The other day, in an article in Variety that definitely wasn’t some bullshit PR-orchestrated puff piece, Puff Daddy took the entertainment industry to task for its “lack of investment in black enterprise.”
“You have these record companies,” he said, “that are making so much money off our culture, our art form, but they’re not investing or even believing in us.”
He almost sounded like Dame Dash.
I mocked Dame Dash, years ago, for ranting and raving about how the industry is run by culture vultures, how he’s not really broke and how having a job is for people who don’t have any ambition, but Lee Daniels recently promised to give him back the $2 million Dame supposedly loaned him to shoot the movie Shadowboxer, and not just because Dame got in his face at a Diana Ross concert right before she was about to launch into “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”
Dame was upset, in part, because he was passed over for the top job at Def Jam in favor of Joey IE, who once brought Funkmaster Flex scarves and water, for when his throat was parched and his brow was sweaty. IE later bolted Def Jam for Interscope, which is owned by the same white people. The current Def Jam CEO is Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg. As Diddy pointed out in the article in Variety, there isn’t a single black CEO of a major record label.
Meanwhile, look at the top songs on Spotify and, by extension, the Billboard Hot 100. It’s all black people! As of right now, Drake has seven songs in the top 10, breaking a record set by the Beatles way TF back in 1964, but in any given week the list is dominated by songs that are either rap or rap-adjacent. You’d think we were living in Wakanda, not MAGA-era ‘Murica.
Speaking of which, Diddy also made headlines this week for bizarre, largely unintelligible remarks about the movie Black Panther, which he declared was a “cruel experiment.” I think what he meant is that it took Hollywood until 2018 to spend more than like $6 million on a black film, and now that said film has become a phenomenal success they still aren’t willing to cut Diddy a check for $200 million to mount an all-black Love Actually reboot, or whatever it is he has in mind.
Incidentally, the success of Black Panther has been blown out of proportion by black neoliberal types, i.e. the Representation Matters crowd. Yeah, it made more than a billion dollars, which is an important milestone for the black community, and even more so for the white people who actually own it, but it was surpassed by the most recent Avengers movie to the tune of $700 million, i.e. roughly the entire domestic gross of Titanic, which was once the highest grossing movie of all time, of ALL TIME.
Avatar, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and even one of the Fast and the Furious sequels all had black leads, and they all outgrossed Black Panther. How come black people weren’t showing up to the most recent Fast and the Furious movie dressed as car thieves? Uh, never mind.
But I digress.
I was especially impressed with the Puff Daddy article in Variety, because I purposely chose to ignore the recent scandal involving Puff Daddy-owned deep cable network Revolt TV. Namely, the one in which Revolt CEO Roma Khanna, an Indian woman (dots not feathers), was quoted as saying that, like me, she’s intimidated by black woman, and that a Meek Mill-helmed panel on prison reform at the network’s annual Revolt Music Conference should instead focus on not getting locked up in the first place.
Revolt recently laid off a full third of its staff, perhaps signaling an intention to air Duck Dynasty reruns instead of original content, as Viceland does, and according to an anonymous letter from a former staffer, 99% of the people laid off were black. It sounds like maybe the Indian CEO got rid of most of the black people who worked there, other than Diddy himself, to cut down on the level of intimidation in the office, but it’s hard to say without knowing who exactly was let go—or who wrote the letter, for that matter.
Diddy issued a response stating that, after an investigation, it was decided that Khanna wouldn’t be fired, and touting the network’s diversity bona fides. In addition to being run by a “woman of color” (known in industry lingo as a twofer), its staff is “67% ethnically diverse, with 60% of the senior leadership being women.”
67% is a full two-thirds, which is pretty impressive … until you consider the fact that “ethnically diverse” could mean anything other than the absolute whitest of white people. The racist Indian woman who runs the place, for example, would be included in that figure; and it might also include some whites, if, like Elizabeth Warren and Woah Vicky, they’ve somehow been determined to be part-non-white.
Similarly, a 60% female senior leadership is unimpressive both because it suggests discrimination against men, who make up 50% of the population, and because “women” in this case could mean all white women, or all racist non-black “people of color,” i.e. not just the CEO.
If Diddy had a significant number of black people (still) working at Revolt—especially black men, who create all of the actual value in hip-hop culture—he wouldn’t have been so vague and purposely misleading in his statement. But obviously he doesn’t. He’s hardly any better than the white people he’s bitching and moaning about in Variety. But you already knew that from the litany of broke and dead rappers he’s left in his wake.
Take it easy on yourself,