Some cool social media listening images:
Age of Snark model
Crack Boys Fashion Shoot – Hype Magazine
Hip Hop Role Models in SA Media_
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not happy about the Crack Boys photo shoot in this month’s Hype Magazine.
Do we really need to glorify drug dealing, gangsterism and gunplay in South Africa? Is this the sort of imagery we want to have associated with SA Hip Hop?
I know they are called the ‘Crack’ Boys, but as Cash has explained on numerous occasions, that is just a metaphor borrowed from Juelz Santana to explain the addictive nature of their music and the street hustle associated with selling it (although Cash does stretch the nature of that ‘metaphor’ to breaking point by having white powder on his CD cover, but that’s another issue).
Doing a photo shoot that actually portrays the Crack Boys doing drug deals, unpacking cocaine and posing with gats takes the concept beyond a metaphor. Hype is buying into, and implicitly supporting, the glamourous gangster fantasy that white corporate America has been force-feeding the world for years. Remember, we’re not talking about real life here – Hype is not addressing the reality of the social situations that lead to gangsterism and drug dealing – it’s just a play-play fantasy fashion shoot.
Putting the red circle with the diagonal line through it over the guns doesn’t absolve Hype of their responsibility for promoting this imagery. Where is the red circle over the cocaine? Is Hype saying that guns are bad, but cocaine is ok?
50 Cent has a beautifully shot series of photos that portray G-Unit in a variety of strikingly similar scenarios. The difference there is that 50 actually claims that that imagery represents his real life, and has built his whole persona around this.
You could argue that Curtis Jackson has created 50 Cent as a fantasy gangster for the sake of entertainment no different to Ray Liotta playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Indeed, this is an argument often used by ‘gangster’ rappers when they get arrested. However, the point still remains; in a country that is afflicted by drugs, guns and gangsterism, is it responsible behaviour to glamourise gang culture, drug dealing and violence to an impressionable young audience?
What would have been wrong with showing the Crack Boys hustling their mixtapes at parties, choosing which Louis Vuitton bag to buy or investing in property? These are things that are based in reality and that would provide something positive to aspire to.
Wordsworth made a great point at the Red Bull Academy talk he gave. He said that rappers are often poor role models because, when interviewed, they just talk in cliches instead of saying anything that a young kid can listen to and learn from… "yeah, you know how we do", "we’re grindin’ dawg", "we ballin’ out of control", "we thuggin’ it out big style" etc.
Maybe I’m making way too much of this whole thing (it is just a fashion shoot after all), but the Hip Hop community and the media that represents it mustn’t forget its responsibility to the community at large.