Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Tony Grands
The first time I heard Tyga rap was years ago, on a song with his cousin Travie McCoy (lead singer of Gym Class Heroes) called “Coconut Juice.” There was nothing special about the song, but it was catchy enough to embed itself into my subconscious.You know those songs that burrow deep & forever live in the automatic memory echoes that haunt you from time to time when it’s too quiet?
Yeah, well, one of those songs. For this reason, I’ve always listened whenever I heard his name whispered down Hip Hop’s restless hallway.
Later down the line, as he hitched his proverbial wagon to
Baby Williams’ Lil Wayne’s Young Money train, I found out that he was from Compton, & it’s always cool to see a dude from California make a name for himself in rap without glorifying gang violence, per se. Plus, I don’t think he’s a half-bad rapper, if you don’t count the follow the leader-type of music that he makes. By that I mean that he has the potential to be his own momentum, but seems to piggyback current trends rather than bucking them. Hip Hop is perpetual repetition, & it’s impossible to escape the clutches of what’s “hot,” but on the same token, everybody isn’t meant to be a virtual sheep or lemming, either.
Tyga is a semi-superstar in comparison to his labelmates/boss/should-be mentors Lil Wayne, Drake, & Nick Minaj, yet has more gravity than other Moneyites like Bow Wow & Lil ______. Between that & the popularity of his “Rack City,” it was probably easy for him to make his wise choice of transition into the porn industry.
Yes, the porn industry, rap music’s ratchet ass cousin.
Tyga recently made the announcement that he’ll be starting a porn site, RackCity.XXX, & will be involved firsthand with supplying young perverts with all they need to keep them locked in their bedrooms & basements, chafing, raw, & forever alone. Nevertheless, rappers these days all seem to follow the same path, using a recycled template of bland, blind merchandising, but Tyga, whose videos are already porn–word to WSHH, didn’t go the alcohol or ear buds route. Instead, he’s resorting to mental prostitution, & that’s the smartest thing I’ve seen a rapper do all year.
Making music & money from said music at the same [damn] time seems to be tricky business. If it were easy, everyone would be successful at it. Countless guys come into the game with a satchel full of ideas & a story to tell but lack a bigger stratagem. Relying on rap & only rap is putting all your eggs in the most fickle basket ever. It seems the notion of instant gratification & momentary success overshadow the broader scope of the prime directive. That directive
is should be to get money AND keep getting it. From my vantage point, too many pipe dreams get popped & the end results are rappers who are here today, gone in 15 minutes. With the right attitude, though, an artist can use rap world notoriety as a springboard into real world success. All it takes is reasonable planning & a realistic outlook on an inevitable future landscape.
Maybe it’s the fact that Young Money only focuses on its top tier earners (& doesn’t pay people), but Tyga obviously knows there’s more to rap life than just rapping & pandering whatever products, daydreams, & services as the next man for the sake of staying important. Making a name for yourself means nothing if you don’t attach it to something worth while. & I’ve mentioned before, ever rap star isn’t going to be blessed with the fortified longevity of Jay-Z or Nas. It would behoove any up & coming rap cats to make Plan B as relevant & tangible as Plan A. A rapper may have the ability to “rap” all day, but if no one is willing to pay him for it, it’s as useful as being really good at self-loving.
Being a recognizable public figure is as much about being a status symbol as it is about it being a career choice. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be the end game of one’s journey into personal professionalism & life enhancement. “Get money, by any means necessary,” as Junior Mafia & Malcolm X would say, respectively.
As for Tyga’s new venture, as long as he keeps Brian Pumper away from his productions, the industry will probably welcome him open… Nah. Too easy.
Words by Tony Grands