The slash syndrome

This Sunday during the Super Bowl, K-Fed is set to hit the small screen in a Nationwide Insurance commercial that pokes fun at his run of bad luck (i.e. releasing a rap album that bombed, getting dropped like a hot potato by his scandalous superstar wife, and generally being the butt of water cooler jokes across North America). What’s interesting to me about the Fed-Ex spot is the failed rapper has already begun his crossover campaign. He’s not even going to try to get respect in hip-hop—he’s just going to move on to the next form of media, and see if he can get a little more love/fame/money there.

This move points to a dynamic that’s becoming more and more prevalent in hip-hop. Everybody wants to be a rapper. Except rappers. (Even failed ones!) They want to be rappers-slash-actors-slash-entrepreneurs-slash-whatever else.

This won’t be news to anyone, but just as the advertising industry has stopped pushing concrete products in favor of selling lifestyle-based brands, the music industry is no longer in the business of promoting music. Recording artists have ceased to be considered musicians. Instead, they are all purpose media stars who dabble in music, modeling, acting, fashion and entrepreneurialism. Obviously, this is a recipe for some seriously crappy music. cultural critic Cintra Wilson explores this development in her hilarious, scathing anti-celebrity tome A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Reexamined as a Grotesque and Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations. The book coins a new term for the crossover impulse: Brunitis (after Bruce Willis’s awful blues band, Bruno). Wilson claims that this is a perverse affliction that causes celebs to develop insanely big egos and that it “compels [the] star to disgrace itself with an unbecoming art medium.”

I think it’s safe to say that Brunitis has hit hip-hop with a vengeance, if even rappers who are desperately on the come up don’t want to be just rappers anymore.

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • http://dsf fa

    You don’t say.

  • jacquez
  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    i think the problem is that the real emcees and musicians get overlooked by the guy who would be willing to do anything for some fame…there is no integrity in the biz anymore…real music and art no longer gets the respect it deserves…thats why i stop buying cds…cuz i refuse to buy this crap they call albums…i rather listen to my old ish along with some old school R&B…those with the buying power have the last word so stop supporting these half ass non creative quasi-mcs

  • EReal

    Fed-Ex is stupid man, if he woulda fell back and got his girl on the grind he coulda just sat back and counted paper and shit. Instead he goes to make a shitty ass album and loses errything. This dude is at about 13 minutes and countin.
    As far a celebrities, I hate them. I hate people that are obsessed with them and read magazines and wanna know they personal lives n shit. Its sick and distrubing.
    People have such a tough time differentiating between entertainment and real life it’s crazy. (I.E. people on here goin GGGGG-UNOT and FUCK THE GAYME, ect.) I mean damn, these people dont give a fuck about you, they dont care if the music or product or movie they sell you is bad or absolute shit, they care about the dollars.
    Everyone wants to put all 10 fingers and toes and every dirty little thing they can to absorb as much cash as possible.
    Everything in the industry feels fake, and commercialized, because it is. Its gonna be that way until the T.I.’s decide they’re done raping and pillaging our subculture and then they’ll leave it for dead, just like they did with techno and grunge in the 90′s and disco in the 80′s.
    Thats why I’m so irritated by the Dj Drama arrest. Im sure most will agree that the Dj Drama mixtapes are better than the acutal albums they want us to spend 10+ on, because the artists have the control, what they wanna do, how they want the tape to be. Not the T.I.’s and the A&R’s n shit.
    As far as people who suck at other shit like acting and whatnot, if they suck it cant last all that long. Just ask K-Fed, or ask Nas about ESCO, lol.

    1 hunned.

  • da’realestwritin’


  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    hip hop use to be a pure virgin…she didnt mess with any tom dick or harry…you had to be dedicated and committed to get love from her…now she just a 2 dollar hooker that would sleep with anyone to make a buck…hip hop is a tramp right now…

  • alleyeCNtower

    ^^^ I like what you said, homie :)
    but, I hate the fact of how real it is, too :(

    hip hop needs to become a secret society again. we need to force people out of our culture if they ain’t paid their dues and don’t earn/learn how to respect the art.

    in 2007, let’s get gangsta with these wankstas :)

  • Were Read 2 Def

    >those with the buying power have the last word so stop supporting these half ass non creative quasi-mcs.

    ^^^You’re the one who down south trash, & you know that. Blow the welcome off your door mat.


    Co-sign N CRED

    I think artists think they’re more talented then they really are because there “man’s and dem” keep hyping them up. Its funny that a lot of “gangstas” want to be actors growing up I always thought actors were all fags.

  • whatev

    This post is rather asinine. How easy it is to be a rap fan and bitch about the sellouts. You know what, if people didn’t think they could get paid off rapping most emcees wouldn’t bother with it. It is a way to get out of poverty, because there isn’t any nobility in it. The music industry is inherently exploitive, and rappers don’t sustain careers. Do you think Nas will be pulling in Rolling Stone numbers when he is a senior citizen? Shit, does he even do that now? A lot of that is because the majority of people who buy hip hop albums aren’t even true hip hoppers so they just want what’s cool and what’s now. That’s all well and good, but when you combine the promise of a short career with what is truly sharecropping you better have a back up plan.

