Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cash Rules Everything Around Wu

Cash Rules Everything Around Wu is the name of a paper presented at this year’s EMP Conference by Tal Rosenberg and Jeff Weiss. Read it here. Fascinating stuff.

"... The Wu-Tang warned us that if it ain’t raw, it’s worthless. Most record executives originally disagreed—at least the ones who made power moves. They wanted suit and tie raps that were cleaner than a bar of soap. So said the Gza, and who am I to argue with a man whose own album cover claimed that he was a Genius?

Looking back 20 years later, the Clan’s rise seems pre-ordained, a divine alchemy of ability, acumen, and Ol’ Dirty Bastardry. But when they first emerged from the badlands of Brooklyn and Staten Island, they’d already suffered multiple failures. Less remembered are the RZA and GZA’s initial salvos, commercial flops that recast them as sub-Big Daddy Kane ladies men. In two years, they’d be admonishing you to protect your neck, but first they wanted you to come do them..."

Plus, from the comments in that story, which point to another article on the Wu-Tang approach to business, from the NY Times, back in 1996. 'Brash hiphop entrepreneurs.'

"... His [RZA's] introduction to business, he says, came from selling marijuana on street corners. ''You could sell weed and make a little money,'' he said, ''but most of it gets made for the guy you're selling it for. It's the same thing in the music business, except it's legal.''

That lesson was driven home after early recording contracts that he and Genius had went sour around 1990. RZA felt that he and Genius had been naive about the record industry, allowing themselves to be marketed poorly and shortchanged financially; vowing never to make that mistake again, he read up on corporations and decided to apply his street savvy to any future deals..."

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