Attention Black Artists: Your Services Are No Longer Needed. Sincerely, The Music Industry.

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The following comes from Sebastien Elkouby, a noted hip-hop culture historian, freelance writer, creative consultant, and award-winning educator.  Reprinted with permission from RapRehab, where this first appeared.

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Dear Black Artists,

We regret to inform you that the need for your services will soon come to an end as we enter a critical restructuring period. Fortunately, after having spent nearly a century meticulously studying your art, language, fashion, and lifestyle, we have learned enough to confidently move forward without your assistance.

We thank you for your contributions but have decided to make some necessary changes as a result of your decreasing value.

Focus groups show that consumers are looking for more relatable images.  While 2013 marked the first time in Billboard’s 55 year history that there were no black artists on top of the Hot 100 chart, this was a great year for us with Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and Macklemore claiming the #1 spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, proving that market demands are shifting. Consequently, in the next few months, we will be gradually phasing out your positions as we finalize this reorganization. In the meantime, we ask you to continue with business as usual, training your replacements Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber until instructed otherwise.

Your severance package includes a lifetime supply of Air Jordans, unlimited access to reruns of “Love and Hip Hop”, a new 30-piece Tom Ford wardrobe, and the latest iPhone. Your medical coverage will be provided through ObamaCare.

We want you to know that your termination is in no way a statement about the quality of your work with us. As such, we would like to acknowledge your outstanding contributions to the industry over the past decades.

In music, we’d like to thank Kendrick Lamar’s thought-provoking body of work which has opened the door for Macklemore, a shining example of what intelligent rap looks like.

In business, Jay Z’s partnership with Samsung was historical as the Korean mobile company paid the rapper a mere $5 million and his company Roc Nation, another $15 million, a bargain deal relative to their standard annual $4 billion marketing budget and $220 billion net worth.

In fashion, while Kanye West may be experiencing difficulties launching his own brand, his loyalty to European designers continues to add value to an already thriving industry that other entertainers like Migos seem to enjoy promoting for free.

In cinema, “The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave” were Oscar-worthy gems, showcasing the strength and pride of a resilient people.  We understand that this year, you will continue this tradition of inspiring historical films with the May release of “Belle” and the History Channel’s forthcoming reboot of the groundbreaking 70′s televised series, “Roots”. Your work did not go unnoticed as it has inspired us to produce new historical movies of our own, depicting our rich cultural heritage.

Upcoming releases include:

  • “Son of God” produced by reality TV pioneer Mark Burnett and starring Diogo Morgado
“Noah” starring Russell Crowe
  • “Exodus” starring Christian Bale as Moses
“Mary, Mother of Christ” starring 16 year old Odeya Rush

Just as your movies depict the struggles and achievements of your best and brightest, these powerful films are meant to inspire and remind us of our glorious past and divine lineage.

In an attempt to capitalize on the recent trend in movies that focus on triumphs of the African-American experience, we have recently begun developing films with similar themes.  Channing Tatum has just been cast as the lead in The Nat Turner Story while Scarlett Johansson is reported to have accepted the role of Harriet Tubman in a forthcoming biopic.  Like Quentin Tarentino’s Django Unchained, both movies promise to offer the perfect balance between shoot-em-up style action and social commentary while boasting two smash-hit soundtracks featuring Eminem, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha.

Again, none of this could have been accomplished without your unwavering commitment and dedication to our mission.  We trust that your transition will be smooth and wish you continued success with your new journey into Electronic Dance Music.

The Industry
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Warning: this is a satire.

Check out Sebastien’s educational program, Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture and his blog,  For more info about his creative consulting services, contact him at


21 Responses

  1. Bruce Burbank

    As soon as we all, as a society, learn to accept that white people are not automatically enemies of black people just because they are white, and black people are not automatically enemies of white people just because they are black, perhaps one day we’ll greet every person, stranger to us or not, regardless of skin color, with a handshake rather than clenched fists.

    Before then, we’ll continue to get destructive diatribes like this one, full of a sense of entitlement and quick to blame others and furthering the ‘whitey trying to keep the black man down’ mentality.

