Every now and then, something so odd, so stunning, comes into my email inbox that I have to pass it along, even though it lacks that kind of direct corroboration that one wants when a stunning claim is made. That's the case with this article, or rather, letter, that was spotted by Ms. D.W. and shared with me. It concerns rap music. Most regular readers here know that I'm not a fab. I find its unrelenting iambic pentameter, its oftentimes gutter "lyrics", the baseness and coarseness of the "values" it promotes up to and including violent assault and murder, the constant thumping of a drum beat, to be mind-numbing and irritating. I can't listen to more than a few seconds of it.
The mind-numbing aspect of it I have always thought to be deliberate.
And if this letter is to be believed, then that thought was confirmed:
It's almost too much to believe, but the author or authoress of the letter leaves no doubt what (allegedly) happened:
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn't the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. 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. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn't dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.
The implications of the allegations are clear: There was a clear social engineering program to (1) infiltrate a popular trend, to co-opt it, and to redirect its focus into advocacy of criminal behavior in order (2) to fill up private prisons and turn profits for the shareholders, and, (3) as a "side benefit", to exploit the criminalizing trend to create a stereotype of minorities and economic classes and further culturally divide the country. The private prisons soon filled, mostly with young kids, at first predominantly African-American, then reaching out to grab other young people who were exposed to the "music", whites, Hispanics, and so on. We all know how peer pressure works, especially in high school, where to be "cool" and "accepted" means you listen to the latest "cool" music group. The social engineers could count on this to spread the contagion.
To the letter-writer's list of the aims and effects of this "program" one might add a fourth possible long-term goal: to so barbarize music that those who exposed themselves constantly to it were "dumbed down" and cut off from other more genuine musical forms with a history and tradition: jazz, rock, country, and (here it comes) "classical."
The question is, does one believe the letter?
I do, and here's why: in my last book Microcosm and Medium I pointed out how the "deep state" made a deliberate post-war effort to penetrate and manipulate the world of the arts and music, and to drive them deliberately into modernist forms; "traditionalists need not apply." It happened everywhere, and the goal was to promote a kind of antinomian freedom from all previous tradition, rules, canon, custom, and mores in order to demonstrate that the West - as opposed to the Soviet bloc - was genuinely free. In other words, decadence and antinomianism were drafted; the west was "free" because it could flout all traditional artistic boundaries. In the process of researching that book, I ran across David McGowan's Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, a book that exposes the stunning manipulation of the rock groups associated with Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 1970s. Every one had clear ties to the "military-industrial complex", and no group's art went anywhere near politics or cultural critique. It looked to me then - as I wrote my own book - and looks to me now, as if this was the "popular prong" of the same effort to manipulate art and music and to socially engineer the culture by means of it. By any measure, those early efforts were successful.
This letter, taken in that context, is showing the same pattern; it is contextually-historically corroborated, if nothing else. And it also says something else: those early "social engineering experiments" at the deliberate manipulation and promotion of certain types of art were so successful, that they were able to fine tune it for specific goals.
So, yes, I believe this meeting took place, and that the deliberate effort was made. Art, and music, are potent forms of mind manipulation and social engineering, and this letter is a reminder that art can both reflect, and create, a state of the soul. With enough exposure to ugliness, the soul becomes ugly. Ms. S.T. commented on my book Microcosm and Medium that "emptiness is the host to entrainment."
That is as aptly and succinctly put as can be, and I couldn't agree more.
See you on the flip side...