by Vincent Tan
It’s not surprising that the average person glares incredulously at someone who makes $20million per year yet somehow can’t ‘scrape by’. That said, Cristal doesn’t pay for itself, and haters gonna hate, so let’s take an objective look at three cases of famous rappers whose rationalisations for their career missteps may be questionable.
Recall Kanye’s “selfless” act when he went on stage at the 2009 VMAs, interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, and claimed Beyonce’s song should have won? After the furore, he attempted to flatter Swift by including her in his song Famous, with the tenderly conciliatory lines “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex” and “Goddamn, I made that b***h famous”. His brand of humility was on display, when he pointed out on Twitter, since he is “the greatest artist of all time”, Mark Zuckerberg should invest US$1 billion in his ideas, thereby supporting the entire arts industry – and not, as he recently claimed, because he was broke. As Kanye would certainly agree, you can’t put a price tag on vision.
Most amazingly, he took a cue from Netflix by releasing his new album only through a monthly subscription service, becoming possibly the first artist ever to refuse to sell his songs via conventional means. Thus, it’s arguable, especially if you’re Kanye, that the bootleg downloads of The Life of Pablo that promptly ran to half a million can be attributed to jealousy in the face of genius, rather than people who (maybe) like his music, but can’t tolerate him personally, deciding they didn’t want to help crowd-fund The Kanye’s billion dollar bid.
You may call 50 Cent homophobic for calling gay men “faggots” in 2004*, but ultimately in a perverse way, it may be that he’s just being true to himself, since that’s the way he actually thinks. After all, it’s ok to use a slur once you admit “I’m prejudiced”. The moment Young Buck led a chant of “F*** G-Unit” at a 50 Cent concert, he somehow forfeited his rights to privacy, tacitly allowing 50 Cent to release a taped phone call of him begging to be let back into the group due to money issues. Taking the moral high-ground, they did recently get back together, showing that Fiddy is indeed the bigger man.
In the face of the back-and-forth rap/social media feud he had with Ricky Ross, it was then high time for 50 Cent to release a sex tape involving Ricky’s ex-partner Lavonia Leviston. Sharing it to embarrass his rival was not thoughtless, since Fiddy could not have foreseen the collateral damage it would do to her public reputation. Driven into bankruptcy by Lavonia’s subsequent lawsuit, “Fiddy” has now taken the even bolder stand to represent all Americans’ civil rights, declaring that his creditors are violating the US Constitution and subjecting him to “indentured servitude” in order to pay off an unfortunate defamation lawsuit, and thus even in adversity Fiddy remains a patriot and freedom fighter to the end.
* His words, not ours.
Lauryn Hill, another bold advocate for race-related high-net-worth-income-tax-justice has a history of being hounded by what she claims to be biased tax officials. A day before she was to serve a three month bid for multi-million dollar tax evasion, in a tone reminiscent of the great Dr Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, she wrote on Tumblr about the perils of white imperialism as it related to taxes levied on her multi-million dollar rap fortune.
Asserting that “I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them… I had an economic system imposed on me”, the system continued to cruelly hound her even after she had served her time, with the Grammys going so far as planning her paid performance in a subsequent live duet without her approval, and garnering false testimony that she had been seen at an earlier rehearsal. Threats to her “safety, health and freedom” continue to stop her from fulfilling her obligations to arrive on time at her concerts, thereby undermining her ability to make an honest enough living to properly pay her back taxes. The System, FTW.