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We're All Just a Bunch of Drug Dealers, at Heart

September 26, 2009

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z – “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”

“I know what you like, I am your prescription, I’m your physician, I’m your addiction.  (I know what you like)”  – Jay-Z – “I Know”


As an often passive listener of hip-hop, I always thought that these were run-of-the-mill lines from an egotistical (but undeniably talented) rapper.  It wasn’t until I began to think about Jay-Z and his ways of doing business, however, that I began to realize the genius behind his words.

Every single person trying to make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry has to be aware of the fact that they are more or less a product. The sum total of your personality, artistry, everything that goes into what makes you who you are in the public eye is being consumed, discussed and spread amongst the masses.

When Jay-Z’s album comes out, everyone knows that it’s going to sell, even when it’s an album as comparatively subpar to BluePrint #3.  Now why is it able to do this?  It’s because Jay-Z has become a master at his craft–not rap, but business.

Jay-Z has become such a staple in the hip-hop industry that even if his album is subject to bad or mediocre reviews, it’s almost as though people feel as though they have to hear his album in order legitimate themselves as fans of popular music.  “Oh, you ain’t hear that new Jay?”  It’s as if Jay-Z has become Hip-Hop. You haven’t heard Hip-Hop if you haven’t heard BluePrint #3.  It’s nuts.  Just check the 2nd week sales for BP3.

This extends to every corner of the industry where people are cornering their market the way that they should be.  Think about it–people whose music you buy, whose movies you see.   A movie starring Will Smith or Denzel.  Movies directed by Spike, Tarantino or Scorsese.  Television shows produced by Dave Chappelle, Larry David.  If Chappelle came out with another show right now, everyone would watch.

For each of their various respective industries, these people have become popularly known and praised for consistently providing a “quality” (whatever this means) product for their target audience.  Supply.

More importantly, with the frenzied word-of-mouth that surrounds the release of each new work, entertainers are able to fuel a public desire to see what they have coming next.  Demand.

Entertainers pimp out their various brands to all of us and turning us into addicts.  And it’s awesome.

If only more kids growing up in low-income Brooklyn public housing knew this.

How the Great Dealers Get Started.

Having become a self-proclaimed expert on how to rise to the top as a drug dealer after having seen so many hood movies over the years, I’ve noticed that the way the archetypal, ambitious, would-be entrepreneur (e.g. Frank Lucas, Nino Brown, Tony “Scarface” Montana) breaks into the game is by finding an opening in a local market where he can provide a product that is superior and/or different to what’s being provided by everyone else and usually in a new, efficient way.  The streets get a taste and buzz is created.  Addicts tell other addicts where to get the new bomb shit on the regular and before you know it, this new flavor has a foothold in a competitive industry.

Tyler Perry – The Film World’s Frank Lucas

6668 Dude is a genius.

If a Tyler Perry movie is out, Black Folk will flock to it, like crackheads to a flame.

And why not?  T.P. has created his own lane, his own category–comedic, family-oriented movies that appeal to Black folk en masse.  A formula which works time and time again–his own brand. The components–an ensemble cast of Black actors, many of whom you’ve not seen in years + A non-threatening sagely humorous transvestite + a usually light-hearted story + religious/redemptive/moral overtones all wrapped up in his characteristic Southern flair.  Time and time again.

Then, once they’re released, similar to the way that everyone discusses the release of a Jay-Z album, everyone is discussing what they think of Tyler Perry’s newest movie, for better or for worse.  And again, you’ll find people saying, “oh, I hated it, but you’ve got to see it.”

Not only this, but because (and I think it’s fair to say) that it’s perceived that there is so little competition as far as other directors trying to supply work aimed at T.P.’s key demographic (Black Folk — 24-35?  36-49?) people begin to believe that Tyler Perry is the only one putting out anything.

But how could you not?  This dude’s advertising campaigns are monstrous.


Just wait for this monstrosity.

Tyler Perry has become The Black Movie.

It’s genius.  But there’s no reason that others can’t do the same.


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