True story: When I was about 17 years old, my old man got canned like tuna from the job where he had been working for literally all of my life at that point. He packed up all of the shit from his office and moved it into this extra bedroom in our house, where he’d “work” during the day.
I always thought it was weird that he’d wake up mad early just to go sit in this room, especially since there was no evidence that he was doing anything other than sitting there playing with his computer all day.
Since he was one of those well-paid executive types, his dismissal actually came with two years severance pay. So if he wanted to, he probably could have slept until noon every day, then started drinking at five o’clock anyway – just like his son does today. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is about the best thing a man can do with his life. Get some bitches in here, and I’d be set!
I used to joke that he’d become so institutionalized by 17 years in the corporate world that he couldn’t find anything better to do if he wanted to; and that now that he didn’t have any real boss to report to, our dog had become his boss. I actually started referring to the dog as The Boss, which I don’t think he took very well.
A few months later, he had the dog put down.
Granted the dog was about 12 years old at that point, and his best years were clearly behind him. But I always wondered if the real reason my old man decided to have him put down at that point was because he got tired of me referring to him as The Boss.
I’m always reminded of this when I see Elliott Wilson, who used to be the boss here at XXL, out trolling for friends on Facebook, and writing about female rap music on people’s random-ass blogs – ostensibly in order to promote his new series on VH1, ego trip’s Miss Rap Supreme.
I’m not saying the man has gone crazy in his forced retirement. I’m just saying. Hopefully, him and that wife of his don’t have any pets.
I’ve been meaning to do a post here in which I address some of the points he’s been raising in the interviews that he’s been doing – nothing contentious about his situation here or anything like that, but just some interesting points he’s raised about hip-hop and the media and what have you. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Fortunately, there’s a new one of them every time you turn around. The latest one is over at HipHopDX and is called, you guessed it, The Boss. I’d say it’s about representative of the rest of the interviews he’s done in the past several weeks, if not quite as in depth as the one he did with a site called Hip-Hop Game. But they touch on pretty much all of the major points I’d like to discuss here.
So I guess it’ll do. Let’s have a look and see what we can’t glean from it.
First of all, there’s the matter of his being relieved from his duties here at XXL – which is always one of the first points raised in these interviews, and which he always avoids discussing in very much depth, other than to say that a business decision was made, and he was gonna have to move on with his life at some point or another, and that’s all he’s willing to say about it.
I don’t wanna dig too deep myself, either, lest management decides to flex its kill option on this post. But I will say that it’s always disappointing to watch him avoid going in on his former employer like that, after they dropped his ass like a bad habit. This is, after all, the guy who built his career (which he enjoys referring to as his personal brand) talking shit about his former employers at The Source.
And I’m wondering if there isn’t more to it than him just trying to be diplomatic. Or him worrying about trying to find another job in the corporate world. (At least he’s lightskinted!) Word on the street is that he might still have some sort of financial stake in XXL. Which would explain, to a certain degree, his reticence to throw the company under a bus. If that’s true, he might wanna put that out there, for the sake of his personal brand.
But I’m not sure if I’d even want to maintain any interest in the hip-hop magazine game, if what he has to say about the business end of this shit is true. According to Elliott, the business end of this shit is fucked the fuck up, and the reason is not so much because these magazines are hard up for readers, but because companies don’t want to pay any money to advertise in them.
Which does seem to coincide with what I’ve read about the magazine business in the past few weeks now, with a lot of these smaller music magazines – like Mass Appeal, which I wrote about here the other day – going out of business. Supposedly, in a lot of these cases, circulation is about as strong as it ever was, even with there being so much information for free on the Internets. The advertising money just isn’t there.
One solution Elliott offers in the HipHopDX interview is that we need a lot more young brothers focused on the business end of the hip-hop magazine game, rather than so many people trying to become writers – more Steve Stoutes and less Elliott Wilsons. Which I of course found ironic, since my college degree is in marketing, and I somehow ended up as a writer instead. Maybe this shit’s all my fault.
That being said, it’s not like I turned down a lucrative career in marketing to talk shit about rappers over the Internets. This was just the only career option I had available to me. Indeed, one of the glories of the Internets, other than the copious amount of free pr0n available, is that it allows you to get your foot in the door without the white man’s cosign.
Speaking of which, people usually ask Elliott about hip-hop blogging, since he stays putting up guest posts up on people’s sites, and since he had the foresight to bring brothers such as myself and… well, myself into “professional” hip-hop blogging here at XXL.
He doesn’t get too deep into the matter in the interview at HipHopDX, but he does mention that he appreciates the independent spirit he finds in hip-hop blogging, and the fact that it’s allowing young brothers to come up in the world, like Eskay from Nah Right, who I’m sure he feels a certain degree of kinship with, given that they both used to work here.
I joke, but it’s not like I’m not gonna eventually have to join the two of them. The truth of the matter is that, with the Internets and the economy and what have you, this business is in a constant degree of flux. If Elliott’s situation this year has shown us one thing, it’s that even guys who’ve reached that upper echelon in this game are hardly immune. Hopefully, if only for the sake of any pets he might have, he comes back strong.