I just finished watching a movie on Netflix called “World’s Greatest Dad”. It was a pretty good movie on the surface. I am not going to get into too many of details about the plot. Its a simple plot with a lot working under the surface. I have link that’s highlighted in the movie’s name if you want to check out the Wiki page to it. Basically, its a about a writer / high school teacher that lives with a miserable son that jerks off, jerks off, is a dick to his one and only friend, and, oh yeah he jerks off constantly. The teacher named Lance Clayton played by Robin Williams has a little fling going on with another high school teacher that is kept on private mode so the other kids and teachers wont suspect anything, but also because she wants to have her options open, as you see in the movie she is playing both sides of the fence with another teacher that is more popular and well known. Robin Williams character is basically the male beta friend, while Mike The creative writing teacher is the alpha jock in school that makes her, “feel” a certain way. No shame on her tho, its just how the game works. Fast forward in the movie and, his son is found dead in his room after he choked himself with a belt while masturbating to a photo of the female teacher, after he snagged a pic of her panties at a dinner date his father invited him to. His father finds him and is embarrassed and torn apart at the same time. He doesn’t want his son to be found like this so, he made it seem as if it was a suicide and wrote a brilliant, engaging, and very deep personal suicide letter and placed it in his pocket. The letter is later found on the internet and becomes published in the school paper. It gets the attention of everyone in the school. They feel a certain connection with it. Lance sees this and decides to write more about it without him being the forefront. He writes from the POV of his son and ends up becoming a hit. The female high school teacher that once wanted to keep the relationship on the hush hush now has NO issues with being seen in public with him, after his status is raised up, he starts getting noticed for his work (Somewhat), and his poetry class that once was about to get axed by the principal due to a lack of students attending it, was now filled to capacity because they just wanted to be near the father and learn more about his trouble son. The “greatest dad” in the world was making money and status off of his dead’s son masturbation fantasies. Heart warming.
I bring this movie up because looking at it from the surface level it can be seen as a moral play at hand about how greed can takeover a person. Been there, done that. But underneath I see more because I am just a super smart man that is OBVIOUSLY above human thought. He was doing everything in his power to try and sell his writings in the beginning but failed every time. I am sure they were some great ideas and stories, but he just couldn’t sell the books no matter what he did. He wanted to get attention but just couldn’t do it as easy as the creative writing teacher could, who wrote a story about a Robot that is in the NBA who has to deal with racism. Mike’s story made it to print in a big named and well known magazine. His idea was simple and easy to digest. I think that is the reason why Robin Williams character’s books weren’t getting enough attention. Easy sells like hot cakes. Its why some of the highest grossing movies of the pass year have made a lot off money. The plot is simple and easy to understand. The public doesn’t want complex they want entertainment.
Its like I was telling my cousin when he asked “Why does Hollywood fuck up on comic book movies?” The answer is simple. I had no idea “The Hunger Games” was based off a book. I just seen the trailer, read about it a bit, and then decided to want to check out the movie. THAT, is who Hollywood is trying to sell to. Guys like me who have no idea about the back story and inspiration for the film. I seen the trailer and thought it looked interesting. If Hollywood tried to capture every detail to please the comic book fans they would never make money, because it would take at least 5-6 movies to finish out one story. So yeah, I think that is one of the reasons I believe Lance’s writing hadn’t taking off and made money. Its because it may of been too complex for the public.
The other reason is because I feel like it didn’t have a connection to the reader. Which brings in his son. You see, once his son died there was a connection to “his” writing that was felt by students and teachers. They felt like they were the son as they read “his” journals, writings, letters, etc. It was a connection because he was REALLY dead. They felt like it could happen to them. The letters and writings were about being a outcast, lost, sad, mad, frustrated, confused, invisible to the world, etc. Lance had managed to capture universal feelings and emotions through his son’s death. This is why “his” writing started to take off and eventually land him a spot on a highly rated TV show. A mock like Oprah if you will. The product connected to the people because we all have and still do feel those type of feelings everyday no matter what age you are on some level. Plus, we all will have to deal with losing a loved one sooner or later. Its a painful thing to think about but, no matter how much we will try and block it out it will happen regardless. The post I write today is about this.
