New Hip Hop sensation 2 Chainz said the very line I used as the title in his song “Crack” to echo the sentiment used by many supposed ex-drug dealers turned rappers concerning money; if the rap money runs out then the crack money will always be there.
It is an interesting admission being that it gives transparency to a world that runs off of drug money, gangsters, and reformed thugs. This isn’t a diss as much as it is truth. One of the original groups to have exposed the money behind the music was N.W.A. who used the drug money from hustler turned band leader Eric “Easy-E” Wright to pay for the studio time and venues needed to get themselves noticed. NWA was not the only group to start out thisway and as their businesses grew it allowed for them to become more and more legitimate.
Started in the trap now I rap!
People always looked at the West Coast and the South as being the only rappers to have paid for studio time via drug money, but much of the East, specifically New York hustlers were paying for their gigs in very much the same way. Names like Pappy Mason, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, and Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory are praised in older hip hop songs because when it came to money and having a Don help you get into the industry chances are you would have to come close to powerful gangsters like them. Let Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson tell it.
It is for this reason you hear so many of your favorite new artists spitting drug raps. Hip Hop is in a place where you have either been part of that life or you have to lie that you have been part of that life. I don’t pretend to believe that every rapper has cooked crack cocaine at one point in their life, but I will bet that quite a few have. This doesn’t take away from their talent or the fact that we enjoy hearing their sound, but crack did build a good portion of Hip Hop and we would be foolish to pretend that it didn’t.
What Does This Tell Us?
Whenever I hear about violence breaking out between rival sets at a music award, whether it be Bloods and Crips or some other gangs it doesn’t surprise me. Snoop Lion throwing up signs across an auditorium at Suge Knight is not shocking. This is the foundation of a large portion of the Hip Hop genre and it always will be. The other day I heard Lil’ Wayne proclaiming himself as a Blood gang member and we all know some of the proudest members of their fellowship have been GAME, Gucci Mane, and again Suge Knight. Watch enough Young Jeezy videos and you will catch him throwing up the C for Crip to reinforce affiliation. These are newer guys with enough money to bring in newer guys – it’s gang music for a gang nation.
This isn’t to say that gang affiliation means that these rappers are murderers and thieves but it will explain a lot of what we hear in their lyrics. “No matter where I’m at I got crack!” is one of the most honest lines I have heard in a song because I think on Beanie Sigel, T.I., and many other guys who we thought to be too rich to be “about that life” being thrown into prison for holding. The streets is Hip Hop and continue to be Hip Hop despite the argument that many of them are fake.
I personally wish that many of these young men would go 100% legit once they start selling albums but there is a dark, cloudy area of the industry that is still a huge mystery. Many aren’t making what we think they are and so “hustlin” is always going on to maintain that lifestyle. Every rapper hasn’t transcended the game like a Jay-Z or a 50 Cent, but they came from the drug and gun beginnings that many other rappers do and I bet that if the bottom was to fall out from either of these men the crack game will be there waiting with open arms.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.