The music industry is a strange place driven by its own rules. It is often the place where popular groups are lauded for stealing material from lesser known acts. It is a place where notorious underground artists can write cheesy hits for artists it would seem they despise especially when their ghost-written efforts are way more successful than their own. Often, from the outside fans and aspiring artists get caught up in the hype and lose their way. They forget that there are lawyers, technicians, agents, vocal coaches, designers, managers, engineers and plenty of money involved in taking advantage of the casual listener’s naivety. A lot is invested in maintaining the illusion that is “professional image,” and they are not about to let some hood-rat rookie bring down the industry with their bad manners and lack of tact. As anxious as players can be to get in the game, there are certain things that will get you shutdown, locked-out and possibly killed. Here’s our top 5:
1. Trying to bring real guns and drugs into the fake-ass industry
As we’ve discussed, the recording industry is all about manufactured images. These facades use the imagination of the people to reinforce the aspirations of the fans to admire and idolize the artists. It is a great technique for generating sales. The challenge to this often comes when fans and aspiring artist are unable to distinguish the difference between pretend and reality as is the rising case in the genre of Urban music.
One of the contemporary pop images of today’s Urban musician plays upon the ideas of drugs and violence. In its extreme form, rappers present themselves as “gangstas” and the kind of people who spend a lot of time using drugs and carrying weapons. This shift in personal/professional representation in popular music is a relatively new thing, and something that has caused more problems than it has solved. Prior to this, artists and musicians kept their drugs and guns out of the public forum. In fact, artists with a reputation for being violent and intoxicated were traditionally ostracized and avoided as frequently as possible. Think about it: would you invest $1 million in someone who is constantly on the verge of getting arrested and incarcerated, costing you more money in legal fees that you will NEVER get back? Would you invite someone with a reputation for armed robbery and a general disregard for human decency into your office to meet with your investors?
These manufactured images of so-called “thug life” are great for record sales. They are filled with semi-biographical fiction and make listeners feel like they are one step away from living the life of their favorite rapper. Even aspiring rappers can’t tell the difference.
Young Money rapper Cory Gunz found this out the hard way. He was recently arrested for carrying a loaded pistol in his back pack. According to his own word: “This was a big mistake on my part. I didn’t have any intentions of harming anyone or committing a criminal activity. So many young people look up to me and I need to fight though this. It’s been really hard, really stressful.” He can face three and a half years for illegal possession of a loaded weapon. If he’s not smart enough to not carry a weapon he wasn’t planning on using, do you think his label is going to invest money in supporting his future efforts?
Oh and what about these goons who were arrested in New Orleans for using real guns to stage a fake robbery for their music video? They are going to jail for illegal carrying of a concealed weapon AND criminal mischief. Their show is over. Who wants to get involved with people who are not able to separate pretend from the real thing?
Speaking of which, don’t think the government doesn’t know about fake thugs and wannabe rappers. The ATF and Washington D.C. police recently set up a sting by posing as a rap label to attract this very sort of person who cannot separate music and illegal activity. Can you guess what happened next? How about over $7.2 million in drugs and 161 weapons were confiscated. Over the course of the year, agents confiscated 161 firearms (including a rocket launcher), 29 assault weapons, 80 pounds of methamphetamine, 21 pounds of cocaine, 1.25 gallons of PCP, 24 pounds of marijuana, heroin and Ecstasy. In addition to the seizures of drugs and weapons, police said many of the 70 suspects detained bragged about other crimes and reportedly stated they would kill police officers or other innocent people if necessary. Yes. This actually happened…
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