People will come up with the most egregious shit if they drink the wrong kind of kool aid, and have too much time on their hands. I’m not here to point fingers or ridicule, just generally interested in the pitfalls of the human mind, the vocal super-minority, the grand ideologies that we as humans adapt to cope. My goal is to analize and dissect those narratives, to find the plot holes and to dive deep into their implications. Lastly, at least in my opinion, there is usually a psychological need, a grain of truth, a degree of vulnerability and hope to every narrative. That is what this series is about.
The first spin is part of a Black Supremacist narrative that revolves around black popular culture being an opressive institution dominated by “the man” (almost always Jews). The hottest of all takes comes from self-declared activist Deric Muhammad:
In the late eighties, so-called “gangsta rap” took the nation by storm when a young Black entrepreneur named Eric Wright a.k.a. “Eazy E” assembled some of the finest talent to be found in the Los Angeles/Compton area to form the legendary collective N.W.A. The group captured an untapped market selling millions of albums with no commercial radio play. These record sales did wonders to fill the coffers of Ruthless Records, which was owned by Wright who took on a partner by the name of Jerry Heller. Heller was a veteran music executive who once represented artists like Marvin Gaye. The group’s most creative geniuses, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, eventually left the group citing unfair compensation. Accusations flew that Eazy conspired with Heller to rob the other members of royalties that were rightfully theirs.
From my limited knowledge that is how it went down, but then again there is little to no evidence, only conflicting statements. Of course, This is just the introduction to the topic. It sadly ends with the following quote:
Heller happens to be Jewish.
Which is pretty much the entire text in a nutshell. After all this went down, Ice Cube wrote the disstrack “No Vaseline”, which famously featured this line:
Used to be a homie now you act like you don’t know me [directed at MC Ren]. It’s a case of divide and conquer ‘Cause you let a Jew [Heller] break up my crew
The diss sparked a lot of controversy, famously Heller even called in the Jewish Defense League, which called Ice Cube out on his “anti-semitic” lyrics. Whether they really are anti-semitic is entirely up for debate. I for my part thought it was unnecessary to call him out on his Jewishness, since it didn’t seem to be relevant at all. The relation I see is that of a rich, well-connected executive profitting off of poor, black urban kids. Cube responded to JDL allegations, interestingly enough, saying: “I respect Jewish people because they’re unified. I wish black people were as unified.” And I can’t help but think that he’s got a point there. There was (is?) no equivalent to the JDL for the Afro-American community. There was no powerful lobby. Even after the sixties, there simply wasn’t. Ice Cube calling for unity is something that resonated with lots of people, and is, for him, the positive aspect in his admittedly violent, graphic, angry poetry. So far, so bad. This is the point where the theory devolves into a pretty deep rabbit hole. Deric Muhammad:
There is only one solution to this problem. I recently heard that many accuse rappers Kanye West, Jay-Z and others of being members of the “Illuminati”, or secret society. It, personally, sounds bizarre to me. However, in my humble opinion, they need to start something similar. Artists need to convene a private meeting of some sorts to determine the best way to chart a course that frees hip-hop artists from such inordinate control. We must learn how to settle differences among ourselves so that our personal disagreements don’t leave Black-owned companies, like Roc-a-fella Records, in the hands of the “clean-up men.” The enormous influence of a collective group of hip-hop artists backed by the Black community could hold enough weight to make these crooked executives bend to its collective will. The only solution to this problem is UNITY, organization, fearlessness, selflessness and the desire to free the art form and its culture from the control of outside forces.
Here is a man proposing for black artists to unite under the guise of a “Illuminati” like conspiracy to deflect the alleged Jewish conspiracy. Not only does this undermine all the points he (might have) made, it just leaves a bad aftertaste, especially after reading line after line about this or that exec. being Jewish (I spared you the quotes, half the text is essentially name-calling). Though in subsumation I have to say this is still one of the tamest conspiracy theories I’ve come along recently. Some of it is even somewhat historically true. Muhammad is strongest when he conjures up black history:
Some of our greatest icons, such as Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, “Little” Richard (and the list goes on) lived rich, yet died broke while Jewish managers, accountants, attorneys, business advisors and others fed their families for years off of their largess. Few entertainers in the history of Black America have been able to say that their assets and true net worth were as prominent as their talent and popularity. Sadly, hip-hop is no different. And while hip-hop has produced a handful of millionaires, they are like a teardrop in the Pacific Ocean when compared to the many rappers who, like most Black people, are living “show-to-show” and “check-to-check.”
The text has some pretty vile anti-semitic rhetoric, feeds the everlasting Stereotype of the greedy Jew, and is generally just an opinion piece dressed up as fact. Sources are never cited.
What this piece does reveal however, completely unintentionally, is that vocal minority groups like the Nation of Islam or the 5% Nation do have pretty significant impact in African-American (popular) culture. Almost regularly a rap artist will come out with an anti-semitic tweet or diss and voice his anger, frustration, pain. A 2017 article in “The Observer” focussed on Lupe Fiasco, who said the following in the single “N.E.R.D.”:
“Artists getting robbed for their publishing / By dirty Jewish execs who think that it’s alms from the covenant.”
Of course the ADL jumped on it, and Twitter wars followed. The fallout was that Lupe ended up naming names: Lyor Cohen, Craig Kallman, two execs who both fucked him over at various points in his career. The article itself was written by a Jewish member of staff, who gripes with the issue of anti-semitisms’ collateral damage: What about all the Jews who aren’t extremely wealthy record execs? Why denounce them, too? And at the same time struggles with the structural history, the material reality of Jewish execs exploiting black artists throughout history. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the ambivalence of the topic: https://observer.com/2017/02/music-industry-history-dividing-blacks-and-jews/
The sad thing about this dilemma is that while racial accusations are thrown around everywhere, the real culprit isn’t even named. Poor artists are exploited by rich execs, everywhere around the world, irregardless of ethnicity. The superstructure that allows exploitation is capitalism. The increasingly desperate, cartel-like situation in American media: Film, Music.. Seems to either be ignored or ascribed to racialist conspiratorial notions: “Hollywood is Jewish!” The invisible damage that these narratives are doing is that they divert the focus from these obviously structural issues (of which systemic racism, no doubt, is also one) and shift the blame to an easily identifiable (i.e.: Jewish) yet somehow ominous cabal, in order to craft a narrative that is easier to spread and exploit.
Greetings from the Rabbit Hole. Yours sincerely,