Shit just changed: Gangsta rap capitalizes on capitalism
May 11, 2014
Leave it to freshly-annointed billionaire gangsta rap entrepreneur Dr. Dre (née Andre Young) and R&B artist Tyrese Gibson to be quintessential brothas in their elated video announcement Friday of a reported $3.2 billion deal with Apple to acquire Young's successful Beats Electronics.
From Dr. Dre's mouthful-mackin' "The first billionaire in hip-hip, right here from the muthafuckin' west coast!" to Tyrese's spontaneous break-out of his bomb-ass-happy dance (camera panning to his James Brown jiggin' feet), with homies off-camera hoopin' and hollerin'... folks, it doesn't get anymore Black than this.
And I couldn't be happier.
Apart from the celebratory high and hilarity of the renegade selfie leak (Apple has yet to confirm the deal), the accomplishment of Dr. Dre and Beats co-founder Jimmy Lovine is nothing short of stunning. It is full-circle poetic justice for the up-from-the-ghetto black male, the most loathed, feared and endangered demographic in America. It is the perfect exploitation of ghetto misery (the GM of the new millennium?), the rise of lesser-than niggah to the heap of the 1 percent.
To parrot Tyrese: Does the shit get any better?
Too bad Tupac isn't around to mark the mileston. He'd probably pen a gangsta rap redux destined to go platinum. With a fresh, in-yo'-face modification of a line from "2 of Americaz Most Wanted": "Two multi-billionaire muthafuckas catchin' cases."
Calling the reported deal bittersweet, Chris Richards of The Washington Postponders whether the assimilation of a once-marginalized art form within the American mainstream has traded one power -- presumably, making respectable sums of cash as an entrepreneur -- for another: hitting the jack pot of the filthy rich.
It's no surprise that Richards chooses to pejoratively label the Dre/Apple deal when billion dollar transactions between privileged white males are (as even he acknowledges) the pinnacle of American capitalism -- the very stuff of the American dream.
As certain members of Congress have shamelessly demonstrated since President Barack Obama's double-win to the world's highest office, African American mega-achievement, particularly entrepreneurial and political, is a hard pill to swallow:
"The way they see it we was meant to be captive
just can't understand why we gettin' respect, now."
- Tupac Shakur, "I Don't Give a Fuck"
That gangta rap artists, hip-hop record company CEOs, and kingpins of zenith spin-offs have scratched, fought, rapped and innovated their way into the once-uber-elite echelons of American society is a testament to the tenacity and intuitive brilliance of the persecuted and the scorned. And this success -- raw, indigenous, irreverent, and rebellious -- epitomizes a character trait as American as apple pie: Ingenuity.
In their video, Dr. Dre and Tyrese jubilantly call for an update of the Forbes List. Channeling the indelible gangsta parlance that has swept the world over, I can only say this: Looks like the homies done beat the muthafuckas at their own game.