We Are All Sellouts!

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This was written in reply to a post by Ronald “@RonGreezy” Grant titled SOUL FOR SALE: HIP HOP AND THE IDEA OF “SELLING OUT” on the blog http://muzikissuestoday.blogspot.com

You like wearing suits? I know I don’t, but I wear one when I go on job interviews, and I’ll wear one if my job requires I do so. See, that’s the way I and many other Black Americans have been taught, is the way this whole thing works. We are whoever we have to be to get a job. If you can’t get a job with natural hair, you perm it. If you can’t get a job with braids, you cut them off. If you can’t get a job with a beard, you shave it. There’s this consensus that sounding black makes you undesirable to employers so many of us Black People have that all important “white voice” we pull out of the stash for employment purposes. You know the voice. The one where you’re not as much trying to sound white as you are not trying to sound black. The Al Rocker voice where you suppress the base in your voice and speak through your nasal passages is by far the most famous of them all.

A recording artist that signs a recording contract with a record company is employed by that company to record music. It’s a job. All our lives we’ve been cultivated to compromise ourselves when it comes to employment. We change the way we look, the way we act, the way we talk and it is acceptable when it gets us a job, but when a commercial rapper changes the way he looks, the way he acts, and the way he raps for his job he’s a sellout. Maybe that’s because we don’t view recording Artists as employees and if that’s the case, maybe we should. When an employee doesn’t do what he was hired to do he gets fired. If you’re a signed recording artist your employer is in the business of selling records. You were hired to make records the record company can sell. If you don’t make records it can sell, you get fired.

People don’t like to look at artists as people. They don’t like to think about them having a mortgage, they don’t like to think about them having kids to care for and put through school, and they don’t want to think about them having bills. Consequently, they don’t want to think about what will happen if they’re unable to pay those bills. The fact of the matter is that, yes, many recording artists are sellouts, but so are we. And it’s the lack of empathy that allows the hypocrisy of us thinking otherwise.

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