Panhandling is the new record deal

A sign of the times: I was gonna do a trend piece on broke rappers begging for money, but then it occurred to me that I’d already done one.

The main reason I remembered is because it was one of those stories that took on a life of its own after I’d published it (as opposed to, say, one of those stories that disappeared into the ether after I’d published it). I’d caught Jean Grae on Twitter soliciting donations to help keep her in rotgut, so of course I had to write about it. One of the three teh ghey guys who listens to her music found out, forwarded it to her, and she responded by threatening to put a shoe on me. Which put me in the odd position of having to point out that, while a short guy might be able to beat me up, if he got a running start. I believe that it’s only right that if a woman tries to beat you up, you should be allowed to subdue them and cup their boobs until they calm down. No, really. Think about how many domestic violence incidents could be prevented, if that were an actual law.

Oddly enough, the subtitle of this post comes from the late, great Noz, who recently had to take up a collection in order to continue the important work he does pretending to like LCD rap, for his own personal amusement. His computer had gotten to the point where he couldn’t rip Gucci Mane songs and upload them to the Internets without it crashing, and he couldn’t afford the $600 or whatever it costs for a new one. Which was surprising to me, because back when he left XXL, it was portrayed to me as a matter of pride: he could write things people actually wanted to read, if he wanted to, but he found that kind of work beneath him. I figured he must have been ballin’, from his side hustle of selling obscure (for a reason) rap records to chinamen, and probably also some shit he stole from his parents’ house, on eBay, but come to find out he’s broker than I am. By like $200. Which begs the question of why he would leave XXL (back when it was an actual job). Could it be that he couldn’t come up with anything to write, perhaps because he doesn’t really believe half the shit he says? I wanted to go in, but I couldn’t help but feel bad about criticizing a man in that position, especially a fellow blogger. People didn’t spare my feelings, back when I was living on nothing but bologna on white bread and ramen noodles, for months at a time, and skimming alcohol from the bottles at my parents’ house, back before I started blogging here at XXL, but sometimes it’s important to be the bigger man.

At least Noz is out here trying to cop something he could use to make some money of his own. You know the old saying about how, if you teach a man how to fish, he’s that much less likely to come to you asking for money, or however it goes. I’m pretty sure Vordul Mega from Cannibal Ox is just trying to get some money to buy some crack. I read on Twitter the other day that he’s been out asking for money, on 125th Street in Harlem, apparently for a while now. So of course I had to spread the word. Maybe some hipster douche with a Flip Cam will find him, make a generous donation, then film him smoking it up and upload it to YouTube. That could even be a project for the video department here at XXL, once this new Freshman 10 issue winds down. Or maybe someone’s who’s not addicted to schadenfreude will even try to get the guy some help. I’d suggest he try to perform “Iron Galaxy” at El-P’s birthday party, similar to how G-Dep came up on his last big score, but Def Jux just went out of business, and I’m assuming that’s not because El-P felt he was in a position to take an early retirement.

The actual impetus for today’s post was the fact that Ras Kass somehow got it into his head that it was a good idea to fund his new album using a system of microloans, not unlike what they use to buy livestock in Indonesia (and now YOU eat the turkey…), just as Public Enemy’s own attempt to put out an album that way is ending in a huge, embarrassing failure. There’s a big story about it today in Billboard. And one of you haters emailed me about the Ras Kass album. Subject: “RasKass FAIL!” But the Ras Kass album might actually succeed where the Public Enemy album failed, if only via low expectations. Public Enemy, for whatever reason, was trying to raise $250,000 to record its album. Let me guess: $50,000 was for the actual cost of production, and $200,000 was for Flavor Flav’s back child support. The fundraiser stalled at about $70,000, then some people got a refund, leaving them with about $67,000. Which should be more than enough to put out an album, right? A news item at HipHopDX says Ras Kass is more or less done recording his album. Presumably, the fund raiser is for the costs of printing it up on CD and Vinyl. As if.

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  • gerald n. the birdman

    Bol is cold. ouch!

  • $yk!

    If it’s the right artist it could work. They should try Em, or Styles P, or Tech N9ne.

  • damn

    that shit about dude from cannibal ox had me laughing out loud (LOLing)

  • sealsaa

    Sean Price’s baby shower comes to mind.

    • JihaD

      Ehh, that’s far more ingenious. You would spend money for the show, why not buy something for his baby? It just eliminates P! having to do any actual work, like trolling Baby’s R Us for diapers and whatnot.


  • djhiptronic

    I like the article. Too many spelling and grammar issues though.

  • capcobra

    i’d rather give ‘em some hush money…this way they can feed thier family without recording or releasing an album..and my first donation would probably go to the so icey crew.