Its about how people are better to embrace a product they feel like is about them without it being overtly obvious. Its about how people are able to become more invested in a product if it feels like it was apart their family in some weird way. Watching this movie, it made me see how, when trying to come at people from a business angle first it comes off as cheap and scam like . Its why Lance Clayton’s writings weren’t selling. There was no meat in the pasta. It was just sauce and noodles. By his son dying he was able to snatch reality and shape it to his liking with the help of the people, and build a bond with them. This post is also about what would happen if the story continued. You see, I wont give away the ending but, basically it was the right move to happen to him in the PEOPLE’S EYES whether they want to admit it or not. Not so much because it was a bad thing he was doing, but more so because on a subconscious level, the people realized it was never about a connection to begin with. There was nothing connecting them with the product expect there ideologies about life, and the manipulation of the system at play.
“RISE, FALL, THEN RISE AGAIN. REPEAT”
Despite Eminem and Kanye West success they still manage to have a relationship with their fans that feels honest and genuine. We have watched these two men in the spotlight deal with struggles that everyone can relate to. Yet, at the same time we have also watch them gain a lot of money and status as well in their journey. The reason though why fans have stayed around and not become bitter at their success like most would especially in in Hip Hop, is because we have seen them fail twice. The first time with these two is when they were coming up. Both had to deal with struggles as far as getting attention and respect from their peers. Eminem it may seem wouldn’t have any trouble due to his skin color, but way, way back then being a white rapper was something that was not as inviting as it is today. Especially since Vanilla Ice was the last big known rapper at the time, and, we seen what happen to him when his background got called into question. So when it came time for Em to rise he had to work twice as hard to get that respect that Vanilla Ice made harder for him to earn.
With Kanye West his struggle came from his content and style of fashion. Which seems silly now since everybody is basically dressing like him and two other rap acts at the moment. But back then, nobody was really checking for Kanye West. His style of clothing and music didn’t match the drug dealing, grimey, throwback Jersey, Doo-Rag, XXXXXL shirts, baggy pants, timberline wearing, and gangster mentality era around 2003-2004. Jay Z and 50 Cent were around at the time two of the biggest acts right next to Em. You had Em in his own lane, but the majority of Hip Hop was about to be taken over with 50 Cent’s thug like army fatigued out style of music. Kanye West trying to come in and wear bright pink Polo shirts and Gucci backpacks seem weird and out of place. He was even believed to be gay as former label mate question his sexuality back then. We seen these two men face a uphill battle that at times looked like they weren’t going to win. But later on we were proved wrong as they took on the adversity and become future Hip Hop and Music Hall of Famers.
But speed up to now, and you have to ask how they are still able to connect with a audience that is no where near their tax bracket, and more than likely may never be. The answer is easy. We seen them struggle again. With Eminem it is when he tried to re-marry his former ex wife Kim again in 2006. But then just a couple months later they were divorced in a heartbeat as they agreed to a to a out of court settlement. He tried to make things work again but, some things are better left apart. Then of course in that same year his best friend and reason for him entering the rap game, Proof, was shot and killed outside of a nightclub. Eminem retreated from music and went into deep depression. He was also subscribing to many, many different pills around that time and almost ended up killing himself. They said if he had shown up two hours later to the hospital that he would of been dead on arrival. He would later return to music and release “Relapse”. A very dark, honest raw and at times humorous album detailing his drug addiction problems from the previous years. It was lyrically a very dense album and didn’t have much replay value to some around that time and ended up selling poorly to his standards. A year later he would release “Recovery” to a much stronger response from fans and critics alike. It spawned two of Eminem’s biggest singles to date in “Not Afraid” and “Love the way you lie” with Rihanna. A couple years later he would go on to release “The Marshall Mathers Lp 2” and earn another platinum record and respect from fans and even some critics once again. He was back on the mountain top.