    But I’m old and cynical, so I don’t expect it’ll change. I guess Rodney King was asking a bit too much, wasn’t he?

    It’s not Us vs. Them. But articles like this are just building the wall higher.

    • JImmy

      Whites are blinded by their own comforts, some intentionally some not.

      Of course white people will rip off and steal wherever they can from whoever the can. That’s what the do best, and they’ve been doing it for centuries, just look at all the land they stole.

      The real question is when will these other races get clued up?

  2. Anonymous

    “Scarlett Johansson is reported to have accepted the role of Harriet Tubman”

    Hahaa, I want to see that. 🙂

  3. Vipul Sharma

    Really? Air Jordans? Love and Hip Hop??

    What brilliant cliches!

    (Paul: disclaimer aside, what exactly is the purpose of reposting this (a “satire” piece) on Digital Music News? Regardless of the author’s race and attempt at humor — and it’s not funny — this doesn’t belong here. Unless, of course, you’re going the Buzzfeed route.)

    • Vipul Sharma

      the ‘sarcasm’ tags around “What brilliant cliches!” are not being displayed.

      So I want to clarify that I don’t believe they are brilliant cliches. Worn-out, more like.

  4. AitchDee

    I would advise the author to be very careful in his use of satire…
    Some people just don’t get it…

  5. Danwriter

    The same was true about Pat Boone and Elvis Presley 50 years ago. The cycle repeats.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I was standing on a street corner in Bogotá recently, speaking with two street performers. One was white, the other black; they were a tandem making money during red lights (do a fancy juggle, collect money from cars). Both were Colombian: like the US, there’s a healthy mixture of different races and ethnic origins. But the difference is that there isn’t this depressing undercurrent of racism there like the US.

      Both were incredibly curious about the US. They were both poor, and dreamed of traveling to where I live, Los Angeles (among other locations).

      The black performer asked me if racism was a big problem in the US. I wasn’t sure what to say. He’d of course heard all of the horror stories that we know by heart; our country required a revolution to change hardened, racist laws and behaviors. He was wondering if it would be a nightmare for him to even travel to the US (remember, he’d never been outside of Colombia most likely).

      How could I describe the situation to him? I told him that the situation isn’t perfect, there is still considerable racism depending on the region. There is still very serious segregation: not separate water fountains or services, but neighborhoods segregated by white and black, not to mention other races. We have a black president, I reminded him, but it’s still a problem.

      I hate to say this, but the history of America, and American music, has a depressing thread of racism to it. Black artists have been stolen from, appropriated, and used throughout history; I celebrate rap because it finally put the actual creators, black performers, at the forefront. But without the African-American influence, American music – not to mention the music of the UK and countless other countries and regions – just wouldn’t be the same.

      So, while I may not agree with large portions of this post, and disagree with many aspects of its approach, I understand where it is coming from. And I think it’s important to post.

      • PiratesWinLOL

        It seems to me that in general the US has more of a reverse problem, with racist affirmative action laws, extreme black on white/asian/hispanic crime rates and a lot of bigotry, whining and hate from the black people. Just look at the Black Panther movement, the childish NOI religion or the reaction to the cases with Zimmerman or O.J. Simpsons.Where I come from, people wouldn’t have time for such garbage.

        • ICantEven

          Affirmative Action benefits white females more than any other demographic.

          What extreme crime rates?

          The Black Panther party existed primarily to create neighborhood amenities that the local/national government would not, the most famous being their Free Breakfast program for children.

          What’s childish about Nation of Islam?

          You sound like a tired, worn-out, misinformed broken record. Over it. Turn off the TV and do some research.

          • PiratesWinLOL

            “Affirmative Action benefits white females more than any other demographic.”

            I am sure the apartheid laws of S.A. also benefited white women quite a lot, which made them fine according to you then.

            “What extreme crime rates?”

            52,5 percent of homocides in the period 1980-2008 is one example.

            “The Black Panther party existed primarily to create neighborhood amenities that the local/national government would not, the most famous being their Free Breakfast program for children.”

