It's all such an obvious con game. We hear so much about how kids today are cynical, skeptical, media-savvy and so forth. But if they're buying this hooey, they're idiots.
When asked by Rolling Stone if he's worried that his outspokenness might cost him a Grammy, Kanye replied, speaking in the third person: "Kanye is always opinionated and outspoken, and now that it's Grammy time he turns into a house nigga? Come on. That's not even realistic." Right, but the suggestion that the guy with eight Grammy nominations is a pariah, never mind suffering from Christlike persecution, is entirely plausible?
Alas, this shtick works. It certainly worked for such "gangsta rappers" as Ice Cube, Ice-T and Snoop Dogg, all of whom once talked a big game about keeping it real and not being "house niggas." Now they're all successful mainstream actors. Messrs. Cube and Dogg make a nice living appearing in family-friendly comedies. I guess acting came naturally to them.
Obviously, none of this is unique to rap or "black" music (quotation marks necessary because white suburban kids are the biggest market for the stuff). Big corporations have been marketing "rebellion" since the 1950s. And the kids fall for it every time. In 1968, Columbia Records promised in an ad that "the man can't bust our music!" Madonna made her career glamorizing slattern chic and attacking bourgeois morality. Now she peddles children's books.
Today, there's a great cell phone commercial in which a corporate executive explains to his assistant that his new billing plan is his own private way of "sticking it to the man." His assistant replies, "But sir, you are the man." The boss says, with some dismay, "I know."
As far as the music industry goes, Kanye West is the man, but he won't admit it. Instead, he sells himself as a victim of a society that can't handle his truth. Four million records sold and saturation adulation in the media suggest that it can handle his truth just fine.
The problem is, it ain't the truth. It's just a scam for kids too stupid to recognize they're being played — again.
Want to be a real rebel? Read a book.
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