The decades-late push for a music tax

2017-06-14 14:52:50 | 日記
The decades-late push for a music tax credit is coming at the same time that MARTA, the city's rapid transit system, is on the cusp of a partial expansion denied it for more than 40 years. Atlanta's legacy of racialized transportation policies is symptomatic of a larger disease. "How many statewide politicians have won elections by running against Atlanta?" Aydin asks. "And yet, those same campaigns are financed by some of the same corporations that exist in Atlanta." The music tax credit will require statewide politicians to buy into a predominantly black music industry, just as MARTA's economic stability and growth on white suburbanites and state regulators opposed to supporting mass transit purportedly used for Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta. Even the bigoted old nickname coined for MARTA still speaks volumes. "When your state government is telling the rest of the state that Atlanta is the problem not the answer, it breeds that strife. It breeds that conflict," Aydin continues. "And eventually I think everybody, the state and city folks, are going to have to realize you have to embrace Atlanta — you have to embrace the weird; you have to embrace the different — because that's our best product. That's our best potential for future growth." Nayvadius Wilburn is the present embodiment of that future. Quite literally. The rapper Future got his stage name from his older cousin Rico Wade, co-founder of the legendary Dungeon Family and Organized Noize. As the story goes, Wade would tell his younger cousin, then an aspiring emcee known as Meathead, that he was indeed the future, the one to carry Vintage Edison Bulb on the Dungeon Family legacy and, in turn, Atlanta hip-hop. The same year Future launched the first in a trio of career-defining mixtapes (Monster, Beast Mode, 56 Nights) that set him up for his first No. 1 album, DS2, Phil W. Hudson began covering music, sports and finance at the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Hudson quickly recognized the huge chasm that existed between the city's hip-hop culture and its business community. While hanging out with one of his finance sources, who worked for a multinational accounting firm that was soliciting a new pro athlete as a client, Hudson asked him, "'Do you guys have any rappers on your roster?'"

The answer surprised him. "I asked why the hell not," Hudson says. "And he said, 'We just never really thought about that.' I said, 'Well that's ridiculous because I'm sure Jermaine Dupri, at the height of his career, was worth more money than some of these major executives in town.'" The more Hudson interviewed Atlanta-based hip-hop talent and executives, the clearer the issue became: Black music's worldwide marketing power was being slept on by some of Atlanta's biggest global brands. "One of the best points that was ever made about the disconnect in Atlanta came from Jermaine Dupri," Hudson says. "He told me he was really shocked that Usher was signed with Pepsi. He was like, 'How can Coca-Cola, the world's biggest behemoth in the soft drink industry, let their fierce rival come into their own backyard and take what is potentially one of our biggest music brands in Usher?" The missed opportunity is even clearer in rap, where artists derive their clout from bragging about lifestyle and luxury brands in songs and videos that often double as major commercial endorsements. It's a simple equation, according to Hudson: "Rappers make things cool. What's cool becomes pop culture. What becomes pop culture sells." Of course, there are exceptions to this alienation. Lil Yachty may not have gotten any stage time at the Grammys this year, despite his first-time nomination, but he still managed to bumrush the show. The Atlanta bubblegum trap act starred alongside pop star Carly Rae Jepsen in an epic Target commercial, the longest of the night at three minutes. Atlanta superproducer Mike Will Made-It was also featured. With his red-beaded braids and a drug-free persona as playful as his music, Yachty's become a brand unto himself. His endorsements include Nautica, the apparel brand he's reviving as its newly-named creative designer, and hometown beverage Sprite. Coke's cooler decaffeinated cousin has actually enjoyed a long relationship with hip-hop. It dates as far back as 1986, when Kurtis Blow appeared in an early commercial rapping the tagline "Now More Than Ever It's Sprite." Along with a host of East Coast legends, other Sprite endorsers over the years have included such foundational Atlanta acts as Kris Kross and Goodie Mob. But most of Atlanta's genre-defining artists over the past couple of decades have remained noticeably absent from the soft drink's hip-hop-themed campaigns.
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