OG is one who standing on his own feet, a boss is one who guarantee we gone eat….Jerry Jones money nigga you a running back, Hershel walker, Bo jack, Ricky waters, better run that dope back— Rick Ross ,“I’m a Boss.”
Slave to a label but I own my masters—Pharoahe Monch, “Desire.”
There remains in contemporary rap (mainstream, radio) an element that is counterintuitive to the essence or core of authentic Hip Hop. This element is based solely on the pursuit of a dollar without the business acumen or wherewithal to build a residential income. Yes, there are a few dollars that are being made by a chosen few but that money is not being funneled back into money making machines-businesses- that will ultimately give the rapper more income.
Rick Ross hones in on the concept by dispelling the myth of OG’s as if they are Robin Hood figures with the community always in mind. He denotes that they are “standing on their own feet.” Interestingly, he is not knocking them for their hustle but he is ultimately showing that their primary concern are themselves. They have a hustler’s mentality but they are not focused upon helping the community at large. He juxtaposes this with his defining of a boss. His use of the term boss being one who is concerned about making sure everybody gets a piece of the pie. Now this flies in the face of most of the thoughts that Hip Hop is linked with nowadays. Ross places the emphatic word “guarantee” to signify that this will happen, perceptively.
He then proceeds to develop a strategy that contradicts the status quo –ownership. He pronounces that he either has or wants Jerry Jones’ (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) money in comparison to being a simple runner like the aforementioned backs. Amos Wilson denotes in his seminal work, Blueprint for Black Power:
Ownership is sovereignty. The owners of the means of production in effect dominate those people who depend on them for survival and for maintaining and enhancing their quality of life. In capital societies national and multinational corporate hegemons and their satellites markedly influence the quality, rhythms, order and direction of people’s lives…
So what we have is this “primitive accumulation of wealth” (Marxist term) that situates some to work hard and own, while the others settle with the mundaness of working for a wage. Ross highlights this Marxist feat with astuteness and precision choosing to be the one that works hard and obtain ownership.
Much the same we find Pharoahe Monch, taking the same initiative to own. The very same hegemonic force is at work but the context is different. Monche accepts the fact that he is enslaved but yet he claims to be in control of his master. This paradoxical statement laced with metaphorical implications of leveraging otherss power to catapult one into greatness. The slave (noun) should be connected to the master but in the sense he is connected to the label. The label then embodies the characterization of the master but only with distributive power. So production is not suspended but is actually supplied by the master who is represented by the label. So the slave being in the (k)now, has the potential to use and control the master for his benefits-long term.
The emphasis here is that the residential income will over shadow the short term monetary gain but also allow for creative control; this allows for the slave (artist) to develop and produce what is quality for themselves instead of the corporate money machine. Albert Camus writes, “The very moment the slave refuses to obey the humiliating orders of his masters, he simultaneously rejects the condition of slavery.” So the slave has reached a point that he would not have if he had stayed complacent within the system.
The lessons learned from Ross and Monche highlight the need to rethink current mental models of greatness and strive to own. Yes there may be a time that we will be in a place of followship but that is not a place that we should stay. Ownership tests the resolve of the will to succeed through adversity. It is through adversity that change, growth and legacy is built.