Corporatocracy. A word few people are comfortable using, and even fewer who comprehend its inherent meaning. An autocratic regime of corporations. Big business, big brother, all day, every day. While you sleep, it plays in the background, through your alarm clock, cellular phone, the bed you slept in, the apartment you live in, the clothes you were wearing. All that shit. You might have even seen a tinge of product placement in a dream you had. It’s that close. Like balls deep close, no lube. Doesn’t that seem strange? Something that can have us prone and bloody in a heartbeat, is the same something that eludes our mind’s ability to perceive it.
Let’s use an analogy to illustrate how this ‘mechanism’ operates in our society today. How about media? Art? Entertainment? Music… culture?
So I’m sitting here, two beers and a bowl of green in, landed on home base after a quick visit to a trick, and I put some tunes on. Who comes up first but, Lola Monroe. This bitch has been out for years, and I’m only hearing about her now. Coinky-dink? Not really.
Let’s take a look in a seemingly unrelated direction and talk about industry. To all music lovers, we have borne witness to the divorce of artistry from industry, but why is that pattern so consistent? If the music industry is supposed to be making a good product, and providing a good service, why is no one buying music anymore? Why are the artists that we want to hear never available when we want them? As a consumer, I find this infuriating, and as a musician, I find it unacceptable.
Another paradigm shift. Lola Monroe has been releasing ‘mixtapes‘ for about 3 or 4 years now. This story is a repeating situation I have become a part of. I see a very beautiful and talented black woman (female rappers especially, but singers, actors, models and other artists fall prey as well), of capable means and clout denied the opportunity to connect with a mainstream voice. To find her I have to stumble upon her, reading the comments of the viewer of a video by a completely different artist (Brianna Perry – ‘Marilyn Monroe‘). I find out about Lola’s new song, ‘Don’t Wake Me‘ and think to myself “thank goodness for the internet, otherwise I’d never know her”. Now, Lola’s track hasn’t been getting as much airplay as Brianna, and they are still beautiful and talented. What is the deciding factor between them?
Let’s take another look at corporate culture. Corporations are artificial people, recognized by law, that are created to serve a purpose. They hold no physical space other than an office, or on paper. A corporation can own or even be a record label. What do record labels produce? They produce music from so-called recording artists. They used to call them singers, musicians and dancers performing artists, but with all the editing in post production, people recognized that the previous title did not apply, and so the term ‘recording artist’ was born. This term gently insinuates that the artist’s main focus is to create a viable recording for sale (product). The service, however; is no longer performance, but a mish-mash of lip synching and composite recordings performed while simultaneously grinding out another tired bit of cheap choreography. This is passed off as art, and we wonder why the industry gives us shit.
Back to the original phrase, corporatocrasy. In this modern society, we are all subject to the influence of a certain power structure. A certain hegemonic establishment. It has existed in one form or another for at least a millenium. The mere fact that it has existed alongside the development of human civilization and flourished, means that some facet of civilization is fuelling it. We are feeding it, and we don’t realize it.
Money is the modern slavery. Money equals debt. Debt equals slavery. Currency infers control over the perceived “culture of scarcity” that we currently inhabit. While we all know that it is an illusion, we allow this mechanism to control our civilization, and thusly, us. We can’t see our lives without controlled access to goods and services so we allow money to control our access to it. Does this make sense?
Switch back to them rap bitches. All these young rap bitches on the come up are trynna look some type of way… And we ALL see it. Blonde weave on a black chick. Light skin tone. Over-processed skin and high flash. No pores or real skin complexion. Different coloured contact lenses. The same hair-dos. The same outfits. The same swagger, the same flows, sometimes even the same rhymes. We see that many females are all making their best effort for some coveted ‘throne’. While all this happens, the label they belong to advises them on the best ways to reach success. They dole out an image for the artist, writers, producers, stylists, hair stylists, make-up artists, photographers, video techs and more. They make an agreement with said artist about terms and conditions of ensuring this manufactured and highly guaranteed path to success. The artist believes she (or he, this applies to everyone in the game) will have a better opportunity being signed to a major label. So they do it.
Corporations are mechanisms, which means that they can be controlled and influenced and can be used to control and influence other people. If the free market says that only cotton clothing is available for purchase at a majority of stores, most people won’t investigate into hemp clothing (but that’s a tangent for another time). Who controls the corporation? Who created corporations, in the first place, anyway? What agenda do the rulers (seen or unseen) of said corporations have in mind? Other questions that come to mind are, who pays for the shit we are exposed to, what is marketing and advertising, and what role do sociology, anthropology and human psychology play in the decisions corporations make?
For instance, does it bug you that some random commercial interrupts you while you’re getting ready to watch something on youtube? You didn’t get a say in the appearance of the ad, and now you’re stuck watching it for 5 seconds. If this was a television commercial, you might be able to change the channel, but online you have to wait. Shit takes up the whole fucking screen and audio too. Ain’t that a bitch tho?
We, the public, are the victims of the whims of corporations. Corporations decide for us what we have access to. To gain access to anything we want, we need money to pay for it, otherwise your ass ain’t gettin’ shit. Even before you bring paper to the equation, the corporation has decided what options are available to you, and when you go looking for something you only find what the corporations offer. Is that all there is on the free market, or is there more?
Ask Lola Monroe, Brianna Perry, Azealia Banks or even Nicki Minaj. Ask a lot of women out there who feel they want to be desired but don’t know how to get what they want without compromising some part of their identity, or better yet integrity. One day we saw you rolling with a certain crowd, sporting a certain look and the next day you changed the whole thing up (and NOT for the better). In hustling culture (that’s turning tricks), we call that a ‘bait-and-switch’. Someone tells you something you want to hear (I’m the most down, for real female mc ever) and then switches it out for something you didn’t even ask for (oh btw, now I’m blonde, I’m also a barbie, I’m also about 10 shades lighter, and I’m not talking about anything real anymore, period). And you think to yourself “what kind of chump do you take me for”?
That’s where I’m at with female rappers (and music) at the moment. None of the good choices I want are readily available, and when I do give someone a shot they switch it up on me, and make me wish I kept my money and my time at home. Thanks corporatocracy, you bought the labels they were on and forced a circle into a square peg. Now I’ve got a schizophrenic rap bitch on my hands, and you got away with my money, again…