    So what’s really wrong? Are these people who are trying to eat, trying to live ruining your music, ruining your culture? I guess you’d rather see some real emcees put out quality music that won’t get bought so they can die a popper and you can wax poetic about how they were true artist while never having to see their struggle. Critical acclaim doesn’t pay your bills nor does it insure your kids will have a better life. But that doesn’t matter, you have a pedestal to stand on, and by god don’t let reality get in your way.

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    If you are making good music the money will come you wouldnt have to worry about a marketing budget…good product sells its self…do you think tupac was think of how much money he could make when he made Me Against the World…work ethic and commitment…will pay off…the problem is that these quasi-artist get supported which keeps the assasination of hip hop going…hip hop went on the decline when all these “Gangstas” hit the scene…not knocking it…we need that in hip hop…but when it becomes a cookie cutter for every new act coming out…it waters down the music and that is what happened to hip hop its watered down…its cut with trash…not pure…we need that raw uncut hip hop…untouched by corporate america…let us control this because hip hop has been hijacked…

  • Atl’s own


    only stupid people would put all there eggs in one basket!

    there is no retirement plan for artist.

    last time i checked kids don’t eat Grammy’s or other critical acclaims.

  • skip

    ^^^^ co-sign atl’s own & whatev

    That’s y I’m baffled when ppl hate Jay-z for getting that money. Plus all that shit started way back with MC Hammer.

  • Incilin

    IF Nas is right, and Hip Hop is dead, Brunitis are the ones who killed it. If he’s wrong then Brunitis will surely kill it soon.

  • derfla the hus’la

    fame is a drug worse than coke (c) jay-z

  • Meka Soul

    looks like someone was watching kordell “crybaby” stewart on “pros vs. joes” last night.

  • J.R.O.

    Rappers today = Garbage
    Rap today = Garbage

  • john cochran

    N-cred I totally agree. I think it’s cool to get money in other venues, but too many rappers let that get in the way of the music. I dont wanna see you promoting an album, bottles of water, and fitteds at the same time. Be an emcee first. Like, I was Rakim on a henny ad a couple years ago and I didnt hate cause he was an emcee first.

  • john cochran

    whatev Says:

    February 2nd, 2007 at 11:52 am
    This post is rather asinine. How easy it is to be a rap fan and bitch about the sellouts. You know what, if people didn’t think they could get paid off rapping most emcees wouldn’t bother with it
    Thats not true cause It’s underground rappers that constantly bring heat and dont eat all like that. Shit, I know I spit and make beats and I wanna get on dont get me wrong, but if I didn’t I’d always do it cause I love it.

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    hip hop is just like with any other movement started by us blacks…”they” stick a wrench in it to avoid us having the POSITIVE impact not only on america but the world…they infiltrate it and corrupt it with there agents…in hip hop’s case the agents are these dumb naive do-anything-for-fame sell outs doing their dirty work of tainting what once was pure…

    smell me

  • SilverBack Gorilla

    ^^^^^^^^^ gotta co-sign whatev.

    I spit a little sumpthin’ myself, but I rather be a international businessman than a rapper right now. I ain’t even focusin’ on my music, I’m doin’ Real Estate and Accounting.

    whatev said..”Critical acclaim doesn’t pay your bills nor does it insure your kids will have a better life.”

  • http://myspace/notorious notoriousekb

    might be the realest shit you ever wrote

  • Belize

    Money is the root of all evil…and unfortunately that aint never changing ma

  • MoreFish

    hip hop decline is just like the decline of any other creative movement orginated in the grassroots; its all goes down hill when sh1t gets takenover by someone else.

    If you dont believe me look up info on Muddy Water and the original Chicago Blues movement…
    All the artist that came after the orginators of Chicago Blues stole most of material from artist like BB King, Fats Domino, Little Richards etc.etc.

    Where you think R&B, Rock, HipHop came from?
    Sh1t, most of Elvis’ material is stolen from Muddy Waters

    It like a cycle.

    Good read tho.


  • NickeNitro

    Wait! Celebrities have…egos…?!? NO! And the entertainment industry sells…crap?…??!?! Someone stop the presses!!!

    A wise man once said:

    “I’m the hooper, the hyper
    Protected by Viper
    When I rock the hoop yo, you’d better decipher
    In other words you’d better make a funky decision
    Cause I’m a be a Shaq knife, and cut you with precision
    Forget Tony Danza, I’m the boss
    When it comes to money, I’m like Dick Butkas
    Now who’s the first pick? Me, word is born and
    Not a Christean Laettner, not Alonzo Mourning
    That’s okay, not being bragadocious
    Supercalifragelistic Shaq-is-alidocious
    Peace, I gotta go, I ain’t no joke
    Now I slam it (what?) jam it (unh)
    And make sure it’s broke.”