Letter from Lefsetz » Blog Archive » Liftoff


If this guy was white…

Most people have no idea what goes on behind the records. Despite the bragging, the flash of cash, the actual lives of these rappers are not depicted.

They are in danger.

In an underground economy.

This is rock and roll in the old days. A cash business, but much more dangerous.

Not that I knew that much until I read Joe Coscarelli’s book, “Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story”: https://amzn.to/3Ns7PMl and spoke with him for the podcast: https://bit.ly/3haAadK

First, we have a huge incarceration problem in America, which disproportionately targets black men. It’s amazing how many of these eventually famous rappers are in and out of jail. And if you think racism is old-fashioned, you should be on the Supreme Court. There are places in Georgia where rappers are on guard due to white police crackdowns on petty crimes.

As for paying…

Everything looks simple from the outside. There are royalties from the record company and concerts. But it is much more complicated than that. There are tons of cash gigs, the IRS misses not only rich CEOs, but also rappers, who are sometimes insanely rich as a result of this economy, where you show up at a club to rap and… you can do multiple gigs per night That’s another amazing thing in Coscarelli’s book, how rich some of these rappers are.

Not that a career is guaranteed. It is one thing to have a hit, and quite another to maintain.

And it’s not just the underground economy that’s involved, but also Fortune 500 companies. They know that rappers have the most credibility, no matter how popular, with their target audience, so they do business with them. It used to be that you had to have a string of hits before the corporations came calling, but now they’re in from the start.

And many of the acts are disposable. And end up back where they came from. Never mind the fact that many don’t make it.

And while rockers and old braggarts are still trying to figure out the internet, the hip-hop community has embraced it early on. The rappers knew that you had to give to receive, like a drug dealer. They knew it was about going for the big money, not the little. ergo mixtapes. These recordings endeared them to an audience that joined them. There was a lot of money on the way, if you had fans.

And Culture.

And, culture involves a lot of posturing and violence.

And the whites and the mainstream media may report it, but they don’t report it.

It’s taken for granted that rappers get shot. Why?

Well, we could go to the source and ask why black people don’t have more opportunities. Coscarelli writes about college graduates who end up doing manual labor. But affirmative action is taboo, because someone could gain an advantage that has become a majority group. I mean you have to attack the problem at some point.

And let’s be clear, it’s not what you learn at Harvard or Yale, it’s the people you meet who become part of your network. JD Vance was a redneck until he went to Yale Law School, made connections, went to work with Peter Thiel, and ended up writing a distorted book that he used as a platform to run for Senate in Ohio. Where is the attendant advantage for blacks?

Believe me, the upper middle class knows all the tricks. But even the middle class has no idea, that the best educational institutions are blind, and if you can get in and you’re broke, you don’t have to pay a dime.

The American information gap, right there.

So think of all the people who benefit from rap. The white-run labels, the television and broadcast companies, the aforementioned Fortune 500, but none of them lift a finger to counter violence in the culture, they don’t even bother to denounce it.

It is racism incarnate.

As for George Floyd… All the companies that came out to support black people… that was then and this is now, the bottom line is far from important, it’s business as usual.

So if a white rapper had been shot, there would be front-page stories about his family, their devastation. And there would be investigative articles in the media asking how this could happen. How this honorable citizen of good family was extinguished. Yes, they would sugarcoat the background of the deceased, have you ever read an obituary where they say the person was an arrogant punk?

And all the government leaders would get together and talk about taking action.

Meanwhile, where are the stories about Takeoff’s family? Where is the deep dive into your live past?


We can start with gun control… But that seems to go in the other direction. I would think twice about moving to Texas, where anyone can carry a gun without a permit. Talk to me about the supposed economic advantages all day, they don’t mean much when you’re dead.

The truth is white people and the majority community don’t care if another black person dies. Just one less mouth to feed. Yeah, that’s how they see it, that black people are takers, always wanting more, the government needs to stop supporting them.

While they’re at it, why don’t they take out all that money that the government disproportionately gives to red states, huh?

