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Will Rap For Food

Well well well, just in time for the holidays, we have some more hip-hop tom foolery to laugh at. This time it comes at the hands of some of the esteemed acts on Atlantic Records, who are teaming with the retail store The Gap, to release a series of urban-themed Christmas tracks called Merry Mixit. From,

Poe Boy/Atlantic recording artist Flo Rida, Songbook Entertainment/Atlantic recording artist Trey Songz, and Bad Boy/Wondaland Arts Society recording artist Janelle Monáe were specifically selected to bring their unique brand of hip-hop cool to the international specialty retailer’s upcoming “Merry Mix It” campaign, slated to debut online, in Gap stores, and in movie theatres nationwide on November 13th.

With hip-hop artists commanding top endorsement dollars and in high demand by savvy brand marketers worldwide, Gap reached out to Flo Rida and Trey Songz to write and produce a street-smart rendition of a Christmas classic for its annual holiday promotion. The resulting “Jingle Bells” is now airing in Gap stores nationwide, with in-store video displays in select stores, set to begin on November 13th.

Rappers will do anything for money these days. So will record labels. It’s that real. This is recession-era music business, real talk.

Honestly, I’m having trouble even coming up with the words to describe how I feel about this shit. On one hand, just because I’m a dude who’s bout getting mine, and I can respect the hustle, I say fuck it, do you. On the other, I’m like, are you serious? Hip-Hop Jingle Bells? Come on. This has to be a joke. This is almost bad as Chris Brown with the Double Mint commercial, except that the Chris Brown song, dare I say it, was actually kind of good.

Thing is, with the whole “do you” approach, I don’t know that I can really respect that anymore. See, as Byron Crawford pointed out the other day, 360 deals are now the norm, and I’d wager that all of the artists involved in this Gap campaign have 360 deals. So it’s not just the artists eating off the fact that they’re whoring themselves out to help The Gap market apparel to people in fly-over states who can barely keep from getting their home foreclosed on. It’s the labels, and the corporate giants they’re owned by as well. And that’s ain’t boss, that’s bitch. You ain’t a business man, you’re an employee. You”re the anti-Jigga. The opposite of everything the artists before you grinded for.

To each his own. I actually expect that sort of shit from Flo Rida and Trey Songz, because they’re urban artists, and most urban artists these days have zero artistic integrity and actually go into their careers not just looking to sell out, but to sell anything, period. Give them a check and they’re good.

But I was surprised when I read Janelle Monae was involved. She’s always seemed to be a little too classy, a little too artistic, a little too focused on creativity for creativity’s sake, than to take part in the salesmanship that artists have to do these days to make a dollar. And I respected that a lot. Caught her on 106 and Park a few weeks back, when she debuted one of her videos, and those little boys and girls– the ones who go ape shit over lil Bow Wow videos– were looking at her like she was an alien. Suffice it say, that was the first time that show seemed even remotely entertaining to me in years, if ever. I thought she was beyond having her career underwritten by corporations who need her brand of “cool” to help them sell shit. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Plus if you’re going to do Christmas rap, go the Jim Jones route and release a whole album. Even if it’s horrific, people will still remember you as the idiot who put out that crap Christmas album. And there’s something to be said for that in era where we can hardly remember guys who have hit singles on the radio (Ace Hood anyone?).

Or at least just do some cool shit. Then I could spare it. Merry Mixit? What Madison Avenue marketing guy thought of that?

When Busta passed the courvesoir, it was at least some shit we could drown or sorrows in, which we all need in these troubling times. And when the Wu sold us Wu Wear, they owned the damn brand and the stores they sold the shit in. It was a no brainer.

This one’s a no go. At least from me. What do you think?

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