What’s good dear people, hope you’re all enjoying your festive season and what not, welcome to our fourth @WiseMenRadio Weekly Wise Words article. So this week, we wanted to address the issue of reality vs. perception. Now before you ask what we’ve been drinking, no, we have not been watching too much Inception (although it is a great movie) and we haven’t been watching too much Matrix either. What we mean is, from what we see and hear within Hip Hop and what is reality and what is perception?
“If you got it better flaunt it” – 2pac Shakur . Now I’m sure this statement had been said before, but we’re going to go with 2pac’s quote from ‘2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted’ because it works within the context of Hip Hop. Lately, Rap has become about opulence, more so today than any other time, where at one point there was a balance between the message of consciousness and self, today we are inundated with the message of being immersed in a world of money, women and cars. Some would say this is inspirational, as Hip Hop on the majority, still speaks to young people of colour and in most cases, those youngsters live in ‘the hood’ and hearing songs that speak of living the bling life, inspire them to ‘get up out the hood’ as they too realize that it is possible.
This has seen many a rapper and fanatic put on a front that sees them living a life that may not be true to their actual financial status. How many times have we heard stories of a rapper who, in videos was ‘balling’ and rapping about his illustrious lifestyle but in actual fact was broke and was in need of a desperate cash injection (one immediately thinks of Young Buck), or how many times have you gone to the club and seen a guy buying a bottle of Moet or Glenfiddich and ‘balling’, but in actuality was broke, I mean, they don’t have a car, not more than an old tomato, fridge water and an onion in their fridge and yet, somehow this guy is able to spend thousands on booze at the club, maybe his rent money? Some would say it is just a case of faking it till one makes it.
“Fake it till you make it” (also called “act as if“) is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence. The purpose is to avoid getting stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident…, e.g., by thinking, “I can’t ask that girl out because she would sense my lack of confidence. The article “How You Too Can Be an Optimist in Prevention”, points out in research at Wake Forest University, for example, scientists asked a group of 50 students to act like extroverts for 15 minutes in a group discussion, even if they didn’t feel like it. The more assertive and energetic the students acted, the happier they were”
The phrase is a simplification, or generalization, of Aristotle’s notion that acting virtuous will make one virtuous. The phrase was introduced into modern language in the late twentieth century.
Now in America, it’s different, rappers and fans alike can almost be forgiven for adopting this mentality as their economy is one of the strongest in the world, Damon Dash once said that they used to ‘make it rain’ in the club, even though they didn’t have the money, however, they soon got endorsement and distribution deals that brought them millions and they sold Rocawear to the Iconix Brand Group for $204 million. In South Africa though we are not at that economic climate, few rappers have made close to a million or more from their music and as shown, Jay-Z, like Diddy and 50 did not make most of their money from rapping, but through other business ventures like Sean John or Vitamin Water. What are we trying to say you might ask?
Does it help South African rappers and fans to ‘fake it till they make it’ if the economic climate does not equate to that of America? Hip Hop as a culture in South Africa is in serious need of financing, and is sorely ignored by corporate; so when a rapper is going on about how fancy their lifestyle is and popping bottles in the club are they intrinsically hurting themselves, as the opportunities to make a decent living from rap are not as abundant and therefore are just spending money to maintain an image without seeing any real monetary return? I remember seeing a guy at the club sipping on a bottle of Dom Perignon which cost about R2000 and the next day, was hopping out of a taxi and walking to work. While he might have had more girls focusing on him at the club because he was ‘balling’, I sipped on my beer but the next day, I DROVE to work; with that R2000 he spent on ONE bottle of champagne, he could have put that down as part of a monthly instalment for a Tata Indica and still walk out with some change.
Should we be faking it in the hopes that soon it will all pay off and it won’t be all for nought, or are we getting ahead of ourselves and should slow our role, maybe wait for corporate to take note of the industry before we begin ‘balling’? Or is it the ‘balling that will make Hip Hop appealing to corporate and finally see them pump money into the scene and give rappers and others involved in the scene those lucrative deals we always read about and hear happen in the States? We’re not condemning, to each their own, we only have one life and live it the way each sees fit, so this isn’t about what we think the correct way to conduct ourselves is, but what you, the everyday person thinks, as it is also your contribution to the scene that aids rappers alike to benefit from all of this and essentially/eventually have the corporate get involved, for without the general members of public, the consumer, corporate wouldn’t exist.
Let us know what you think, do you think SA Hip Hop needs to except reality or we need to start faking it till we make it even more? Till then, remember to check us out every Tuesday from 5-8pm CAT @WiseMenRadio, only on @rhythm100radio www.rhtyhm100radio.co.za or R100.mobi.