With Kanye West and his second struggle, we seen him deal with the death of his mother in front of the world. That lead him to a dark place as he went away from his award winning sound from 2007 which earned him top honors across the boards that year with the album “Graduation” , and ended up releasing his own “Relapse” like album titled “808’s and Heartbreaks”. The album detailed his life’s struggles about fame, women, his mother’s passing, etc. Kanye West’s problems became worse in 2009 when he jumped on stage and interrupted Taylor Swift’s MTV award speech for “Best Female Video”, after he felt like Beyonce should of won that award instead. The next day it was Kanye West that was on everybody’s hit list and was damn near the most hated man in the world. Even Barack Obama chimed in on the incident. It seemed as if Kanye West was done and about to be buried alive by the industry. That is, until 2010 when he returned with the music and Hip Hop classic “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” . It was hailed by critics and fans alike as one of the best albums of all time. Kanye was clearly back in everyone’s good graces after that.
Both these men have went through a struggle twice before our eyes. We were able to connect with them again because we have all been there when face with odds staked against us. By seeing these men deal with the bullshit again we were able to hold off the pitchforks and knives to try and tear them down. They had become human again. It was a connection to the product just like Lance Clayton’s son’d death had did with his high school friends and teachers. They were still able to feel like the letters were about them and not just his son’s own world. With Eminem and Kanye West the songs felt more strong because, again it felt like they were talking to one person at a time with their content and themes, all because of the 2nd struggle they went through. Had they not have had went through any problems and almost become bulletproof to a certain aspect, they may have not have been able to be seen as artists that are able to still make a….(Thought I was going to say connection again huh? Oh wait. Damn) solid bond with their fans. If they were left untouched the product costumer aspect between fan and artists may have turned some fans off, and have them searching for artists that are more in tuned with them and their bank account. The other option is basically watching a commercial being sold to them instead of a rapper actually trying to have a message and not just pitch a sale to gain more money.
“YOUR ONLY A CUSTOMER”
Enter Jay Z. Jay Z at one time or another was firmly for the people. When he first came out he was passed off as just another fake gangster rapper that was trying too hard to be something hes not. When the people involved with Hip Hop like the gatekeepers somewhat seen the artwork, videos, and heard the content for one of his triple classic trifecta “Reasonable Doubt” they passed him off as a rapper being rapper. They, along with my older cousin who is a huge fan now had no idea about his past. But, Biggie Smalls endorsed him and also had him on a couple of songs before he passed away a couple years later. As the years went on, more awareness about his pass of being a real former drug dealer would slowly be reveled inch by inch. His street status (Which is still important in Hip Hop to some extent these days) was confirmed as real. Jay Z was really moving major weight back in his days before he made the transition to being a rapper. He had one foot in and one foot out. Fast forward and the rest is history as he became one of the greatest rappers of all time. But with Jay he was never “that guy” persay. While Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent were killing the charts doing massive numbers, Jay Z remained underground somewhat and had a connection with the people. I missed his run in the early 2000’s but, going back and hearing stories from my cousins and his friends I get the impression he always had his finger on the pulse of the streets. He, like his drug past had one foot in and one foot out as far as the streets and rap game was concerned. In wrestling terms he was the “People’s Champion”.
But around 2009 he made another transition into the mainstream world as he began to leave the streets alone completely. He, again in wrestling terms now had become the “Corporate Champion” . Around 2009 Jay Z released one of his biggest hits today with R&B singer Alicia Keys called “Empire State of Mind”. It became one of the biggest hits of that year and caused Jay Z to be catapulted into the mainstream eyes. Add this with the fact that his relationship and marriage to his Wife Beyonce was now more known around this time which lead to Jay Z now having more public eyes on him due to her fan base as well. Jay Z no longer was playing hot potato with the streets. The man that once felt like he was on the same path as his fans now had a barricade blocking them from running along side with him, and started to sell them tickets just to see him run more further. Granted, this has always been the case. While his fans were busting their ass working a shitty job they couldn’t stand, Jay Z was touring around the world fucking any and every type of ass that could be handed to him. It was ALWAYS a separation between fan and artist. That is always in the background. But with Jay Z and many others before and after him, during the come up it still feels like we the fans are on the ride with him. It feels like we are part of the team just like sports fans feel like they are the ones that win the championship when their team wins towards the end of the season. Jay Z made it seem like we can pop bottles with him during a certain time in his career. Especially with a video like this which shows Jay Z riding around in his car talking with fans, buying food, and randomly hitting up a nightclub to chill with his crew and have fun with the grimest people in New York City. Jay Z felt like he was ours and nobody else could have him.
