Reading yesterday’s news item re: Twista being dropped from this McDonald’s Live Tour I couldn’t help but wonder which was worse: the fact that Twista was out on a tour of McDonald’s restaurants in the first place, or the fact that it’s getting to the point where no rapper will be able to go out on one of these corporate-sponsored tours without getting Bill O’Reilly-ed.
I mean, obviously these rappers are going to have to find a way to get paid one way or the other short of, you know, learning a useful skill, since hardly anyone is buying records these days, let alone hip-hop records. The thing is, Twista wasn’t even getting paid to go on this tour. According to the news item, the only compensation he received was the free promotion from the media coverage of these shows.
Wow, I hope they at least gave him a free Big & Tasty on each tour date. Not that the shit cost that much money (in St. Louis it’s only $1), but still. Obviously if he’s that hard up for money, he could probably use a few free hamburgers. Also, I’m not sure if everyone is clear on this, but this wasn’t an actual tour of clubs or theaters or anything, but rather a tour of McDonald’s restaurants, where he’d stand around in the dining room and rap while people at their double cheeseburgers.
I’d suggest that he go out on a tour where he actually charged people money to watch him, but I’m sure that already occurred to him a long time. As my colleague Jay Smooth is wont to point out, these rappers are far savvier business-wise than the media (i.e. myself?) would have you believe. The thing is, going out on a real, paying tour is just not a realistic option for many rappers these days, especially shitty rappers like Twista.
For example, I read in an interview the other day that Black Thought never got a royalty check a day in his life for the seven or eight Roots albums he’s recorded (I realize this is hard to believe…), but he stayed paid anyway, because the Roots stay out on tour. The difference, of course, is that the Roots play to a predominately white audience, which has both the taste and the means to keep some of our more… shall we say, artistically valid groups afloat even in such a harsh commercial climate.
Twista, meanwhile? Probably not so much. Personally, I’m obviously not very much into the guy’s music, and I’m sure many of you will hold that up as an example of my having cracka-ass crackas tendencies, but whatever. It’s not people like me Twista is counting on to buy tickets to his shows, it’s people like you. And the truth of the matter is that it’s just not in a black man’s nature to spend too much money (often well in advance of the actual tour date) to watch somebody rap.
Going out on these corporate-sponsored promotional tours like the one Akon was on or even this one Twista was on would seem like a viable option for the likes of… you know, Akon and Twista, except for the ridonkulous moral panic surrounding hip-hop as of late. Even if a company wanted to attach its brand image to some foul-mouthed rapper (like, say, a cell phone company that hawks foul-mouthed ringtones to the kind of people who are really into Akon) it’s just way too easy for the Al Sharptons and the Bill O’Reillys of the world (there’s a difference?) to throw a bitch fit and fuck everything up.
Ironically, this could be a situation that works out well for those of us close-minded, racist assholes who only dig on so-called real hip-hop anyway. To be sure, this weekend’s Rock the Bells festival had its share of corporate sponsors, but it also had its share of cracka-ass crackas who paid top dollar for tickets and spent way more money than they should have on beer and energy drinks and what have you. My guess is that the current crisis facing hip-hop won’t come down nearly as hard on groups that are genuinely worth a shit like the Roots, the Wu-Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine, and it’s hard not to view that as a victory of sorts.