I guess at this point can we all say a big ‘RIP’ to one of the biggest casualties of consumer capitalism in the music world - HipHop. Lost in the superficial haze of money, ego and women hating, the most badass political movement of the last 30 years got eaten up by the consumerist machine and spat out as corporate sponsored cultural advertisements for brands who don’t give a toss about the music or its culture…. and then rappers make tunes about how this is the case… and we buy them. Is it just me that thinks this is weird? It seems Eminem, Jay-Z, Dre and Fiddy agree with me:
If you have the ability to compulsively dip your platinum card into the consumerist orgy with any amount of regularity it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that none of it is filling that gnawing hole in your soul. In the same way that if you’ve dedicated your life to getting to the point where you can travel the world getting paid well for playing your music to rabid music lovers, sooner or later this too becomes meaningless if it’s done for the fame, adulation and approval of others. And that shit hurts! The higher you go the more painful it is to realize that money, fame and approval mean nothing at the end of the day. Of course it would be a lot cheaper and easier if we had these realizations before we even left school, but the dark side is strong Luke, and most of grow up with the consumerist myth tattooed across the part of our heart that’s labeled “The Meaning of Life”.
You don’t believe me? Here’s an example of the kinds of messages we live and breath in our mental environment in 2012. I found these awesome sneakers in a market in Mumbai India of all places. Che Guevera sneakers in Rastafarian colors!! Absolutely solid gold comedy and beyond any kind of irony that could ever be planned. I should have bought them, really I should.
So even anti-capitalist militant Revolutionaries get co-opted by the aspirational marketeers of the consumerist attack on sanity! So what chance did a bunch of rappers have, even if we did have Public Enemy and Dead Prez on our side back in the day. I shouldn’t be so hard on Rap.
10 years ago in ‘Take the Power Back’, Rage Against the Machine sung “In the right light, study becomes insight, But the system that dissed us, Teaches us to read and write… We gotta take the power back”. They called for revolution in the streets. But this time it’s not about a violent revolution. It’s about changing our mindset. To paraphrase a piece of graffiti I found in San Fran….. “Capitalism could be over if you want it to be”.
So what is the “study” that becomes “insight”? Learning not to buy into the system!
So that does that mean you can’t have any nice shit? Hell No. I have an iPhone and a coupla nice pairs of sneakers. But I’m not dying for my next pair before these ones wear out. It’s a mental attitude, not some kind of abstinence from stuff you like. In fact here’s how you get everything you want, right away. Just be content with what you have! There, I said it. Instantly you become way happier without having to do anything. Sounds almost too simple to be true, but its RADICAL. It’s called ‘Santosha’ in the Yogic tradition. You can dismiss it as the mad ravings of the lunatic fringe, but here’s a whole book by a Professor of Social Theory and Social Action on why being content with what you have and not engaging in the consumerist mind fuck is a good idea.
I read a bunch of books like this and after tens of thousands of words of rebuttal of the consumerist paradigm it can all be summed up in 1 word…. “Santosha”. Be Content. Master Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote this down as the 2nd of the “Niyamas” (Observances) two and a half thousand years ago, and very little has changed since then it seems. Like a bullet from a gun it flies through the centuries and strikes at the very heart of our 21st century post millennial angst. It still works, it’s still 100% bullshit proof, and the more our scientists delve into the inner workings of the mind the more evidence is mounting up in it’s favor. But best of all, any of us can pull the trigger any time we want to.
So go and start your own Revolution.
Fuck the system, be content.