  • sealsaa


    Never said that it was a bad idea, and no shots at P, but LOL, that’s some niggerish shit there. Wish I could be there though.

  • $yk!

    @ seal

    Ghetto, but honest & realistic…

  • nicholasdelorejo

    Man shit like this is sad. Just today I passed 4 homeless people (or struggling crackheads) who all had their hands out for money. Seeing those folks were just reminders as to do whatever I can to avoid becomming as fucked up as them. Hearing about how Rass Kass (who is considered a respected lyricist) is begging for donations in order to release an album that the donators may also have to purchase the album when it comes out makes me realize that there is now real future for rappers in the music industry. At least in terms of the stereotypical success that rappers dream of achieving.

    If anytime you hear a dude say that he’s an aspiring rapper, slap the shit out of him and give him a dollar towards buying instrument or a drum machine because nobody buys rap albums for the lyrics anymore. The real money now in rap is the production. That’s why the last hip-hop forbes list had either producers, pop rappers/singers, and rappers that made their money off of investments from oil, clothing lines and Vitamin water. Cool & Dre are probably living in mansions better than those featured in any of Ross’ videos and didn’t have to lie about being rich from cocaine.

    • DV8

      the real money has always been in production

      • nicholasdelorejo

        Yeah except now its pretty much the only money. And now its more evident that there’s no longevity in being a lyricist or even a shitty rapper with good beats (Young Joc). I think Bol was comparing Noz’s career in order to illustrate that being a lyricist as so many rappers pride themselves in is a dead career. Sadly I can see how Wacka Flocka can laugh his retarded ass off at how folks pride themselves over lyricism when bullshit music like his can sell at the moment. Flocka is as much of a fool because the producers that make successful bullshit rap probably make more money than he’ll ever see. Too many folks get into rap trying to be stars on the billboad chart or lyrical deities in the underground instead of creating a long term career.

  • bk

    I like how Noz and Bol have footsteps on each other’s hearts. N’boozl

  • Avenger XL

    What Vordul mega smokes crack? Ras Kass can’t help but be an epic fail. He keeps doing these questionable songs that sound like blatant radio grabs that just don’t work for him as of yet. He suffers from rapping ass rapper syndrome. Jean Grae suffers from the indie version of rapping ass rapper syndrome and she is a chick which for some reason is still appearing as a handy cap in hip-hop.

    Noz hold ya head son and chuck D c’mon son! You know it doesn’t take no 250,000 dollars to do an album these days. The best thing PE could do is do a street album with hank shocklee and bomb squad creating their infamous wall of sound. So that won’t have worry about sample clearance.

  • sealsaa

    ^^^ Jean Grae’s problem is that there hasn’t been a market for female rappers since the early to mid 90′s, if at all. Its a man’s industry, and the only successful female mc’s have been the ones who cater to that audience via sex appeal(with a few notable exceptions), and even then, the success comes admist speculation that their rhymes are ghost written by their male benefactors(Kim-Big, Fox-Jay, Minaj-Wayne).

  • chillin mayne

    nicholas u are spot on homie…ayo watever happen to don mccaine…he need to get a guest blog here keep us on that up to date real talk

  • Otto the Rugged Man

    LOL @ Mega begging pandhandling for crack. The rap is messed up, man. Times have changed. Back in the 80′s people rapped as an anti-drug, during the 90′s people rapped so they no longer had to sell drugs, and now people rap so they can have money for drugs. These rappers should just tour, like Tech N9ne and Atmosphere, because that’s where the money is really at. However, most rappers can’t move the crowd as their sets lack and they sound bad live, and half the time they don’t even show up for the gosh damn show (I still ain’t forgive Scarface for pulling that BS). Sad, seeing some our favorites going broke too.

    Maybe illegal downloading is actually the problem? Back in the 90′s and early 00′s, a homey would recc or play a dope album, I would go buy that ish ASAP. Now, I just download that ish for free or burn it from the homey.

    I don’t really know, maybe hip-hop’s dead? And all this was just a fad…

    But to all you lyricist and dope spitters, keep doin’ what you do and keep this ish alive. It’s for the culture, not for the dollar. You get more cool points from me if you work a 9 to 5 and spit something nice at s party than some Clown “rapping” over a techno/pop beat about how ballin’ they are and how much dome they get.

    Just my two cents… Good blog.

  • Corse1

    Sadly, it’s true about Vodul Mega… I party sometimes, so every once in a while I go to 132 st. pj’s to get some stuff and I’ve seen him twice, gave him a little money the first time, second time I broke him off half of one of my dime bags of hard. He was mad thankful, but that sucks that someone with his talent let the party take over his life! Truly sad!!