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Snake Oil Salesmen: Big Oil and Hip-Hop Don't Mix

Truthout - Rule No. 1 in hip-hop: don't knock the hustle. And KRS-One stated clearly in the first principle of The Hip-Hop Declaration of Peace, that among the nine elements fundamental to the kulture is street entrepreneurialism. It is hard, I understand, to speak ill of a rapper or MC making business moves to better their living and, in some cases, enrich the communities from which they emerged.

And Jay-Z laid the statutes down a decade and half ago: "Let's get together and make this whole world believers at my arraignment/ Screaming, 'all these blacks got is sports and entertainment'/ Until we even, thieving, as long as I'm breathing/ Can't knock the way a ni**a eating; f**k you even/."

But if you adhere blindly to a "can't knock the hustle" philosophy, there's a good chance you feel the same of the "snitching code," meaning, in deference to a morally decrepit conception of solidarity, you're willing to put at risk the lives of innocent victims.

For the record, I hope hip-hop artists, engineers, graffiti painters, b-boys and b-girls, DJs, educators, thinkers, critics, fans and nonreptilian executives make as much money is possible without leaving the crime scene in blood-stained hands. As a cultural force generating multi-billion dollar revenue for giant conglomerates, it's critical we harness the various avenues available for financial empowerment. I write a great deal about artistic independence because I believe it the only route through which artists can double, if not triple, their income in the new decade - while retaining an unblemished soul. My good colleague Cedric Muhammad is more versed in the financial realm and runs a Hip-Hoppreneur™ column on every Tuesday. And we both seem to agree that if the age of economic liberation is upon us, artists would have to move with confidence into the private sector and demand what's theirs.

Thus, when Cash Money CEOs Bryan "Baby" and Ronald "Slim" Williams announced their new oil venture, Bronald Oil, mid-January, many took it as a sign that hip-hop entrepreneurs were stepping on to higher grounds - making "power moves." Unfortunately, more is at stake than a mere business deal, which could rake in some serious money. Read more.


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