“FUCK THE PEOPLE”
Which brings me to this post I read about right here on my favorite Hip Hop blog site. The writer is basically saying he knows Jay Z will never be able to go back to his street hustling days of the mid-90’s and early 2000’s, but he would still like for him to TRY and at least rap at that level he once use to do. He wants Jay to not seem like a product that is trying to make a buck off his fans. There is no longer a bond with the artist and fan anymore. And to this, I say, “Are you surprised?”. Of course there is a little nostalgia when it came to that article, but also when you look deeper into it like I addressed in my first post ever on this blog, the fans don’t want the artist to become TOO famous because it makes it seem as if the fan can’t be as successful as the artist. Its why we love (Especially in Hip Hop) when our artist makes it to the top and also fails at the same time. When Jay Z went through the incident with his wife’s sister Solange, the fans all around jumped on it and loved every second of it. Not because they wanted Jay to get hurt but, because they wanted to see a human moment with Jay Z. Its been so long since the fans have seen a human moment with this man and also his wife as well. Even in the latest vice post right here which talks about the latest “On the Run” tour with him and his wife headlining, they say the tour felt TOO perfect. Not so much a bad thing but, it was really stiff. There was not a beat off with it. It was very robotic like a commercial. The problem with these two bloggers and the rest of the world don’t understand is that this was ALWAYS suppose to be the main goal.
There was NEVER exclusivity with the costumer and product. In all forms of entertainment and sales it is about selling the product and making as much money as the seller can. Jay Z is not doing anything wrong. WE, are doing the wrong by thinking they give a fuck about us after a certain point. They can’t sell without us but they damn sure act like they don’t give a fuck about us. Its all about appealing to our emotions and making more of a profit. Jay Z doesn’t need to make records for just his core fans anymore. He has fans that don’t even know what his first album was, but they just LOVE the new songs with him and Justin Timeberlake and Beyonce so, it really doesn’t matter. If he made music for just his core base he will never be able to sell as many records as he is doing now. Plus, it wouldn’t be believable if Jay Z started talking about being on the corner and selling drugs when he was just shaking hands with the President of the United States. The only time that worked was when he made a concept album about the movie “American Gangster” in 2007 talking about his street life. It worked because he hid behind it being a “concept album”. It gave him free reign to talk about his past life without messing up his corporate money.
The point is basically this like I talked about in this post as well. The ones at top don’t want the people to have a free mind. They need to people to be deaf and blind to the undercurrent of what is going on in the world. Everybody can’t be the star of the show. Someone has to be the buyer in order to maintain control and keep things civilized. So the best thing to do is sell a product that has a connection with the audience so it makes it seem like its a journey the fan is on with them. But at a certain point a disconnect happens and the core fans are no longer needed to sell. Jay Z is now able to make records with having to please a certain group anymore. Hell, he doesn’t even need to sell his ticket prices at a reasonable price anymore. But again, Jay Z isn’t doing anything wrong. He and every other person involved in selling product at a certain point is just trying to maintain a lifestyle he is used to. Its the same reason why wives that divorce their husbands want as much as they can because they are used to shopping at certain places. Walmart is no longer a option at a certain point. Jay Z is simply surviving and moving forward. People that give him shit for not making the type of music that THEY want to still hear from 14 years ago don’t get it. In life, it is all about moving forward.
He and many others are doing this every single day. Its our fault for having this ideology about the artist owing us something. The fact is, they don’t owe us shit. This is prostitution on the highest level. You can’t blame the girl for not wanting to spend time with you for free. You want to live in the fantasy world of having a beautiful girl on your arm without doing the hard work that is needed to gain her attention? Then you better cough up the money so you can have your dreams play out in reality. The soul ends when more dead men begin. Meaning, at a certain point it comes down to surviving and building a retirement fund at the end of your life. You ,and I as well are not friends nor family with Jay Z. This is how he even started making money to begin with with the drug game. I am sure he wasn’t hanging out with his customers after selling them some drugs. You can’t blame Coke or Pepsi for not sending you a tax refund around February because you brought their soda. Nobody told you to. We, are all customers to a certain extent at the end of the day. The pimp doesn’t just wear fancy bright clothes. They also wear suits and carries briefcases around too. The world doesn’t owe us shit.