"Friend or foe yo? State your biz. /
Hmmm, ya tend the doe? Ah, there it is. /
Me? I run the show. Oh, and these kids /
Don't like nobody comin' round here f*ckin' wit they doe for sh*t. /
You're enterprisin' though and I like it. /
But f*ck wit the big dogs yo, and I gotta bite ya. /
Look, its outta my hands. /
And you gettin' money round here is not in the plans. /
So hop you ass outta that van - head back to Kansas."
"Friend Or Foe" - Jay-Z; Reasonable Doubt
I blame Master P for this sh*t.
To his credit, Master P was the possibly first rapper (certainly the first I can remember) to master the science of marketing.
Think about it.
P turned independent record label No Limit Records, into a one-time industry powerhouse and global conglomerate, selling over 75 million albums to date. He used grass-roots marketing techniques such as selling tapes out of the trunk of car in areas with potential demand for his brand of gangsta rap music - giving free samples to people in expensive cars (Wikipedia.org). In 1996 he parlayed this street-level buzz into an industry shaking distribution deal with Priority Records, giving No Limit Records 100% ownership of its "masters" (master recordings) and 85% of record sales - an agreement unheard of at the time (and, fore the most part, since). He ingeniously created brand recognition for No Limit Records and cross-promoted his artists in every project (albums, straight to video releases, etc). Every release used the same, over-the-top artwork (diamond encrusted titles, bright colors, gaudy mafia imagery) regardless of whose album (Mystikal, Silkk tha Shocker, Mia-X...whoever) was actually being released, making No Limit records instantly recognizable on record store display shelves. He was the first rapper to be worth over $300 million, immensely increased the popularity of southern rap music, and was a part of the foundation for what would later become known as "Crunk Music" But probably most importantly, (according to Wikipedia.org) "he made sure all of his artists debuted at #1 on soundscan to build the perception of popularity" (is it me, or does that sentence allude heavily to P inflating record sales by buying large quantities of No Limit releases himself?..."things that make you go hmmmm"). Master P made somethin' outta very little, layed the blueprint for today's method of new artist discovery and forever changed the inter-workings of the rap music industry.
Only one problem. Master P couldn't rhyme!
Seriously, (and this is the most impressive part of his story) Master P sold rap music without being able rap. Instead, he came up a with his own formula - enviable personality, energetic production, easily remembered hooks, and the infectious, A-1 ad lib - "Ugghhhhhh" (I could go senile tomorrow and still have "Make 'em say Ugghhhhh! Na Naaa Na Naa!" trapped in my head). This combination opened the eyes of every other record label and forced them to revise their business plan. No longer was artist development, well-rounded Lps, music quality and lyrical talent crucial to movin' units. Thanks to to the P-Formula beats, hooks, and ad libs were now paramount (my thank you card is in the mail....sigh).
I say that to say this.
Now, 10 years later, Hip Hop is flooded with a bunch of one-trick ponies disinterested in the trivial nuances of Hip Hop...You now, little things like history and lyrical expression and sound quality and, well...Hip Hop. Hell, everyone these days thinks they are rappers...and sadly, thanks to the P-Formula, just about everyone thinks they can actually be a rapper. Hip Hop is the new gold rush or dot.com-boom - its the new 'hustle' and every muttaskutta with a pen and a pad is runnin' to the well. The worst part is Master P's off-chutes have taken the P-Formula to an all time low.
Case in point: Young Jeezy.
Young Jeezy has seamlessly adapted the P-Formula to his brand of trap music - utilizing stellar production, catchy hooks, and extensive adlibing to sell records. Arguably, he's more known for his ubiquitous ad lib, "Yeaaaahhhhhhh," than any line dropped since his major-label debut Lets Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (and is a direct decendant of P's "Ugghhhh!"). His "Snowman" persona is an immediate reminder to P's "Ice Cream Man" alter-ego. And beats and hooks are his songs primary selling points. By no means is Jeezy the only rapper using the P-Formula to move units, but he is the prime example of what happens when the P-Formula goes wrong.
What separates Jeezy from most other offenders (Pitbull falls into this category as well, having gone on record stating Hip Hop is only a hustle to him) is that he openly, in fact arrogantly boasts being a "trapper not a rapper." Hip Hop isn't his Heaven - its his Hustle; and he proudly pimp's it for his own profit. And there lies the irony behind this boondoggle.
My cousin Sha broke it down like this.
Jeezy's popularity is based off of his trap star reputation. He's a block-hustler with assumed ties to Atlanta's most notorious crime family (Black Mafia Family) so his street credibility has never been in question. To even survive in that world, there are certain rules you follow. So I wonder what would Jeezy (or anyone in the life) do if some outta town hustlers encroached on his territory, pushin' product to his clientele, and bounced safely back to whereever they were from with a pocket full of cash (like on The Wire, when the New York cats tried milkin' Marlo's blocks down in B-More; or Jay-Z's "Friend Or Foe" - he's talking directly at guys like Jeezy...yet he signs him to Def Jam? Money talks loudest)? Specifics aside, that ish would be handled accordingly - as it should.
But despite knowing that basic rule of respect for other people's territory, Jeezy un-remorsefully encroaches on Hip Hop culture, using the P-Formula to sell records, and makes millions of dollars without showing an inkling of deference to what and who he's stealing money from!
Thats right. STEALING.
Its one thing to be a bad rapper with a good gimmick (there have been plenty of wack rappers in Hip Hop history). But its a wholenother thing to profit from Hip Hop and not proudly claim to be a part of the culture! That ish will get you killed where he's from...but somehow okay for him to pull that sh*t over here? Jeezy is making millions of dollars off of Hip Hop music (thanks to the P-Formula) and says he's not a rapper??? He's a trapper??? He's just gettin' his paper???? I'm suppose to respect you just because you "bust your guns"??? Nah muttaskutta, YOU DO THIS NOW! You have decades worth of deference to pay, homie and you're slackin'. Real recognize real, and I ain't never seen you in my life! I can't wait for your counterfeit rap career to fall off and you end up in a too-tight-two piece suit...dancin' with the stars.
So what if Young Jeezy is a 'hustler' or 'trapper' or whatever he considers himself? In the end he's a hypocrite, simple and plain. And I'll NEVER respect it - no matter how hot his ad libs are.
"Get the point?
I'll let you go, but before you leave, /
I guess I oughta let you know / I need those keys.
And a promise you'll never, / no matter the weather, /
Come around here no more."
"Friend Or Foe" - Jay-Z; Reasonable Doubt