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Monday, October 06, 2008
12:00 AM

Music First


I should have been told in school that my lofty dreams would have a much easier time being achieved if they were preceded by a music career.

Over the past few months I’ve noticed that artists can be anything they want to be as long as they rap or sing first. I think we all know they can be designers – like even genuine ones now.

But did you know they can also be animators? Ne-Yo the Negro Turtle is in talks with the Cartoon Network to develop an animated series. And last week I read that he’s trying to do a semi-autobiographical film. Who knew Go-Go’s life was interesting enough to warrant a sort-of biopic.

T.I.’s looking for the same kind of flick for himself, and with the third film of his three picture deal with Screen Gem still open, I’m sure he can get it. Then again, he may be beaten to the punch by the time he’s released. Oh well, he still plans on releasing non-fiction books, so he can always fall back on that, his film career, and his upcoming clothing line.

But if that’s not enough, he can also look to TV once he’s out, since rappers seem to be handed pilot deals left and right. Just look at Kanye, who’s been in talks with HBO to do his own series for months and word leaked a few weeks ago that he’s also talking with Comedy Central for another show. The former has been described as the “Black Curb Your Enthusiasm” while the would be Comedy Central series has been hailed as “The Black Muppets.”

Maybe Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, and Nancy Wilson can be “The Black Golden Girls.” I bet Pharrell could produce the sitcom since he’s supposedly doing that in addition to designing jewelry, a clothing line, and hawking Microsoft (he uses a MAC, but shh, don’t snitch).

Before I get branded an even bigger hater, I’m not actually mad at any of these artists for building their brands. In fact, I think there’s a benefit to it. Take Alicia Keys, who purchased a writer’s script at the Tribeca Film Festival. With artists being so young and thus typically more opened minded, they can provide opportunities to individuals who would otherwise be ignored by more xenophobic executives.

And Will Smith and Queen Latifah are two other examples of the possibilities. Enough said.

I guess my point would be that while this is a good thing for them, sometimes I worry about the other Black actors, writers, designers, directors, and other varied creative types who are not music artists. People train to do what’s essentially being given away to other people with no experience who can coast on their celebrity status.

Some of these people haven’t even proven that they can churn a profit off their name alone yet more and more it’s them being awarded opportunities versus those without a single available for ringtone.

It’s not as large a problem for whites (though I feel some of ya’ll on these Hills chicks getting over on their bland personalities) since it’s more of them. But you know, other people may feel otherwise, so let me know, is this just the rantings of a stifled artist or are my concerns legitimate?

I plan on dropping an album either way.

The Cynical Ones.
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