Tag Archives: Death Row Records

Hip-Hop Pipelines: The Glaring Connection Between Commercial Rap and the Private Prison Industrial Complex

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By: Daniel Hodgman

“We may be 5 percent of the world’s pop but, we 25 percent of the world’s locked up.” -MC Invincible

It’s common belief that the music industry has fully manipulated mainstream hip-hop to glorify violence, drug use, misogyny and materialism. Save for a few select artists in this realm, the music industry’s initiative is quite clear: suppress the music with merit, ethics and substance; support the music that brings in money. This so-called rule of thumb regarding the music industry is nothing new. The book Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business, which was published in 1990, discusses how businesses place profit over ethics, with a stern example focusing on most of the country’s radio station rotations, and how records are bought and paid for by promoters, not the fans. Another saddening example Hit Men points out is that songs become hits primarily because an individual or corporation paid for it to happen, not because of consumer preference. That aside, unless you were unaware before, now you can see that the gangly fingers of the music business have more influence in music than we can ever imagine. But that’s what I would like you to do real quickly: imagine. Imagine something horrifying. Imagine something bleak. Imagine something where the music industry, major label stockholders and private prison owners all profit, while suppressing and incarcerating a population of people in the process. Imagine for me, not the school-to-prison-pipeline (although this devastating catastrophe is another thing we as a nation need to terminate), but rather some sort of commercial rap-to-prison pipeline. Imagination it seems, may not be needed, because the connection between mainstream rap labels and the private prison industrial complex seems to be coming full-circle.

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