Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tupac Against Being A Role Model

Had he lived, Tupac Shakur would have turned 40 years old on Thursday (June 16). The sometimes enigmatic, always fiery rapper would have been a grizzled veteran looking back with nostalgia at the exploits that made him the model of hip-hop machismo and passion. But in an interview with MTV News in 1992, the late rapper expressed eloquently why he wanted no part of the "role model" title he was destined to be tagged with.

"I say I don't want to be a role model in the song, because if I let somebody put the role-model label on me, that limits me," Tupac explained, referring to his song "Ghetto Gospel." "Because look at those words, 'role' and 'model.' Both of those are fake words, to play a role and to model, that's fake. I'm real. Being real, I drink, I hang out, I party — I do things that a 21-year-old does. And even worse, because I didn't have a childhood, I'm reliving my childhood. I live life to its fullest, I make mistakes, but I do some stuff that some college kids wouldn't do, because I live from my heart. I have fun. I don't want to be a role model, I just want to be real."

If Tupac was anything, it was real. He openly admitted his flaws in interviews and his rhymes, and was known for being fiercely loyal, almost to a fault. The "California Love" rapper never wanted his success to prevent him from being relatable to his friends in the "outer city." ("It's the outer city because we're always left out," he said.)

Never forgetting where he came from was a theme heard throughout 'Pac's music and was a trait inherent in people he saw as heroes. " 'Role model,' that's the word that they make. In the outer city, we don't have it," Tupac said. "We had [Mike] Tyson, Tyson was the perfect outer-city hero because he was always on the edge, they always wanted to make him a different type of person. But he would never be that, he would always be on the edge, and they hated him for that. They punished him because he never legitimized himself. He hung in clubs. He was the only person I knew that had millions that hung around with rappers. The only black person I know that made it to that millionaire status and then treated rappers with dignity."

'Pac continued, "Every entertainment person who has money looks at rappers as ignorant people with mics, holding our jocks, wearing Kangols and big gold chains. Mike Tyson was the only person I can remember being a millionaire and a real brother. And he was my hero, and I want to be like that. And I want more people like that."

Tragically and ironically, Tupac would be shot multiple times on September 7, 1996, after attending the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Although one of hip-hop's most recognizable stars would succumb to his injuries about a week later, his legend has only risen since his sudden death nearly 15 years ago.

Share your memories of Tupac in the comments below.

On Tupac's 40th Birthday Killer Comes Forward

On the eve of what would have been Tupac Shakur's 40th birthday, an imprisoned man has admitted to shooting the late rapper/actor during a robbery at Manhattan's Quad Studios in November 1994. What's even more startling is that the alleged triggerman, Dexter Isaac, is claiming in a letter that was obtained by that 'Pac's former associate, Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond, paid him $2,500 to do the deed.

While this may be a revelation to some, 'Pac's former protégé and Outlawz member E.D.I. Mean told MTV News that he was well aware.

"It's not news for us, because this is information that we been had and that we been knew about. And we always knew that it'll come out one day, because what's done in the dark always comes to light," he said before pointing to Shakur's music as proof. "I just feel like it's verification for what 'Pac said, because a lot of people felt when 'Pac was saying what he was saying on Makaveli that he was out of line for saying that."

The specific lyric E.D. is referencing is from "Against All Odds," a fiery track that appeared on Tupac's The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theoryalbum (commonly referred to as the Makaveli album). On the song, the now-deceased MC implies that Henchman set him up in 1994 as he raps:

"And did I mention promise to pay back Jimmy Henchman in due time/ I know you bitch n---as is listenin', the world is mine/ Set me up, wet me up, n---as stuck me up/ Heard the guns bust, but you tricks never shut me up."

Ultimately, E.D.I. Mean believes that Isaac's confession will eventually help the authorities solve the 1996 murder of Shakur as well as the 1997 shooting death of the Notorious B.I.G. — two crimes that many feel are related. "This will go on for a little bit longer, and I really feel like it's a domino effect," he said. "This will really lead up to their actual murderers. Both Big and 'Pac and everybody can move on, and this will be like some closure for not only the families, but the whole hip-hop community, because it's been an open wound since 1996 and 1997."

In a 2008 interview with MTV News, Rosemond denied any involvement in the 1994 shooting and dismissed the song as a shock tactic that rappers often use. "Absolutely never [had I] even know about it, never heard about it — before, afterward — had nothing to do with it," Rosemond added about the ambush. "Nobody that I know [was] associated with [the attack], and this is why I have confidently, in the last 14 years, told people that they can dig up whatever they want to dig up. And I've been very firm in what I've said to people: that I've had nothing to do with it."

Isaac, who is currently serving life in prison for murder, robbery, fraud and witness-intimidation charges, tells a different story. "I want to apologize to his family [Tupac Shakur] and for the mistake I did for that sucker [Jimmy Henchman]," Isaac told from prison. "I am trying to clean it up to give [Tupac's and Biggie's] mothers some closure."

Rosemond himself is facing legal trouble. On May 17, news broke that federal authorities issued an arrest warrant for Henchman in connection with a drug case. Henchman, who runs Czar Entertainment, a company that manages the career of the Game and other rap artists, fired back in a letter, lashing out at the "slanderous media" coverage he has received about the case. He also went on to call out Isaac's credibility. "If the government is relying on informants like Winston 'Winnie' Harris, a convicted drug dealer and Jamaican deportee, who came to me and motioned via hand signal that he was forced to wear a wire and begged me to skip town, or Dexter Isaac, who is serving life in prison plus 30 years, then I'm sure I will not be offered a fair trial."

