Over the past few weeks to the present day, Michael Steele’s comments regarding his intent to lead a GOP ‘hip hop’ outreach campaign have been blogged, editorialized, and criticized. I would be lying if I said that I was not a bit taken aback by his use of phrases such as: “off-the-hook”, “word to yo motha”, and “How ya’ like me now?” to name a few. However seeing as this is a nonpartisan blog and organization I will not be joining in on the Michael Steele bashing, laughing, or criticism train. I would instead like to offer a few helpful tips I believe may help Mr. Steele achieve his goal of reaching the ‘hip hop’ community. I suggest the following:
1. Before announcing any new or radical GOP undertakings or excursions into uncharted outreach territory think about having an internal meeting. I say this because although the personal intent behind Mr. Steele’s desire to reach out to the urban and hip hop communities may be genuine the sincerity of this desire has disintegrated (along with the GOP ‘hip hop’ urban community welcome mat). This suggestion is a product of the many negative responses from GOP party members. Everyday a new sarcastic and/or facetious remark emanates loudly from various GOP members. This alone does nothing except completely contradict Mr. Steele’s message that the GOP has a desire to reach out to ‘urban communities’!
2. Before making any sales pitch (because believe it or not trying to get the hip hop community to buy into the ideal that the GOP will not call the police if anyone of us shows up at a convention, and more unbelievably the GOP is pursuing us equals a sales pitch) the most important thing every salesman must do is research, research, and more research of your perspective client! The hip hop industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is run the way any multi-billion dollar corporation/industry is run. From what I have seen of Michael Steele I can confidently say I do not believe he would attempt to win Steve Jobs business/support by saying, ” Yo we’re gonna put together an off-the-hook pr campaign for your company! Word to ya motha!” Do you??? No offense but this was insulting to say the least!
The powerful leaders/internationally known artists of the hip hop community are some of the world’s most business savvy executives. With that being said, Mr. Steele showed the hip hop community that he has no knowledge of the culture. IMO his statements also shows he has done very little research before making this announcement or he is unsure of how to convey it to his fellow GOP members while simultaneously communicating to the hip hop community (I might add the majority of hip hop community understands plain English just fine without the assistance of a translator, or the use of any outdated and misplaced slang terminology). Therefore, for research purposes I would suggest Mr. Steele check out the following important and powerful hip hop works; so that he may gain a better understanding of the hip hop community and culture:
1. T.I.: Trap Muzik, Urban Legend, and Paper Trail (especially ‘just doin’ my job’ and ‘Prayin’ for help’ )
2. Jay-z: Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprints
3. Tupac: Me Against the World and Strictly 4 my N$$$$$
4. Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die
5. Nas: Illmatic and Stillmatic
I would also recommend Mr. Steele study the business model of the hip hop industry;from the artists themselves, the clothing lines, and every other product targeted to the hip hop community.
Lastly, I would like to end this post by saying the most important advice I can give to Mr. Steele to assist him in his hip hop outreach campaign is to be real! It is okay that he is not from ‘the hood’ or ‘the projects’. The hip hop community identifies with people who exhibit common sense and an understanding of the desires of the members who make up the community. You never heard Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, or any other revered person in the hip hop and urban communities say, “word to yo motha!” This is especially important in the midst of a recession. During these difficult economic times people, no matter what culture or community, want someone who communicates empathy and a vision for the future eloquently.
I also ask that Mr. Steele remember the hip hop community’s demographic span are similar to the demographic span of the GOP. Meaning, every member of the hip hop community is not from nor resides in ‘the hood’. The same as every member of the GOP is not wealthy or the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation.
I hope Mr. Steele finds this advice helpful on his hip hop outreach journey.