Sunday Tribune

Do the hustle, or is it hip hop?


IHAD such a schadenfre­ude-style belly laugh this week at the phoney “flexing” commercial hip hop reality that has taken over popular culture in the past decade, when learning of the charter jet versus economy class scandal that exploded on social media.

It was delivered by Shad Moss aka Bow Wow – the artist formerly known as Lil’ Bow Wow in the ’90s when he was a lightie and cutie pie protégé of Snoop Dogg. Moss posted a pic on his Instagram alluding to himself boarding a private jet, with added limousine airport transport parked in front of the plane, en route to a New York City press conference to advertise his new reality show, Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta.

Seems pretty innocent and de rigueur for any rapper/reality star worth his weight in gold albums and enforces the aspiration­al image of success so desired by many young people today, evident especially here in South Africa.

Problem was, Moss was captured by another blogger relaxing economy style on a commercial plane, during this bit of fake marketing floss.

Other social media sleuths soon reverse-imaged Moss’s Instagram pic and discovered it was stock footage uplifted from a VIP transporta­tion website in Miami which busted the illusion of financial super success that those obsessed with this lifestyle desire. It might seem petty, but as an example of the overarchin­g commercial­isation of hip hop culture and its overt infatuatio­n with money and popularity, it hits the nail upside the head.

The truth behind the hip hop movement is about authentici­ty and having an original voice that controvers­ially speaks out about class and political hierarchy, similar to the 1970s punk movement.

It also aligns with punk’s do it yourself ethos and in its original stage used to shun the pursuit of money for money’s sake in helping make global conglomera­tions richer via artists’ endorsemen­t of whatever they had to peddle on that particular financial cycle. Not so these days. Being relevant and popular is solely determined on how much you’re banking and, by default, how much you’re spending… or wasting… or plain faking.

It was with this fable in mind (don’t lie about wealth as you’re going to get caught out and laughed at. And to be true to a fable’s definition, this short story does contain a kind of animal, ie a bow-wow) that I’m going to give a short review of the second season of The Hustle. In short, it’s appalling. The three judges, especially AKA, seem to have been chauffeure­d (probably Ubered) back to their so-called thrones, with even more attitude and pomposity than in the first season where they geeked out on the undiscover­ed talent rather than lambasting them with insults and conceitedn­ess.

I should’ve known the tone The Hustle would take this year, when AKA pulled in on the first episode with a fake leather bag filled with a hundred thousand ronts, parading it in front of the hopefuls as if a hundred g’s would change their lives and this was a game show with a money reward rather than a search for unknown artists to launch their careers.

It’s ironic that none of the judges can “flex” on the internatio­nal arena as much as they profess to do, when the real superstar artists landing covers and banking for real are not featuring on reality shows. Instead, we have DJ and producer, Black Coffee, hitching rides on P Diddy’s jet, and old faithful jazz legend Hugh Masekela, aged 78, puts these little wannabee fake rap stars to shame.

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