By Hans Ebert
Van McCoy was a man ahead of his time. He saw the great Hustle of the 2000s coming long before anyone else did. He even recorded The Hustle.
For those of you into such things, hustling and The Hustle is what’s trending everywhere- at least “trending” as a means to an end and to get somewhere. Often, very often, The Hustle blind the easily star struck.
In music, or what is still labeled music, The Hustle is the new Art Of The Deal. It’s about connections and publicity, pumping hands, attending the opening of an envelope, collecting name cards and being part of the social media game.
Hear Lennon singing the line, “He’s a real nowhere man”? Like Van McCoy, Lennon saw what his present would become: A world where Nowhere People ran naked and free.
Once you’ve pretty much been to the top of the mountain or been taken for a ride all the way up there by the original Stingmeisters and look down these days at what’s happening, it’s kinda depressing- so many with no talent pretending to have talent and hustling this to has-beens, never-beens and wannabes with nothing going for them except for perhaps a blindingly bling name card.
Nothing ever happens other than weeks and months of lunches and meetings and Agreements that are never legally binding or else some vague non exclusive “association”.
These “connections”, which lead to self-promotion and the illusion of success- to themselves- are most transparent. And proof positive about the dumbing down of this world.
Recently, some who insist on calling me “bro” and “dude” messaged me about their new deals with this and that one in the U.S. One just had to say, “So”? And then, this news was quickly on social media. Does anyone care? It’s another brick in the wall of the Selfie People.
It took me back to the gullibility of many in Hong Kong- and the region. East-West collaborations came and went. All those meandering duets. All those business connections with the big boys in music and their very many plans to further the careers of young female singers in the region. Where did any of these lead?
Have any of these big names helped things move upstream? Only if it helped them. But so many of us in “little old Asia”, and often led by the big noting never-beens of Hong Kong, were, and still are, taken in by names and credits and, yes, a pocketful of mumbles that are sometimes promises.
Can the guy who programmed some beats for someone or another in the nineties going to take the career of some unknown not even known outside of Beijing higher than a Sly Stone song? Get real, bro. Things are not adding up. If claiming to be so successful in Mainland China, why the need for international acceptance? Who needs it? The other side does. Either that or nothing is what it’s painted out to be.
Remember Wyclef Jean in China and that awful “collaboration” with China Wine and the fallout from the monkey business behind it? There’ve been so many others tied to monkey business.
At least Wyclef Jean had some kinda relevance, especially when the opportunist in him gave him the disaster in Haiti in 2010 to be the man behind another of those sons of Live Aid and World Togetherness.
It was awful. Empty. And went nowhere. The world was sucker punched. The Wyclef Jean brand suffered. Badly. Charity too often starts and ends at home. Look at some of the “charity work” done in Hong Kong. Mainland China. Singapore. Malaysia. As for Wyclef Jean…
What do all these fake promises and pretences at do gooding do? Slow down the process. Mess your mind up with “What Ifs”.
It’s like attending any of those music conferences that used to happen regularly until people cottoned on that these gatherings were where nothing happened except for making money for the organisers.
Did any of these “save the music”? Look where we are, bro. Staring down an abyss known as streaming with no one knowing how to switch off the tap.
Being an Asian, and, sure, having been duped by many big names from overseas, there’s always the feeling that all this time and effort pandering to the rich and famous would be far better off looking at home base and what it has to offer and turning this on its head. Like creating Curry Rock or Dim Sum Rap. Does the world want an Asian version of Drake?
Recently, it seems like the groupie in us is “trending” again. The middle aged groupie in many, especially the entertainment industry. But this time around, it’s been star struck by fifth and sixth rate names that must be searched and then searched again to see what the hell has been their life’s work.
Always, it’s something completely irrelevant. And small. They’re somehow associated with someone who might have been a player or is the second cousin of Stevie Wonder’s bodyguard or something just as vague.
When at EMI, we signed up some black “dude” mainly for being related to Stevie Wonder and knowing Boyz11Men. Was he? We never checked. He talked the talk.
He ended up having a huge hit in the Philippines with a mawkish ballad that was flogged to death. At least we got something out of it.
As for what are nothing more than small time scams taking place today, for gawd sake, people, grow some gonads. Use the grey matter.
There’s a downturn in the economy out there. Head East, think those with nothing going for them in the West. Go where the money is. Engage in name dropping. Smile a lot. Wear bling. Show off lots of tatts. Play at being the Rap mogul. Jay Z? Sure you know him. He’s your bro.
If you’ve learned the hard way by going down the Boulevard of Broken Promises, you should know by now that you’re nobody’s Kunta Kinte.
You know how this region works. And those new to this region work to your rules. Before music can even begin, it’s about setting down business contracts and with lawyers very much on your side in tow.
It’s no longer about being blindsided by bullshit and virtual companies. It’s about being Django unchained. Bro.
#music #scammers #WyclefJean #Asianmusic #focus #bro