It's My Beat

(Beta Max)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"The top feels so much better than the bottom"

*"Hate It Or Love It" MP3*

Or so adlibs 50 Cent on "Window Shopper", the second single from the soundtrack to his biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. I wouldn't know. In comparison, I live a pathetically humble existence. I don't know what it feels like to lay up in Monaco's L'Hôtel Hermitage . I stayed in a modest but clean Parisian hotel during my first Gallic sojourn in the early nineties and in quaint latin quarter accomodations on my last visit in 2001. When I converted my mother's hard earned cash into francs, I spent them at Zara and Mango not Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin. I don't know anything about Gulfstream IV travel. I have always flown coach except when a well connected friend of my mother charmed a booking agent on my behalf or my former summer internship employer Goldman Sachs footed the bill or when, providentially, my flight was overbooked and the airline was obligated to bump my black ass up. I satiate my obsession for designer duds at Off Fifth and Last Call or high end outlet mall Woodbury Commons. During undergraduate glory days when my pockets benefited from a full academic scholarship and generous parental subsidies, I regularly swiped the debit card for items at Jeffrey's or Saks at Atlanta's Phipps Plaza but alas those days are over and I'm little more than a window shopper in department stores looking at shit I can't buy.

There is something sinister about corporate culture's canonization of a bully. 50 Cent makes listeners like me feel bad about themselves and that lack is what drives their consumption. Consumption of not only his music and his products but all global goods and services. In turn a global few, mostly white, male and western, live lovely while the masses barely subsist. On "Hate It or Love It", a supposedly feel good track by 50's friend turned foe The Game, 50 rhymes, "From the beginning to the end losers lose, winners win. This is real, we ain't gonna pretend," positioning his Darwinistic outlook as fact. A part of me was outraged even as I nodded in assent. Life is more sob stories than tales of rags to riches and in those rare cases that men or women of meager backgrounds 'make it', it is more often by assimilation and exploitation than revolution. That is the American Dream as broadcast to every contintent, as originated in transatlantic slavery. Pimp hard, pimp harder.

There are two ways to listen to 50, oppositionally and aspirationally. To do the latter one must become a loser. Literally. But really it's ok. We must remember it's a game that we don't want to play. This makes us vulnerable where 50 is Bulletproof, hyper material, virtually immortal and numb. But it grants us freedom. Nobody told us the road would be easy.