            There is nothing like a good breakfast before you go out and intimidate voters, which you suspect will not vote for Obama. A “kill whitey” tattoo on your face and loaded gun in your pocket will also help you on your mission.

            “What’s childish about Nation of Islam?”

            It is pretty childish to believe that 6600 years ago, a black scientist named Yakub created white people, to be a “race of devils”. Of course that is just one example, but certainly not the only one. The whole thing is like it is made up by an angry 10 year old.

          • whitetruth

            Your responses are typical of whites who ignore the realities of systemic racism…

  6. Lewis Ryan

    If Macklemore is “intelligent” rap, I’m a flying cantaloupe.

  7. Midwestern

    Pharell currently has the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, and he wrote and produced the #1 song for Robin Thicke.
    Aside from being click bait and entitled bullshit. This article is just stupid wrong on so many levels. The “music industry” decides what song goes to #1? I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the Urban music genre hadn’t exactly Ben putting out great mass-appeal records lately. Kendrick’s ALBUM is great, even classic, but what song on it sounds like a #1 U.S. song? Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe? Really?
    I’m sure the author got plenty of clicks and stirred up lots of resentful feelings but I don’t think he knows what kind of songs the American people like at #1 on the pop charts. Maybe should take a closer look at the Urban music industry and notice that the artists are all co-writing their songs along with other writers who happen to be managed by their same manager or their A&R happens to have his own publishing company and he’s pushing a clique of writers etc.

  8. Midwestern

    I repeat, this article is crying about black artists not having #1 SONGS on the U.S. Pop chart (even though Pharell is currently sitting there). It’s not about black artist sales or record deals or promotion budgets. It even complains about Jay-Z getting twenty million dollars to release his album five days early on Samsung phones, why complain about that? I’m not sure, maybe they should have given him 200 million dollars? Sorry but this is garbage. Write an article about Urban music forgetting about great pop songs and how it’s getting formulaic and self referential.

  9. The Voice of Reason

    Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West and Marmalade Fuckstick or whatever they are called are soulless, gutless pieces of pre manufactured crap…absolutely horrible. Kanye takes that farther as an official piece of shit

  10. DC

    The problem that most white people have is that they believe that they understand the plight of people of color and the truth is they don’t, nor will they ever. Its not entirely their fault but its the truth. The systems that are in place in this country are designed to keep people of color (primarily black) at a disadvantage (examples provided upon request).

    Now in terms of the music business, the SYSTEM of white superiority is in place full time. We have URBAN MUSIC departments being headed by white people who have no understanding of the music, people, or culture.

    What happens as a result are the wrong kinds of acts being signed, and the wrong price being paid to obtain these acts.

    Next the act comes off of this “hit” record and is still majorly unrecouped and can’t get anything to stick because they weren’t that good to begin with.

    Now you have an act with million or more on the books that cant sell. Multiply this across the board 20-50 times and now you see why black music is struggling…

    The impression is that its the quality of the music and the artists…when really the truth is its the quality of the EXECUTIVE, who is supposed to be the gate keeper, and the executives just to happen to be white in 99% of these scenarios…

  11. R.P.

    such a naive waste of writing. p.s. Latinos were involved in the creation of hip hop too. -_-

  12. toobad

    Well this was written and then reposted on before Pharrell went to #1. He also is the first black Lead artist since 2012 (Rihanna was last) to be #1. There are too many issues in the music industry to just wrap this up in a nice little “racist” bow.

    There is a real frustration when the urban audience watches someone like an Adele skyrocket to number 1 doing essentially retro soul infused pop but someone like Raphael Saadiq who has been doing it for years goes unnoticed.

    We live in an era where the juxtaposition of a white artist who can “sing/dance like a black artist” will always attain a certain level of fetishization and ultimately (if the songs are good) mainstream success. Where a black guy/girl who grew up on the same soul standards and has the same voice doesn’t gain traction because (It’s not interesting enough).

    That being said. The biggest artist in the world is a black woman… Beyonce followed closely by Rihanna. I just think most artists wish there could be diversity among the rest of them.