By: Jay Ray / @jayrayisthename
“Redemption just means you just make a change in your life and you try to do right, versus what you were doing, which was wrong.” - Ice T
Nothing happening in music is new. We've heard that melody, we've drummed that drum, we've sung that song. These are some of the (many) reasons it was incredibly surprising to see Vice Magazine’s Noisey Atlanta documentaries go off the rails the way it did. Let’s be clear, I'm all for authenticity. I encourage all of the artists that I work with to be their authentic selves, because it makes the art that much better. At some point, though, you have to draw a line in sand. There’s authenticity, and then there’s business - and legality.
To put this in context - the Noisey Atlanta series opens, rather peculiarly, with (what is said to be) crack being cooked in a kitchen - specifically in one of those pots that I am sure you’ve cooked rice in. (That’s right, your rice pot … it’s also a crack cooking pot. Bon Appetit!) I can not confirm that this was actual crack cooking, since I have never cooked crack. I watched it in complete confusion that a) this was filmed; and b) this was posted online. Additionally, a direct line was being drawn from crack selling to Trap Music. Now, the connection between those two things is implicit. But drawing a line from one to the other, while authentic, was problematic from a business and legality standpoint.
Anyway … Migos arrives in Episode #2. Here’s a bullet point summary of this episode -
Migos was shooting a video at Magic City;
Migos invited the cameras to their brand new home (more on that in a moment);
Migos’ entourage, of some number more than 6, brandished guns from the moment the camera crew and conspicuously British documentary host arrived; and
Migos and entourage smoked lots of (what appeared to be) weed and did some freestyling.
There you have it. Most of this wasn’t surprising, but I was miffed at the grand display of guns, since Migos were filming in their house. To be clear, Migos’ new house is in a gated country club community in Stockbridge, GA. Was all of this smart to put on camera and potentially be released to the public?
Unfortunately, Members of Migos have since been arrested. They were charged with multiple counts of drug and gun possession, while performing on a college campus. In the wake of the documentary series, and now Migos’ arrest, many questions have been asked of Noisey. One of which - why these particularly negative images were captured and broadcast. It’s been reported that Migos has insinuated that the Noisey is somehow to blame for their arrest.
Twenty-one years ago, the oldest member of Migos was 3, and super-producer and megastar Dr. Dre went to prison. Dre had spent the prior 3 years on an artistic and personal tirade of sorts. Creatively, he spent time co-founding Death Row Records with Suge Knight, introducing the world to Snoop Dogg and stealing all of the attention away from the NYC boom-bap style of producing to g-funk. While doing all of that, he got shot, he also racked up a series of battery charges (the most famous being rapper/host’s Dee Barnes’ assault) and a drunk driving charge. It was the latter that sent him to prison. Following his stint in prison, Dre returned to music with a revived focus, producing Tupac’s ubiquitous and most successful single, “California Love,” and, in 1996, deciding to depart Death Row Records ... with nothing. He left it all behind. In his wake, Tupac was killed and Death Row crumbled under a shroud of violence. Dre found increasing success, however, with his Aftermath imprint, Eminem, Beats by Dre, etc. In 2000 he said in an interview for MTV - “with my my legal troubles, I look back on it like, what was I doing? … I was just young and stupid.”
The lesson that Migos missed, was taught or never learned was that Dre was able to emerge victorious, partly because he took a look inward at and his role in what was happening around him. An important lesson from a multi-millionare, indeed.
The story of Migos isn’t finished. Their official debut Y.R.N. - The Album, is set to drop on July 31, 2015. Fortunately, they have the gift of youth on their side. I hope that this misstep and a history lesson can save their careers and possibly even their lives.