” he said of Interscope to MTV News. “I agreed to what they was talkin’ about. They was talkin’ like I was talkin’ and I liked that. All these other labels, I was talkin’ to ‘em, but it’s time anyway for me and I’m goin’ with Interscope.”
He can’t even form a complete sentence. Probably didn’t even read his contract.
But don’t expect urban youth’s most influential; Kanye, Diddy, Wayne, Baby or Jay-Z to rally or speak up against the culture killers like this because they are all too ready to collect big dirty corporate checks. Don’t expect sites like Russell Simmon’s Global Grind, or so called music journalists (radio, print or television) to point fingers at this mess because they too have exchanged freedom of speech for pay checks and perks.
The truth is that the same excuse these niggas are using is getting too old and just doesn’t add up. Short money is the mantra of Hip Hop. One hit wonders with a select chosen few that reach deep pocket status and influence stay at the top, but remain silent on issues that really matter. If you don’t buck the system the system keeps your palms greased.
Russell Simmons and rap critics will say that Hip Hop is merely art. And the violent portrayals and messages that are pumped into impressionable young brains have no affect. I say it’s all bullshit. The millions of dollars of advertising money that book end hellacious hip radio sets nationwide are there because they sell their product and image.
Gangsta Hip Hop is no different. So the next time you hear or see another gangsta-bitch-I’ma-kill-you anthem, it’s not a black, juvenile offender like Chief Keef – because he has no power in this country – remember that the real gangsters who truly profit are wealthy corporate executives named Jimmy Iovine and Lyor Cohen.