The Last Tycoon

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Damn. Dame Dash seems to have taken something of a fall. I won't revel in another man's misery. But the split between me and hip-hop has its orgins in Big Pimpin amd the Benjamins. Unlike most heads I wasn't bothered by the unvarnished lust for material things and money--I was bothered by the utter lack of respect for money. This is an old story stretching back to Frankie Lymon (Larenz Tate murdered that role, btw) and extending up though gold ropes and "make money, make money money money." But it's almost like when you don't come up around money, but live in a society that worships it, it lessens the chance that you'll understand it. What would I have done at 20 if someone had dropped a half-mil in my lap, and had no one around to really counsel me?

I remember when every rapper in the world was getting cameos from Donald Trump. It rubbed me the wrong way then, but years later, once I read up on Trump, I remember thinking, "This is who these guys idolize? This is their notion of wealth?" Anyway, it ain't a black thing, a hip-hop thing, or even poor people thing. Coming up around money doesn't mean rich kids don't burn their way through it. I think it's just a people thing.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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