Hip-hop scholars and fans have long made the argument that the materialism and consumerism advocated and embodied by some hip-hop artists cannot be separated from the fact that many rappers actually come from backgrounds of poverty and deprivation. They – like all of us – receive the all-American message that our individual worth is tied up in what and how much we own – or what it looks like we look own. The odes to unbridled capitalism
But at what point, if any, does the relentless materialism become fair game for pushback, especially since it so often accompanies scalding disdain for “broke niggas” and their struggles – which are also the struggles of the vast majority of people on the planet? At what point can we parse celebration of individual rappers’ success from a critique of their perpetuation of the very mindsets and structures they had to overcome?
Just watch the new clip for ‘Raf” (the single itself features the all-star crew of Rocky, Playboi Carti, Migos’ Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, and Frank Ocean,) and admire the parade of pricey designer clothes.
Top photo courtesy Eva Al Desnudo /Highsnobiety.