Pop Culture Pipeline: The True Story of Rap Music and the Prison Complex



Words by Cordrick Ramey

90% of what Americans read, watch or listen to is controlled by six media companies. Some might say, “so what.” But herein lies the problem.

Do you know who the main investors in the corporations that serve us Hip Hop are? Would you believe me if I told you that they are also the main investors in the prison industry?

I present to you, The Vanguard Group Incorporated. Who just so happens to be the third largest holder in Viacom. Some may continue to say, “that proves nothing.” Ok, dig a little deeper and we find Blackrock, the number one holder of both Viacom and Time Warner. Blackrock is also the second largest holder in Corrections Corporation of America, second only to Vanguard.


You don’t have to believe me. Do your own research. (But I’m right.) So if the same people who own private prisons are the same people who own mass media, this may be the exact reason your cousin or your husband is locked up now. To further demonstrate this idea, I found a graph courtesy of Musical Hegemony that will provide better detail.


a. The Vanguard Group is the largest shareholder of CCA (SEC, 2013a).

b. The Vanguard Group is the second largest shareholder of Warner Music Group (Bloomberg, 2013a).

c. The Vanguard Group are also the third largest shareholder of Viacom (Bloomberg, 2013b).

d. The Vanguard Group are also the third largest shareholder in GEO (SEC, 2013, b).

e. BlackRock is the second largest holder in CCA (SEC, 2013a).

f. BlackRock is the largest shareholder in Warner Music Group (Bloomberg, 2013a).

g. BlackRock is also the largest holder in Viacom (Bloomberg, 2013b).

h. Vivendi (Universal Music Group) bought one half of EMI’s operations in 2011 for $1.9 billion (Sisario, 2011).

i. Sony bought the other half of EMI’s operations in 2011 for $2.2 billion (Sisario, 2011).

j. Sony was funded in part by the Blackstone investment group for this deal to purchase EMI (Sisario, 2011).

k. BlackRock is a subsidiary of Blackstone (BlackRock, 2013).

l. Sony and Viacom have reached a tentative deal to stream cable channels (Stelter, 2013).

m. CCA and GEO have spent a combined total of $24 million lobbying government (ITPI, 2012, p. 5).

n. Federal and State governments pass laws lobbied for by CCA and GEO

o. Which are imposed by Law Enforcement

p. Law Enforcement provide CCA and GEO with prisoners

q. CCA and GEO provide cheap labour to business affiliates (Cummings, 2012).

So just to reiterate, The Vanguard Group, the number one shareholder in Corrections Corporations of America, is the second largest shareholder of Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers by way of Asylum Records used to be the parent company for 1017 Brick Squad Records founded by Gucci Mane. Gucci and his prison label mates released a total of six albums for the label. The relationship dissolved in 2012. Roughly two years later, Gucci found another way to make money for The Vanguard Group, as property of Corrections Corporations of America.


Sony Music was funded by Blackstone, a subsidiary of Blackrock, to aid in the purchase of EMI Records. Don’t forget, Blackrock is the second largest shareholder in Corrections Corporations of America and the largest shareholder in Warner Bros and  Viacom.

Back to EMI, they held ownership of little label called Priority. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Home to Ruthless Records, No Limit, Roc-A-Fella for a minute, and Rap-A-Lot. Just those names alone, brings a feeling gangs, guns, decadence, drugs, and violence. Blackstone knew this was the ideal situation to make an investment. Maybe they will sell a few records, but the brainwashing is where the real money comes into play.

Think about it, when you have ultimate access to everything  a person reads, sees, or hears….why not experiment a little. All people of color have been used as this planet’s guinea pigs at some point. See the Tuskegee Experiment and The Willie Lynch Letter for closer confirmation. This is another form of keeping the (insert color here) man down.

You see, when the privatization of prisons became a real thing, investors became fascinated with nothing more than increasing their investments. What is the best way to increase your investment if you own a prison? Easy. Make more prisoners. Even if they are not real criminals. Even if that means continuously driving and drumming ignorant shit in your direction day, after day after day. Even if it’s made into a commercial.

Now that was a joke of course, but I’m sure you have heard some commercials that are not too far from that. But all jokes aside, only on black urban radio can you hear commercials to beat your DUI case, that you caught from a commercial last week concerning a Turn Up Tuesday party.

My point is the people or company, or entity, that serves us the closest, have absolutely no interest in our well being. If we are all dollar signs, they can sell us Kool-Aid, crack , weave, high interest loans, or even a chance to become state property. It sounds comical, but it’s not. How many commercials have you heard on urban radio about investments and financial empowerment? Rush Card don’t count. I’ll wait.

So the next time you hear The Migos talking about trapping out of a bando, remember to thank Time Warner, who owns Atlantic Records. Don’t forget about Vanguard, as the third largest holder in Time Warner.  As fun and as sexy as a bando sounds, the consequences of association will have you paying Time Warner twice. One as a record company, the other as  state property because of where the bando lead you.

Words by Cordrick Ramey
Visit Cordrick at HipHopFullCircle


2 comments on “Pop Culture Pipeline: The True Story of Rap Music and the Prison Complex

  1. Technique says:

    I believe this to be 100% the way shit works. Growing up without a real pops at home I looked at rappers like super heroes and spent 15 plus years trying to act out what I learned in rap songs. Until I eventually got sent to the penitentiary. I was sentenced to 5 years, but by the grace of God was only gone for 8 months. It was enough time to realize it was all bullshit. I still love Hip Hop but I look at it differently now.

    Liked by 1 person

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