Immigrants have been part of the culture since its inception. People from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the U.S., and other countries have made history within the culture. The children of these immigrants also became part of the culture and since New York is a melting pot thousands upon thousands of immigrants and their children came to this country and for some of them the first thing they remember when they arrived was Hip Hop. No matter where a person’s heritage is derived the culture has always been open to everybody. However, sometimes people that we let into the culture don’t do anything besides rape and pillage. Lyor Cohen has been a staple in the Rap industry since he linked up with Russell Simmons in the early eighties. For those who don’t know Lyor you might recognize him from recent photos with Kanye West and The Breakfast Club throwing up what is widely known as the “white power” sign.
Now I can’t give you all the dirty details about how Lyor has gotten rich off of the backs of hard working emcees. Lyor like all top record executives is on a merry-go-round with major record labels and other entertainment companies. At one time Lyor was one of the “gatekeepers” and in some aspects he still is because he has maintained those oh so important relationships that we talked about last week. A man repeatedly reminding you that he is siding with those who don’t have you, your family, or your community’s best interest in mind is not going to make you any deal that’s not beneficial to you. “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Going against your better judgment to “partner” with a Lyor type is not going to pay off for you in the end as there can only be one person getting the payoff. Then when people like Rich the Kid find themselves in bad business situations and wanting to get out guess what, they’re stuck! Hip Hop Culture was started by Black and brown kids in New York so we have to be careful who we let into the culture. It’s cool for people who have been documented as being respectful towards the culture and paying homage to their influences. You can have a homegrown immigrant like Post Malone or the Beastie Boys who switch from some other genre into Hip Hop/Rap music.
Lyor doesn’t care about true artist development and couldn’t care less about how many pills or lean your favorite rapper is ingesting or promoting because in Lyor’s own words, “I’ve got mouths to feed.” This is why the culture needs to become more independent because leeches like Lyor will continue to find a way to weasel themselves into the business of the culture. Admittedly, Lyor claims to support talented rappers over self-destructive rappers and used DMX as an example. You think he’s changed in his old age? You can’t be that desperate to get on if you can upload your own music to stream on any platform, you can manage your own social media accounts, and you can go on tour without a major label or a “partnership.” So tell me again how you need who for what because last time I checked you can do bad all by yourself.
“Believe what I say when I tell you.” – DMX (4,3,2,1)