Media Stunt or Reckless Responsibility

Hip-Hop’s power couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce, have been creating a storm of controversy and conversation as of late.  Starting with Beyonce’s out-of-left-field song Bow Down Bitch, the Carter’s have been the talk of the town.  With the couple’s criticized and scrutinized trip to Cuba for their anniversary, one begins to wonder is this wanted attention or misguided career steps.

There was a time when the couple was never seen in public together and although there was speculation in abundance about their romance, they remained tight-lipped and reclusive.  Their private life was envied by the CIA and secret service because of its anonymity, but as time went on, the couple embraced the spotlight shining on their romance… albeit it in small, strategic doses.  Having fully embraced the media’s attention on their combined star power, they’ve completely removed the vail and let us all peek behind the curtain.

From the birth of Blue Ivy to the HBO special “Life Is But A Dream,” we have been given an up-close and intimate view of two of the most dynamic artists of our generation.  More importantly, we’ve been able to see them away from the stage, apart from the glitz and glamour, in a more tangible and relatable light.  Beyonce’s reign has skyrocketed since the inauguration, followed by Superbowl XLVII, and the announcement of her Mrs. Carter tour.  She is the girl on fire!  Husband Jay-Z isn’t slacking either.  With the Nets opening their inaugural season in Brooklyn, Jay-Z’s imprint can be found throughout The Barclays Center.  After reportedly selling his shares in the Nets, Jay has partnered with CAA to launch Roc Nation Sports Agency already signing the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano and the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz. Clearly these two aren’t slowing down and together their star power has been elevated to another atmosphere!

So why now the questionable choices?  Full disclosure: I am a hip-hop junkie and a fan of both artists.  I admire their hustle, tenacity, and the brands they have built.  That said and as cliche’ as it is, with great power comes great responsibility and lately, they deserve to be questioned as much as they have been applauded.  Beyonce escaped the scrutiny of the lip-sync fiasco, so why now the chopped and screwed Bow Down?  What was the point, if there was one at all.  Furthermore, it’s a complete 180 from her previous work, always championing girl power, independence, and confidence in one self.  She has never gone as far as to say, “I know when you were little girls you dreamt of being in my world/Don’t forget it, don’t forget it/Respect that, bow down bitches/I took some time to live my life, but don’t think I’m just his little wife/Don’t get it twisted , get it twisted/This my shit, bow down bitches.”

For the record, their trip to Cuba was proven to be legal and set up by Academic Arrangements Abroad.  The underline problem with the trip to Cuba stems directly from their relationship with the First Family and as unfair as that may be, there again comes the responsibility.  They represent more than Shawn Carter and Beyonce Knowles-Carter.  They have positioned themselves and have been recognized as ambassadors, liaisons, and representatives of communities much larger and spanning a greater demographic and circumference than Marcy or Houston.  They are the face of a generation and many live vicariously through them.  They chose this life and whether warranted or wanted, these are some of the challenges and obligations associated with the role.

At the end of the day, yes, the media blows things out of proportion and will exploit every opportunity and twist every angle for ratings, notoriety, and sales.  Knowing this, have the Carters turned the table and exploited the media, feeding them tidbits and leaving breadcrumbs to follow?  Beyonce has a world tour beginning in days and nothing like stoking the fire to garner free advertisement to booster ticket sales.  Jay-Z is capitalizing off the criticism as well, taking to the booth to record Open Letter addressing the criticism in only the way Jay-Z can.  “Hear the freedom in my speech/Got an onion from Universal, read it and weep/Could’ve bought the Nets to Brooklyn for free/Except I made millions off it, fuckin’ dweeb/I still own the building, I’m still keeping my seat/Y’all buy that bullshit, you’d better keep your receipt/Obama said chill, you gonna get me impeached/But you don’t need this shit anyway/Chill with me on the beach.”  Responding to critics and promoting his many ventures in one swoop, Jay-Z killed to birds with one song and used the media to disseminate it to the masses.

Here lies the crux:  Have the Carters cleverly saved millions of dollars in promotion and advertising, using mainstream to keep their names and brands in the forefront.  Or have they made poor judgments jeopardizing the good will they have achieved and possibly slamming some of those doors that took them years to pry open?  Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, they have us talking.  Take a listen to the songs below and formulate your own opinion.  Whatever you think, we’ll definitely hear from hip-hop’s power couple again.


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