Cannibal capitalism: Chief Keef and rehab

I’m interested in the idea that folks would become famous because they harmed themselves or allowed someone else to harm them on camera.  I’ve been calling it cannibal capitalism – as a means of describing this wide scope on popular media.    Cannibal in the sense that viewers consume of the body of another human being who is on camera taking years off of their life

Chief Keef is in rehab for ganja and let’s loose with some great insights about how unpleasant it is.

Nestled inside a nondescript beach house, one of hip-hop’s most controversial rising stars is holed up in court-ordered rehab, and he’s feeling frustrated and alone.

“It’s like being locked up,” Chief Keef, 18, tells Billboard, in his first interview since he entered rehab. “And when I’m locked up, I don’t want anybody to come see me. I won’t let my family come here. I haven’t seen my 2-year-old daughter.”

via Chief Keef Talks Rehab, ‘Bang 3’ Album & Learning How to Surf | Billboard.

Cannibal Capitalism is best thought of as a pattern of mediated communication about morality.  Along with viewing people getting hurt and enjoying it (Jackass, NFL, Ultimate Fighting) we also get the moral commentary from the narrators and participants about that suffering.

Part of the narration of morality that comes with hip hop and cannibal capitalism is a kind of racism+classism+paternalism.  When the articles were popping about Odd Future, the dominant story was just how naughty they were and emphasizing the difficulties they got into.  Very little conversation about music, and heavy emphasis on the disciplining of (usually) young black men.

The quote from the Billboard article is the opening passage.  Do you think it invites a kind of moral judgement?  Do you wonder what this rapper did to get this punishment?  Is it framed in a way to encourage you to read it as an omniscient person who hasn’t had this kind of difficulty, shaking your head in faux-sympathy?

There is no doubt that Chief Keef is at the core of a major moral panic.  One part of the division is the fascinating language used to divide people up.  Richard Sherman and the significance of the representation of thug:

I wonder if the exciting pleasure of the music and imagery of Chief Keef experiencing suffering, particularly mapping up to the discipline and punish strategy of suffering/redemption (recycled) is part of the appeal?

Public consumption of rap stars and their back stories usually includes a kind of nefarious sharing of information.  I went over to my buddies house and we listened to music and also to a 5 minute rant from KRS-ONE threatening some dude over a van robbery.

Hip hop fans are usually fiends for gossip, and interested in the music, culture, language and well, anything of our favorite musicians.

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Filed under capitalism, communication, hip hop, media, prisons, punishment, race, representation

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