And an advanced society seeks out those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. In most Western countries. But welfare was stymied during the Clinton administration and the idea that black women are just having babies and receiving government support is not true. You think that someone must be taking your money, that you should pay less taxes, but when there is a natural disaster, you immediately want federal help.

Yes, there must be a scapegoat. And blacks are number one.

Even though their schools are poor. The right says there should be school choice, close the bad schools, there just isn’t enough room in the good schools for all the underprivileged to go! And in truth, this is just a ruse to advance the cause of religious schools, which are not free, and if you are not a believer…

And we won’t equate all rappers with Kanye. They’re not that rich, and they’re not that crazy. They are just trying to survive.

So, we have to get the guns off the street. Enough of throwing your hands in the air. When his son gets shot, he’ll go crazy, how about someone else’s son?

And how about a denigration of violence. Why are gangs and violence portrayed as cool? Many kids join gangs not because they’re cool, but just to survive. And since the police are ineffective, the gangs and others take the law into their own hands. And since the opportunities are low, the children deal drugs, for that quick money, I mean, how long are they going to live anyway?

This is what surprised me in “Hoop Dreams”. They threw a big birthday party for the player because living to eighteen is a huge achievement. Do we feel the same as white people? That simply staying alive is something to celebrate?

And often they find the perpetrators of this violence and lock them up, but it’s not a big deterrent, because they feel like they don’t have much of a future to begin with. And honor and image is everything, as if we were living in the feudal past.

All these talent agencies and clothing manufacturers may leave Kanye looking hot, but how about leaving those involved in the violence? Trust me, if you eliminate the few avenues of opportunity, you will change the culture.

As for clubbing and strippers and making it rain…

Everyone gets to choose how they want to live their lives, but we shower these great athletes with cash that they have no education on how to spend, and then they screw it up and they end up broke and ultimately dead with CTE. But players are disposable, like rappers. Hell, most NFL players don’t even have guaranteed contracts! Get hurt and you’re out. We don’t care about you. Life is hard. Meanwhile, the bad actor billionaire owner continues to rape and loot not only in business, but also in his personal life.

This is one way you can prove your status, earning money and spending it.

Now, actually, on TikTok, there are all these videos that talk about money, about the economics of buying a new car, investing. Maybe the up-and-comers will see them, but we don’t even teach economics skills in school, because if we did, salespeople wouldn’t be able to cheat these customers. Dollar stores, payday loans… They’re heinous, but if you’re broke sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Somehow, the United States has turned around and it is the whites who are at a disadvantage. What’s a poor boy to do? Don’t play in a rock and roll band BUT BECOME A RAPPER! It is one of the few potentially well-paying jobs for a disadvantaged youth, aside from drug dealing.

But we demonize these people, as we benefit from their backs.

Come on, black people punch way above their weight when it comes to culture. And unfortunately, this culture of gun violence affects not only them, but also white people, BECAUSE IT LOOKS GREAT!

Let me tell you, when you’re dead, nothing is great. Finite. It’s over. The challenge is to stay alive. Hell, the government should give a million dollars to every rapper who makes it to forty. Even better, a guaranteed income for everyone, including blacks.

But nobody wants to PAY FOR IT! I don’t understand, do you want to live in Venezuela? I’ve been there, rich people live in the hills in houses surrounded by concrete walls topped with concertina wire.

You think you’re immune, but you’re not. We live in a great society. And you’re part of that, and you’re vulnerable. If you don’t take care of your brothers and sisters, pick them up, it’s going to negatively impact you.

But then you have all these executives who say they made their billions and don’t recognize that without customers they would have NOTHING!

Consumers are king. But that’s not the way our society sees it. We worship the rich and criticize the poor, ignoring what is going on in their brains.

And when it comes to hip-hop, it’s all about creativity. You don’t get to the top by accident. So why can’t we recognize this except at award shows that no one watches anyway?

Granted, everything fades almost instantly these days. But in the wake of Takeoff’s death, I haven’t seen any elected officials comment on it. I have not seen any protest. At best, there has been a shrug.

And that’s not right.

Someone has to concede. And if you don’t address the underlying problem, it will affect you.

Come on, isn’t anybody upset that this guy got shot?

I suppose not.


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