Thursday, October 13, 2005

He Has the Snow, Man

I'm not the biggest fan of hip-hop in the world, actually it irritates the crap at of me most of the time: especially the way certain stereotypes are perpetuated by selling the thug and drug cultural safari to little, suburban white boys whose only problem is hoping Wal-Mart or their parents won't notice the CD's content.

That said, I appreciate it as an artform that likes to explore the underside of American culture -- sex, drugs, and conspicuous consumption. One or all of which most people desire, even when they're too frightened or coy to admit it. Which brings me to this article by Kelefa Sanneh that explores the rise of gangsta rapper, Jeezy and his wry symbol of self-promotion: the Snowman. Unbeknownst to me, but Jeezy's black t-shirt embossed with a Snowman happens to be the shit within the hip-hop scene right now. And to the surprise of some of those moral T-shirt distributors...that snowman isn't all wet and friendly, but it is powdery. Let Sanneh explain:
The snowman's success is proof that Jeezy has a knack for self-promotion, but it's also an example of the way rappers use coded language to juggle multiple constituencies. A casual observer might see the snowman as just one more improbable hip-hop fashion trend. (Half a decade ago, hip-hop fans bedecked themselves in oversize shirts and sweaters emblazoned with characters from Looney Tunes or "Peanuts.") Some listeners might be willing to accept Jeezy's deadpan explanation that he calls himself the snowman because of all his ice, or diamonds.

But most of his fans have heard Jeezy offer a different explanation for his deceptively cute alter ego. In one of his first hits, he rapped, "Get it? Jeezy the Snowman/I'm iced out, plus I got that snow, man." Jeezy's rhymes are full of cocaine-dealer boasts, and on his CD itself, the snowman rests suggestively atop a pile of something white and powdery. If the gnomic power of the snowman itself isn't enough, some T-shirts come with a quotation that drives the point home: on the back, they say, "I got that snow ... man!"
Don't you enjoy it when old, uptight white men find out the product they're slinging isn't cute and cuddly, but drug-related and depraved? I'm sorry, but I do.

Entrepreneurial capitalism: It isn't about widgets anymore.

But just you remember...where there's a market, there's a way. Jeezy can attest to that with a "Yeyo!"