IS IT ME? PART 11 the rap taboo list

“I am not a rapper!” You may have heard this phrase from some of your favorite emcees over the years. Some of them want you to view them as hustlers or criminals that just happen to magically be good at putting words together. Others just can’t rap too well and don’t want you to judge them harshly. Either way, with all the issues concerning Rick Ross’s past and the whispers I hear about one guy going to college for nursing or another guy getting knocked out, I’ve decided to compile a tough rapper taboo list. Maybe that’s not an accurate title but if you’re a thug emcee on the rise then these are the top things you want to avoid being labeled or things you simply want to stay away from until you reach that level of success where it doesn’t matter.

10. A JOB
Having a job is not the worst thing in the world which is why it’s low on the list. However, it depends on what you do as an occupation and what you spit on the mic. If you kill people and flip weight in your songs but you take orders and flip burgers at work that’s not going to add up. If you talk about life and times in your rhymes and you’re at Verizon or UPS then no one’s going to crucify you. You can always say your 9 to 5 is a front while you hit the highway on the weekends “pushing them keys” or whatever the popular term is. But if you know that’s not your thing and your co-workers are going to hear your raps and say “Howard! I didn’t know you sold drugs.” It’s going to mess you up in the streets. It may be strenuous to work and keep it on the low while pursuing a rap career so my suggestion is throw the gig into the music. If getting up early every morning puts rims on your ride, Pradas on your feet and funds your mixtapes then you’re a step ahead of that guy selling his CDs on the corner that can’t buy a bottle at the club so it ain’t all bad.

I’m not saying go out and do crime but at some point you need some friends that can at least say you did some type of dirt. And I’m not sure what kind of criminal act you should get into that won’t land you in a penitentiary or get you killed. But this is the thug rap guy price you have to pay. Shooting someone after your career has begun is a little late but if you weren’t a bad ass before the booth then you have to get into trouble without it looking too deliberate. Think who you can stab up or who has a good weed connect or maybe find some goonish cohorts to associate with so people can say “they be wildin'” instead of “he be wildin’.”
The challenging part of this is promoting it. Getting a few bullets in you was the best way years ago but even that marketing plan is old now. Facebook and Twitter are the new age word spreaders. Just imagine switching your status to “got dem thangs for 18.5” or “just made it back from one of those trips, cops ain’t catch me, thank God.” Or keep it simple “sellin’ crack right now!”

Prison is no joke. Any artist that’s been thru the system is more focused on not returning than glorifying it. If you sincerely believe that jail is somewhere you can build a rep, secure street credibility or add to your thug résumé then you need to put the mic down, stop reading this and visit someone in a correctional facility. That’s all I have to say about that…back to the sarcasm.
If you have some type of bachelors, masters, PhD, high school diploma, world record SAT score or even a GED then you better cover your tracks. People will find your report card, scan it and tell the world about your academic accolades. I know you weren’t thinking about your future hardcore rap dreams when you were studying and getting those A’s or when you even decided to show up to class on time but its too late now. We know educated rebels seem cool in a sense but the mystery about how a “gansta” obtains his knowledge is the intriguing part. Science awards, dean’s list honors, or just finishing school period are all blemishes on your record. Of course there are exceptions to the rules but dropping out of high school is the perfect peak for an education level when you’re a tough killer. Any pictures with that silly graduation cap or proof that you took it further and got degrees is bad news. Although in the case of a John Forté, who I remember as a smart kid, he didn’t publicize his illegal life much and then actually served time for it. But never mind that, you can’t erase the past but be aware that brainiacs and bullets don’t match in the rap game.

Everyone has parents and grandparents and all that. But exposing the fact that you have one woman or a wife can be touchy. The husband image doesn’t always match a gangsta but you can work the angle if it’s done carefully. The people want to believe that you can have any girl you want at any time. They want to think that you will not only shoot anyone but that there’s no way to hurt you other than coming right at you. Having kids is kind of ok because that shows a little bit of a human side but don’t go overboard and do songs about them. Unless of course they’re tough guys too. Throw them into your rap beef, let them hold weapons in videos and put them on a song or 2. If you’re going to have seeds then they might as well be promotional tools. Get the world to know them on a first name basis like Eminem’s wife and kid if you’re going to have a family. If you’re not going to do that then get rid of them, they’re dead weight.

If you’ve ever been a policeman, correctional officer, state patrolmen, park ranger, school crossing guard, mall cop, town sheriff or hall monitor then rapper should not be added to this list. I don’t know what the hip-hop community exactly has against law enforcement but it just seems to be one of those occupations that we disagree with. It’s like hearing someone is a pedophile or an alien or something if they’ve been on the force. We scrunch up our faces and look at them in disgust as if they are part of a gang…and we almost view that gang like the Klan. I don’t think like that but the public does. Maybe Rick can spin his scenario to make it cool to be a cop and things will change. Can’t wait to see that…

Thug and baller don’t always go together but there are plenty of times that artists have the big chain to go along with the threatening talk. The large pendant and the cool gear silently scream “I’m rich” to the people. So if you’re ever out to a dinner and can’t pay the tab without blinking or you’re on the line for a party and you make the “hell no” face at a bottle price in front of people the word might get out. Keep a baller with you if you’re not the money man. Say things like “I don’t keep cash Ma” or “My mans got it.” Give the bathroom attendant mad one dollar bills if dudes are looking. If you have to take public transportation then dress as flashy as you can with 2 chains out and if you get into a situation that might expose your financial hardships like an after the party diner trip or a female request for something while eyes are on you then just walk away.

In this Youtube, upload footage era, people are just thirsty to see someone get into a predicament where they fall from grace. The more you build yourself up, the more folks want to see you fall. Cats will try to rob you and not even for the money or jewels but for the look and the views. They want to knock you out and film it or have your chain on making themselves hot. This is difficult to avoid but if something’s going to go down, try and peep for the cameras because as long as no one captures it then it’s your word against theirs.

From “pause” to “no homo” the hip-hop world has never been shy about its fear of homosexuality. Nobody wants to be thought of or perceived as a fruit. We’re so paranoid that we “pause” sentences that may contain words or phrases than can be taken in the wrong context but the truth is the gayest person in the world wouldn’t catch 80 percent of the things we pause.
I remember interning at Roc-a-fella and being shook to say anything that sounded like it could be remotely close to something sweet. I didn’t see Brokeback, I’m not going to check out Milk and yet I don’t hate anyone for their life decisions but we all know the worst possible thing a rapper can be is a same sex offender. For the females it’s not that bad but for the male emcees, a gay rumor can kill you. Wendy Williams threatened to expose the gay rapper years ago and had the industry going nuts…pause. If you happen to play for the other team then you might just want to be a music executive or something instead of an artist, you’ll climb up the ladder much faster from what I hear. Again, I have no beef with those who like to hang with hard legs, I just know of all the taboo things to be, this is by far the biggest no-no there is. So if you have ventured into that world then you should kill anyone who knows or pay them off…no I was right the 1st time…yea you better kill them.

The bottom-line of it all is even if you do data entry or you’re a chauffeur during the day that has never been to jail but has a masters degree in botany and you’re only crime is Limewire downloading and you live with your grandparents, wife, 2 stepkids and one child of your own and you’re a habitual informant that drinks from other people’s unfinished champagne bottles in the club and the footage of you getting smacked up by your down low boyfriend is on the internet you can still be a hardcore rapper…if you tell the truth. Hip-hop heads are strict but they respect authenticity over everything. So just say “Yea that’s me, so what!?” And you’re straight…unless you’re not straight but you can still make it and come out on top…pause.

-The Present

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