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


Controversy Corner: Should We Re-Release Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate?”



Ice Cube’s Death Certificate, released in 1991, has been called the “most racist rap album ever.” It’s filled with threats of racial violence towards White America, preaches Black empowerment, and made the angry voice of rebellious Black youth evident and tangible. Continue reading

Meet Eastside Crackhead. He May Be the Realest Rapper Alive (And That Is Terrible)


Words by Cordrick Ramey

Apparently I spend waaaaaay too much time on the Internet trying to find stories to tell. I browse. Make a decision. Browse some more. Find an angle. Sometimes I find dope shit. And sometimes, I just find…..niggas on dope. This latest find, I can’t even decide if it’s is real or not.

Courtesy of VladTV, I present to you Eastside Crackhead. Now this is just an interview, but its the wildest nine minutes and forty-nine seconds I’ve seen all week. Matter of fact, if this is real… I just located the realest dude to ever grace a recording booth. While we sit and listen to tremendous tales of moving keys and breaking down pounds….this is the recipient of such due diligence. So, Yo Gotti, Jeezy, Gucci Mane, TI, Rick Ross, Pusha T and any other rapper  who has moved crack or dope or smack….this is yall fault. And you should be ashamed.

Hilarious, right?

Not so much. I laughed, I was entertained, but this isn’t the proper way we should be displayed. And furthermore, our glorification of the spoils from turning people into fiends, isn’t anything to be celebrated either. But here we are. I’m old enough to remember Ol’ Dirty Bastard OD’ing, Pimp C dying from codeine and Chris Kelly from Kris Kross dying from cocaine and heroin. This ain’t the life. This is death.

635800040649724421-KniccaAs I write this, Koopsta Knicca from Three Six Mafia passed today. It is listed as a brain aneurism and a stroke. I just pray drugs were not involved. We gotta do better people. Life is precious and should never be taken for granted. Perhaps, when real live addicts start telling their stories, the objectification and glorification of such a destructive lifestyle will take a backseat to caring for the average human being. We all have friends and family who may have made the decision to try something that was detrimental to their health at some point in life. You may not look down on them due to the connection, but I’m almost certain you have ignored, ridiculed or turned your nose up to someone you don’t. But just imagine, for every Escobar tale, there was a Pookie song to match it.


Listen to Killer’s verse.

Words by Cordrick Ramey

Visit Hip Hop Full Circle for more from Cordrick.

TGDC News: 9th Grade Texas History Book Shows Whitewashing of American Slave Trade

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I can’t vouch for the validity of the image posted below, but my research leads me to believe this is an actual clip from a 9th grade history book that originated out of a place called Pearland, TX, not too far from Houston.


The caption reads:

The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 100s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.

While this is almost no different than the traditional bending-of-the-truth that occurs throughout one’s primary educational career in America, clearly the underlying tone of slavery has been perforated and reconfigured to serve a purpose outside of education. It’s also important to remember this is just a blurb.

But let’s be clear; American slavery, and all its components, was the most evil, vile, heinous act of deliberate human trafficking to ever occur. People, like you and me, were taken from their homes and forced into inhumane existences in the name of corporate profit and personal greed. Millions lost their lives during the process of an entire race being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually displaced. The implied context of the term “worker” is false, because workers get paid, not beaten, mutilated, raped, and killed. Admittedly, this singular photo isn’t much to go on, but you can only imagine the gravity of the affixed information.

According to this narrative, I expect the story in the textbook jumps from African Americans deciding to try life outside of their jobs on the plantation to Barack Obama’s inauguration speech.

–Tony Grands