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It’s hard for me to critique the monstrosity that has become commercialized hip-hop culture.  I love hip hop and didn’t even start listening to music until hip-hop hit the scene.  I am a serious fan of quite a few artists, both young and old.  However, hip-hop (at least the stuff we hear on the radio) calls for an intervention, like the relative you love who has been hitting the crack pipe for way too long.  The intervention is necessary to protect our kids from receiving poisonous messages that are wired to ruin their lives.

One of the things that drives me crazy about commercialized hip-hop is that the art form has lost the bulk of its creativity.  When I listen to white guys on the radio, they sing about all kinds of stuff:  the birds in the sky, the iPod they just bought, the girl they are trying to go out on a date with, their days in high school, etc.  Brothers don’t have that kind of range:  We’re only allowed to rap about the same tired stuff that the other dude rapped about in the last song.  “Imma spend it on ya shawty, bottles of Patron fo ya shawty, got my gun for the haters, diamonds on my neck, I’m a playa”…blah, blah, blah, whatever man.

So, to make my point, I thought I would lay out the 10 things that any person needs in order to be a rapper, at least the kind of rapper who gets on the radio.  Call it the Creative Coon Instant Rapper Fun Kit.  I’m sure that every white boy in Iowa already has one:

1)      A really large and overpriced piece of jewelry that you borrowed money to buy:  It can have diamonds, gold, platinum, or whatever and has to be really heavy, as if it might crush your testicles if you move too fast.   Oh, why is your favorite jeweler snickering at you and calling you in the middle of the night to tell you about another piece he just made?  Because he knows you’re gonna be broke after your next album drops and wants to milk your dumb a** before it’s too late.

 2)      Your body must be tattooed so much that even your mama doesn’t recognize you:  I’m just waiting for a rapper to tattoo his own eyeballs, now that would be gangsta.  You better keep making hit records, because it’s hard to get a job with tattoos all over your neck, just ask Thugnificent from the Boondocks.

 3)      You have to be drinking out of a bottle of something that is eventually going to kill you:  If you are going to be a real rapper, liquor must become a food group.  You know Uncle Joe, the alcoholic who lives in yo grandma’s basement?  He used to act just like you 20 years ago.

4)      A gun so you can blast all haters on sight (The Haterologist Extermination Program ):  You’re only keeping it real if you shoot another black man, white boys don’t count.  You can even sell more records if you rap about it, especially if you went to prison.  As black men, we can officially say, that we’ve killed more black people than the KKK (Oh snap, did that rhyme?  Now dats wussup!)

5)      A whole lot of gold, diamonds and other random jewelry in your mouth:  You should be setting off metal detectors, even when you’re butt-naked.

 6)      A pack of random women around you, preferably strippers, all of whom you slept with last night:  Don’t worry about the fact that they’ve had sex with hundreds of dudes before you.  AIDS only happens to other people, Eazy-E was a fluke.

 7)       A pound of weed, an ounce of coke, or a bottle of ‘Sizzurp’ somewhere in the vicinity:  There’s nothing more productive than a black man who is so high that he can’t even get out of bed in the morning.  That was Dr. King’s dream, Malcolm’s too.

 8)      A gang of dudes who follow you everywhere you go for no particular reason:   You’re not a real rapper without a bunch of straight-up thugs from your childhood who are there to “protect” you, but end up shooting somebody at a club who then sues you for everything you’ve got.

 9)      A pocket full of cash so you can make it rain at the club:   Don’t save or invest your money, that’s actin white.  Just go to the club and throw money in the air and take pictures on Twitter with hundred dollar bills hanging out of your hat, that’s what Bill Gates and Oprah do with their money too.

 10)   A full-fledge plan of weaponized, mass-marketed self-destruction:  By being determined to reflect only the worst and most ruinous parts of your humanity, you have become a virus to your community and an exaggerated caricature, thus creating a modern day minstrel show.   Your over-the-top behavior is a reflection of the crabs-in-a-barrel mindset of impoverished, uneducated black men competing for attention by showing that their urban experience is more authentic than the next dude.   You are exporting a false version of the “hood experience” to those who believe that the trauma of urban America is exciting, fun and intriguing, like watching elephants mate in the middle of the jungle.

Every little boy who looks up to you and emulates your distorted perception of manhood and blackness is walking right off a cliff that lands him in a casket, the poorhouse or a prison cell.  You, and the multi-billion dollar plantation owner who keeps you high, ignorant and unfocused, are destroying the futures of millions of kids who ignore their parents and pay attention to you.  When you consider the death toll of black men in America, one can easily argue that you’re part of an extermination plan no less deadly than what Hitler did during World War II.

It’s time to wake up and smell the exploitation.

 Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.