I love hip-hop, from Grandmaster Flash to Mick Jenkins to Lil Kim to Leikeli47 to Drake, however, nowhere in any of my articles have I stated that I love what some of the hip-hop culture appropriates. On one side, there’s lavish living, high-consumption lifestyles, spending without investing, gold chains, fancy cars etc. and the other side appropriates saving money, fun and modesty. I will discuss both. Let’s be clear, the above-mentioned flaws are not the only things that the hip-hop culture appropriates but it is the most discussed, glorified, and envied. Why, you may ask?
The way the American mind is set up, not everyone’s but most, is that if you make a great deal of money, you should live a certain way. Thus, if you’re a rapper, you should wear gaudy chains, drive a fancy new car every week, buy boats and get your mom that big house she always wanted and although there’s nothing technically wrong with that, its skewed from a financial perspective. The flashy music videos, double watches, huge diamond rings and love for the finer things is what a good bulk of the hip-hop culture exploits and encourages with lyrics like, “I park my Bentley truck on my Versace driveway.” However, there are also rap bars like “Invest in your future, don’t dilute your finances, 401K, make sure it’s low risk, Then get some real estate (how much?), four point two percent Thirty year mortgage, that’s important…” from Kendrick Lamar in “YOLO.”
Hip-hop lives in that well-ranged dichotomy of fun and personal anecdotes. Some rappers came from the “bottom,” from nothing and what happens to those who had nothing and then acquire an abundance – they are either extremely frugal or extremely reckless or in a perfect world, somewhere in between the two. The reckless aren’t completely idiotic just ill-informed on how to truly make riches grow to wealth. The objective of money shouldn’t only be to spend it. Spending money is cool but quickly destructive. To rappers money is expendable because some of them are getting paid six figures for 30 minutes, so to them it may very well be but that probably doesn’t hold true for you and that’s okay!
The art of money making is just like any other art form, it takes practice, research, dedication, advising, patience, and control.
Control is key. It’s that impulsive spending that causes the most destruction – short and long term. We could easily say that the realm of entertainment in general boast heavy dividends and mansion living but for now we are going to focus on hip-hop, one of the greatest genres of musical expression. From the beginning with Grandmaster Flash’s gaudy chains to Lil Kim’s $20,000 outfits to Paul Wall’s “Smile for Me Daddy” grills, it’s no wonder we want to wear the Balenciaga’s that look like socks, when we can’t even afford a pair of Balenciaga socks. We love living beyond our means attempting to impress people that don’t even give a damn about rather we got-it-like-that or we don’t.
Wealth is built off discipline not music video idolizations, bad b**** goals, ridiculous gold chains (similar to slavery if you ask me) and mansion scuba diving but the hip-hop culture encourages such erroneous acts. Why? Number one, it makes for great song topics. People don’t always want to hear someone whining about the struggle, sometimes they want to hear music about fancy cars, maids and top floor living. Number two, it makes more money. You don’t think that these brands make money every time a big rapper endorses their brand? Now, kids in the hood are asking for the Balenciaga sneakers that look like socks for Christmas. When I was younger I couldn’t even spell Balenciaga, let alone ask for it and expect my mom to spend her rent money and light bill on my Christmas shoes.
Hip-hop culture is fashion, its cars, its huge homes, its beautiful women, its bag-talk, and personal narratives.
This generation of men and woman alike are growing up with a complex of money, money, money, and some of the hip-hop culture gives birth to that mentality. We are made to believe that money equivocates to a plethora of arm candy, expensive jewelry, personal chefs and I-made-it-out-the-hood achievements and some of that holds very true but hip-hop will also forever be the diary of the streets, the bible of storytelling and a contributing factor to the rise of black excellence. Don’t let how you feel about money, how you earn money, how you spend your money be influenced by rappers alone. Love hip-hop but be leery of its cultural and financial influences.