Take a look back at what Tupac told MTV News about the idea of being a "role model," and celebrate his birthday on the Rapfix blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Social Media Rules of Engagement

Social Media, Social Marketing and The New Rules of Engagement

Social Media Marketing is does not work the same as advertisements and marketing in the old days. It used to be you would set up a clever advertisement and try and get it in front of as many of the projected demographic as you could. The Rule was to have it seen by hundreds of thousands if not Millions to get a small percentage of them to become buyers. After all, a small percentage of a huge number is still a decent sized number. If you placed your message in front of One Million people you could expect a Hundred-Thousand of them to become customers so long as your ad was provocative, thought provoking and drove them to your product.

Fast forward to the turn of the century and you see many of us now bombarded every single day with too much ADVERTISEMENT-Clutter. We are hit with Ads on the radio, On TV, On The Internet, On Social Networking sites, now even in the movies you see commercials that were once only on our televisions. The rate of return has diminished because our tolerance level for ignoring the media has been heightened due to overexposure.

The Fail Whale is not the only thing that fails on Twitter so do over 75% of the so called marketing experts, they just don't get it. Twitter is about engaging in conversations, and NOT YELLING YOUR PRODUCT OFF THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS EVERY TIME YOU TWEET!

Today's Social Media Are About Engagement:

Social Media, sites like Twitter, Face Book, MySpace and Beebo as well as social bookmarking sites like Digg and provide us all with ways to connect with other people, share our thoughts, our likes, grievances and favorite sites with other like users that may have similar interests. Social media sites are powerful tools of engagement and yet many use it simply as another form of advertising. Many marketers and advertisers just don't get the true power of social media.

It is not as important that you have more "Followers" on Twitter or more "Friends" on any given social media site, what is important is how often and how engaging your interactions are with them. Do you offer console, advise or better their lives in any way so that they remember you? Or do you simply try and stuff your products and services down their throat all the time without giving anything of value to the "Relationship" Being a real friend online is about forming real relationships, it's a give and take.

Online, word of mouth is all about value, great customer service and great products, but people also have to like you to "Spread the Word" and that takes real engagement.

New Rules of Engagement:

Don't Dictate to the World, Engage With it - meaning, get involved with people don't just post your advertisements or links to your blog, give them information they can use, advise, have a two way conversation and find out what makes them happy.

Re-Tweet More Than just compliments about you - If you find someone posts something that is helpful to you or you think maybe helpful to others re-tweet it. Don't just Re-Tweet things when they mention you. You'll get more followers if you are someone that posts interesting things versus only things about you, your company and your products.

Response Time is Critical - Don't just start a conversation and then not be a part of it! Social media is about interaction and engagement, make sure you are there to talk about the subject you brought up. Comment back when people comment your thoughts. It doesn't have to be all the time, but it is better for you to spend 15 minutes every few days verses be on one social media site for several hours One day and then be absent the rest of the month. This way if you someone asks something of you you can respond with a few hours or a few days verses a month or two.

Be Wary of What You Put Out And What You Allow Yourself to grasp - Remember that while it may feel like an intimate conversation, what you are saying is being broadcast to the entire world or at the very least your entire circle of friends. It takes thousands of tweets to create a reputation and only one to completely ruin it. Remember to be polite courteous and above all ignore the trolls, those that are distasteful, arrogant and out to make you mad just to see if they can. Just ignore them and they will move on to others.

Remember Every Post is An Extension of You, Your Website and Your Brand - posts like "Your breasts look juicier than the watermelon I just ate" will not reflect well on your company's image. And it just comes off as creepy anyway. Be respectful and you will command that same respect back at you. Compliment people on their successes, accomplishments and achievements instead of only shouting about your own and they will most likely do the same for you when you do shout out about yourself.

Top of Mind Means You Have To Be Consistent - You have to Tweet consistently, comment consistently, update your status consistently with engaging interactive thoughts and useful articles, videos etc. The average shelf life for a tweet or a status update is very short, but don;t let that fool you into thinking it isn't powerful. You simply have to stay involved. Make it a habit. In the old days it was about having your AD play over and over now it's being active online that plays a huge role in top of mind and brand awareness. Get into the habit of being present on Facebook, Twitter or whatever social site you choose and people will get into the habit of reading what you write.

Tweet Quality / Status Update Quality - The Quality of what you post is just as important than the frequency of your posts. Tips, advice and useful articles are always good, and helping people with helpful answers to their questions is always the fastest way to connect with someone online.

Repost And Re-Tweet Helpful or Humerous Content - You don't have to always rack your brains trying to be witty or helpful yourself when people are already posting similar items every day. Read and re-post or Re-Tweet what you feel may help your friends or what has already helped you

If Possible Use a Face Picture - A picture can familiarize other people with who they are talking to. Then when you see them at a real event it's as if you really are old friends.

Automation and Engagement Are the Exact  Opposites - Nothing says I'm not really talking to you I'm just marketing, like an automated post. What's the point of asking a provocative question if you aren't really going to be involved in the discussion? Check back often enough to comment and respond to others when they comment and answer your questions and you will create much greater involvement and really learn to engage people online. This way they will be more receptive when you do mention your services or your product as they will view you more a s a friend than just an advertiser.

- Trent W. The Great Hip Hop Blog