I tried avoiding the video for “Angels” by Diddy’s new group Dirty Money, but I couldn’t. Every time I went to World Star, to see if they had any good new cam hoo-er clips, which I do every now and again, it would auto play. (I wonder how much Diddy paid them for that.) It’s a good thing I don’t have a job where I can’t accidentally listen to rap music. Come to think of it, I should probably be listening to rap music anyway.
Of course, every time the video for “Angels” would start to play, I’d scroll up to the top of the screen and shut it off, lest I had to listen to some shit produced by Diddy. But one time I was, um, distracted, and I ended up letting the shit ride, and, wouldn’t you know, Biggie Smalls started rapping. For a minute there, I thought it might be a new verse, or they found some way to reanimate Biggie’s corpse (you know Diddy’s got a team of scientists on the case), but then I realized it was just one of his vocals from Life After Death. It’s been such a long time since I listened to that album, I’m not even sure which one it was.
According to the banner ad right next to the video, not to mention the commercial tacked on to the end of it, “Angels” is essentially a ad for Ciroc vodka. Which got me to thinking: how in the fuck is Diddy gonna have Biggie doing vodka commercials, when he isn’t even alive? I mean, I’m sure Diddy didn’t break any laws in the creation of “Angels.” I know, because I saw it in that Junior Mafia DVD that once came on pay cable back in like 2006, that Diddy owns Biggie’s publishing. Biggie sold it to him for $200,000 during a moment of financial desperation in 1996. But still. It’s one thing to cheat the guy out of untold millions of dollars, but it’s another thing to have him shilling for products in perpetuity, as if he was on Tag Records.
Speaking of dead people who scored a big payday, one of the other big music stories this week is the release of those Beatles remasters (which I might have to block out some time this afternoon to DL) and the Beatles: Rock Band. One of the great untold stories of the Beatles, and music in general, is the fact that the guy who shot and killed John Lennon wasn’t just some nutjob trying to score with Jodie Foster, like the guy who shot (and failed to kill – doh!) Ronald Reagan. He was a serious fan of John Lennon’s music, who grew disillusioned when he realized that song “Imagine” was bullshit. Like Barack Obama, John Lennon wasn’t really a socialist – he was getting chauffeured around New York in a Rolls Royce and kicking it in clubs where regular people weren’t allowed to enter. Just like Diddy, actually.
The dead giveaway was the fact that, when the shit went down, he was clutching a copy of the Catcher in the Rye, a book about a guy who spent a weekend in New York calling out phonies. He obviously did this as a sign of the real reason he did what he did, regardless of how the media tried to spin it. When the case went to trial, they tried to force him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but he insisted on pleading guilty of second degree murder. He knew exactly what he did and why he did it. He ended up being sentenced to 20 years to life. He’s been eligible for parole for a while now, but Yoko Ono keeps lobbying to have him denied. She probably paid off a few judges. In the past 30 years, she’s made an absolute mint off John Lennon’s corpse, none of which she’s been willing to share with John Lennon’s white son, the one who had a song out back in the mid ’80s. (This was all detailed in one of the better episodes of VH1′s Behind the Music.)
I can only imagine how much Yoko is about to make from the Beatles: Rock Band. Each copy costs $150 – $250 for the special edition, which comes with a fancier-looking plastic guitar, and a drum kit that says Beatles on it. With the money she’s about to make, she can afford to be chauffeured around New York in a Maybach powered by an African baby’s tears. Mark David Chapman must be in the joint sweating like a blind lesbian in a fish market. It’s no wonder Yoko doesn’t want him to get out.
But at least it sounds like this Beatles game was tastefully done. There was a big story in the Times magazine the other day about all of the work that went into getting the Beatles: Rock Band just right. Yoko Ono herself and George Harrison’s widow were brought in to make sure John and George’s mannerisms were just right, since obviously it would have been difficult to bring them in for motion cap. And there’s only so much you’re allowed to do with the Beatles music. You can’t make the crowd boo at the Beatles, if you fuck a song up bad enough, and you can’t add any extra notes to George Harrison’s guitar solos, even if they could use it.
The new Guitar Hero, meanwhile, has Kurt Cobain looking like a damn fool. The other day, someone posted a video of how you can have doing Flavor Flav’s parts in Public Enemy songs, and – even worse – a song by motherfucking Bon Jovi. I was checking Twitter this morning, looking for irrelevant bullshit I could write about today, and I saw where she went off on the makers of Guitar Hero 5. She’s threatening to sue, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a leg to stand on, legally. She got Kurt Cobain’s publishing when he died, and, as I recall, she talked some judged into giving her carte blanche with Nirvana’s catalog, despite the other two guys, because Kurt wrote all but two of their songs. But then she smoked up all of her money and ended up selling it to a company that licenses music for use in commercials and what have you. The TIs could probably Kurt Cobain on TV talking about how, even though he’s got this hole in his head, he just saved a bunch of money by switching his car insurance to Geico – and there wouldn’t be a damn thing she could do about it.
In the years since John Lennon’s death, people who heed the message of the Catcher in the Rye have been portrayed in the media as batshit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a conscious effort by the TIs to lull people into accepting this level of commercialization in music. For example, there was that movie about a crazy guy who carries around a copy of the Catcher in the Rye, starring Mel Gibson, who might actually be the anti-christ. But what’s so crazy about calling out a phony, when you see one? I’m not saying Mark David Chapman should have popped a cap in John Lennon’s ass. I’m just saying. One day John Lennon lets some crazy Chinese woman convince him to sacrifice his values, and the next thing you know, the only people making money in the music business are digital avatars of dead people.