Wizened scholars of the rap game have told us the true path to happiness is Money, Clothes and Hoes®. But what happens when we share the vision but not the resources?
If statistics are anything to go by (and they’re not); we are all in debt. Apparently, according to a report by the Centre for Social Justice think tank, in the UK, consumer debt stands at £158bn. That’s not 158bn as in 158 BN biscuits; that’s £158 billion pounds. That’s a lot of debt. That’s the kinda debt that makes you wanna sit down for a hot minute and eat a fucking BN biscuit; because times are fucking hard out here, and it’s got you craving biscuits.
So why are we in so much biscuity-sounding debt? Well maybe; and bear with me here because it may sound crazy, but maybe it’s because we buy too much shit? One thing that’s most discernible in todays society is consumerism. The lovely, warm, welcoming bosom of consumerism whispering, “Hey, spend some money, it’ll make you feel good! It’s retail ‘therapy’.”
Obviously, this belligerent attitude to materialism will have its casualties. Consumerism has created a dysmorphic society; where the bulbous heads of the rich shout encouragement for the tiny limbs of the poor to reach up join them, but they lack the power or comprehension to do it.
This dysmorphia is none the more prevalent than in hip hop. Since it’s growth from nerdy indie kid to oversexed media darling, it has slowly changed its focus from being all about the music to being all about the lifestyle. Now the only emcees that aren’t talking about how fucking great money is, are flowery dick heads trying to show off their thesaurus over a piano loop. Lifestyle bravado has permeated all of hip hop’s visual output. The effect on the average punter in real terms, is that hip hop culture has become like a 24/7 Christmas advert. Lyrics, videos and photoshoots now play out like a debauched version of a seasonal Tesco’s ad campaign but all year round. While Christmas ads indoctrinate the public to think they’re emotionless if they don’t rack up crippling debts on Christmas crackers and Tamagotchi, hip hop barks at you in hyper-real colours that if you aren’t sipping Dom Perignon for breakfast out of your 24 carat chalice then you are probably gay, and if you are gay and don’t possess irrational fears of a particular sexual orientation then you will be beaten up and ostracized; because homosexuality is for broke motherfuckers with zero percent swag.
As you can probably tell, hip hop has a lot of weird issues bubbling under the surface, much like the aforementioned Dom Perignon; only the bubbles are made of homophobia, financial instability and tiny pieces of Hype Williams.
This is an extract from the Spring Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Photo by Kevin Morosky
Words by Thomas Usher