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Date: Feature Week of April 4, 2004
Topic: Black Press Business/Economic
Author: William Reed
Article ID: article_ema040404a


Is This Blacks’ Means For Better Economics?

It’s like a jungle sometimes; it makes me wonder how I keep from going under. - Grandmaster Flash, “The Message” 1982

Over the last 30 years, black America has experienced growth in its number of millionaires.  Most of this "New Black Power," springs from young African American hip-hop artists’ records, tours and fashion sales.

In this new black power community, Curtis Jackson is at the top of his game.  The rapper now known as “50 Cent,” was born in 1976 in South Jamaica, New York to a 15-year-old drug dealer.  She died when he was eight.  Six years later, three of which he spent in jail, Curtis was running his own crack house and making up to $5,000 a day.  It was then that he borrowed the name 50 Cent from another dealer.

50 Cent became one of the richest black men in America with hit albums such as “PIMP” and "Get Rich or Die Tryin'".  But, there is controversy about 50 Cent and his persona.  Some blacks have been heard to say, “If the latter album’s title doubles as 50’s mission statement, it would be in the interest of social progress if he reached the latter fate.”  An American icon, the thinking 50 Cent displays on his tracks is culturally backward.

Rappers, like 50 Cent, have risen to the forefront of American culture.  He dominated hip hop in 2003 and was in the No. 1 position on year-end recaps for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists.  R. Kelly was No. 2.  Sadly, people like 50 Cents, R. Kelly and Nelly use shock techniques and have made the notion of “pimping” synonymous with their image.  Lyrics and images they display on television, music videos and on tours should make black parents and community leaders concerned about how they fashion our youth’s understanding of black masculinity.

Pimping is an underground economy known as "The Game."  Players and pimps are said to "have" game and particular manners and styles of playing the game.  They work outside of the formal economy and collect monies from prostitute women belonging to his stable.  Havin’ game is to: have charisma, and a smooth talking, persuasive conversation toward women.  The most paramount rule in pimping is, "the pimp must get paid".  Is “Pimp style” the sort of role model self-respecting parents want for their kids or in their communities?

The business of top rappers is to write and distribute edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare, drugs and promiscuity.  The nastiest rap sells best, and the nastiest cuts make booming careers.  People of our communities need to ask: How do gang-bangin’ and women-bashing images help our youth toward economic and social production?  Its honest work and economic production that makes people and their communities grow.

The 50 Cent generation of African Americans have 20-inch rims and Courvoisier taste.  They have Rockawear and platinum chains that shine, but miss out on the sobering reality that Black America lacks assets, one of the pillars of stability and security for middle-class whites.  They are just another generation of African Americans with no savings or inheritance to transfer wealth.

Talk is 50 Cent is considering running for the City Council in his upscale Farmington, Connecticut neighborhood.  So far, these considerations have been met with surprising approval from local residents.  He owns a 48,000-square-foot mansion there that he bought for $4.1 million from Mike Tyson’s ex-wife Monica Turner Tyson.  The property includes a 52-room home, servants' quarters, a boathouse 3,500 square foot disco and an indoor pool.  It has 18 bedrooms, 38 bathrooms, seven kitchens, and a theatre and eight-car garage.

50’s worth over $50 million.  Three and a half percent of American households have a net worth of $1 million or more.  They didn’t get there by gamin’.  The average American millionaire comes across as just that: average.  They are not likely to drive expensive cars, live in mansions or wear designer labels.  Typical millionaires usually live below their means, have strong values and participate in the cornerstones of American wealth building: Owning property; a business; investing in long-term, high-return savings vehicles; and paying as little as possible in taxes.


© 2000-2003 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com


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