2001-03-17 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! By the time this issue hits the stands Sean "Puffy" Combs will be charged or acquitted in his weapons possession case. He is an example of yet another young Black music star caught in the media firestorm because of bad judgment and stupid behavior. This will continue to be an ongoing, if not embarrassing, situation simply because too many of these stars lack consciousness, culture and respect.

Those who have found themselves in trouble with the law recently include DMX, Old Dirty Bastard, Lil’ Kim, Jay-Z and most notably Puffy. Many of them have some pretty serious personal issues, and that could explain a lot when you look at the circumstances they become involved in. However, I strongly believe that if a level of consciousness had been developed, from a very early age, many of these stars would not end up in a courtroom waiting for a judgment to be rendered.

So many in the hip-hop world lack an understanding of Black culture, in terms of who we are and where we have come from. The past is the past for many of them, and when they are reminded of the struggles, they regard those days as an ugly period that we are far beyond. They believe this to be the case because they have achieved a certain level of success, and the bottom line for them is that they are "getting’ paid", and some of these people are at the very top of the hip-hop music chain.

A few years ago, my business partner and I met with Def Jam Records mogul Russell Simmons. We requested the meeting after hearing about a marketing campaign that he was about to launch. He was on the verge of introducing a new men’s cologne, on a worldwide scale, and the fragrance was going to be called, you’re not going to believe this, "Nigga". We were able to convince him that using this as the name would be poison to the African-American community, and he agreed. We were able to halt the campaign dead in its tracks. This is to show you that even with all the money and power that these people have, they can, and often do, lack a sense of culture and consciousness, and this is why so many of them fall from grace.

The big paycheck that many of them get also plays a part in the negative aspect of the hip-hop culture. The acquisition of homes, cars, women and awards tend to make some of them think that that can do anything, or get away with anything, because of the powerful label, and people, that are behind them. They develop huge egos, and when you couple this with the thug lifestyle, you are creating an appetite for destruction.

Unfortunately, it’s all about who’s getting’ paid, topping the charts and living the largest. It’s also about gaining respect, and if someone feels that they are not being given respect in the industry, they must retaliate or face ridicule from their peers and the fans. So, they end up taking shots at one another, literally, until the public is left to weep over slain artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. It almost happened to Lil’ Kim a few weeks ago. Wake up people!

The hip-hop industry is on the verge of self-destruction, and the only way to curtail this is to for the artists, producers, managers and label executives to broaden their consciousness about our culture and achievements. Simply put, stop selling out our people and our legacy!

The fans can stand in front of the court and cheer for Puffy all they want. The bottom line is he’s a Black man in a position of tremendous power, and his thug behavior, past and present, threatens to destroy any good he has accomplished. The other major stars in hip-hop must realize this before they engage in detrimental acts. Otherwise, they will be seen as nothing more than a criminal, or a statistic, and that would be the real tragedy.

I want to wish my first cousin, Al Skinner, the best of luck in the NCAA Tournament. He’s the head coach for Boston College! They recently won the championship in their division, and they are now part of the final sixty-four. They are the number three seed in the East, and I think they can take Duke. We’ll see what happens.

See you next week!

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