Hip-Hop is more than a genre of music; it’s a lifestyle. It has grown and evolved, ebbed and flowed, but one thing remains constant: It has always been the soundtrack of “the Hood.”

People can intellectualize, criminalize and/or vilify it, but even if Hip-Hop were to be eradicated from the face of the earth tomorrow, the conditions which spawned it would still be alive and well.

This is why the following letter is so striking.

In a missive currently making the internet rounds, a former music executive claims that he was at a meeting during which industry insiders were brought into the loop on how the private prison industrial complex was directly funded by the government. It was there that he learned that the more bodies that are in cells, the more money the prison complex makes. If, the music execs were allegedly told, they helped to aid and abet criminality through Hip-Hop music, then one day the prison system would eventually go public and they would be able to buy shares.

Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons.

So disgusted with the meeting, Mr. Anonymous claims that he turned into a relative recluse for close to two decades and finally decided to speak out after surveying the devastation around him:

Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration.

While this explanation fits into a tidy box labeled “The Man Made Me Do It,” it also has shades of Willie Lynch sprinkled throughout. Yes, it makes sense, but weren’t black men marginalized and arrested at disproportionate rates before Hip-Hop took a turn for the ignorant? Doesn’t it stretch back to Reagan and Iran-Contran, his wife and “Just Say No”? Doesn’t it go back to public housing and rat mazes? And C-Lo’s Goodie Mob observation “I wonder if the gate was put up to keep crime out or to keep our ass in?”

More importantly, doesn’t it leave room for society to say that the black men unjustly imprisoned – who aren’t influenced by Hip-Hop – must deserve to be locked up for crimes they didn’t commit?

It is clear that the music industry exploits poverty and the stereotypical “Black Male” image, but aren’t they allowed to do so because of the complicity of other black men eager to cash in?

Weigh in Clutchettes: Does this letter ring true or is it just an urban myth?

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