“I tell a lot of people that I did a lot of pimping and ho’ing to get this film done,” says producer, writer and Director E. Raymond Brown, co-director of the film Ghetto Physics based on the book of the same name. The film explores concepts of power and hegemony in the context of the pimp and ho relationship. “At the core I was studying the Jungian archetypes and mythology, finding the universal patterns showing up in everybody’s mythology and folklore.”
With hip-hop embracing the pimp archetype it was the perfect conduit for discussing power. So figures like KRS-One, Ice T and Too Short appear in the film alongside Dr. Cornel West , Norman Lear and John Perkins appear in this documentary style flick in the hope of “bringing truth to power.”
“From Hip Hop it is always about your savvy in the game,” says Brown. “That’s why the pimp archetype is so popular in hip-hop, because its’ about how much intelligence and savvy you have. No one had put the conversation in that context, now we’re talking about literal street prostitution [and it’s relation] to power.”
In this interview with TheUrbandaily.com we asked E. Raymond Brown to discuss three recent power plays in entertainment—Nick Cannon Vs. Eminem, Kanye West vs Taylor Swift and Jay-Z vs the world and how it relates to the discussion of hegemony in his film.
TUD: Kanye West has made “Power” a focus not just in his music but also in his personal redemption campaign in the media. What are your thoughts on his debacle with Taylor Swift and how he has managed his power in the wake of it?
E. Raymond Brown: The magician archetype is at the core of the media. We’re getting mass consciousness with the use of illusion. I feel like it’s the most powerful domain to have a hegemony in cause you are not going to need a few hundred people, you’re going to need a few hundred million people at a time. For powers looking to shape public view or opinion it is crucial for them to see hegemeony in these areas as they go out. That is how I feel about the media itself. You always have intense power dynamics that exist at the core when they tell these objectives stories. I can tell you put the lens on from one perspective in the room so it is still somewhat angular no matter what. No matter how objective you claim to be. Who are the people within the media that supervise the producers, the managers, the editors, the owners. Who are they beholding to? Those are all shadow dynamics. That determines how stories are being put out all the time. These dynamics are so intense and that Kanye did something ho’ish. He was on top of the game but he went up there snatched the microphone from a ”damsel” a darling of mainstream culture. The dynamics come out in the history of America. That was a no-no and it spiraled his career. He is trying to wheel off of this to cleverly come back and restore “pimp.” He dropped down to the lowest of the hoe scale where everybody is just picking on him.
TUD: Do you think he will succeed in getting reclaiming his “pimp” hand so to speak?
The public doesn’t have a long enough attention span to hold on to that. They are not going to forget about his skills. His loyal fans will still be at his concerts and he might win some others. It was a brilliant move on his part to admit it. When you make a mistake that’s what you do to recover and be genuine. He found his way back in, he is definitely not totally eliminated.
TUD: On the flipside, there’s an ongoing dispute between Mariah Carey and Eminem. Nick Cannon has jumped into the fray, being her husband. He challenged Eminem to a boxing match for charity in an attempt to end it. What are your thoughts on it?
I’ve been aware of it. He doesn’t claim to be a hard thuggish warrior. He is a little more squeaky clean. He’s been dealing with someone from [the Aftermath camp]. Dr. Dre is the biggest pimp in the game and so is 50 Cent. Their backgrounds are the total expression of the archetype. Eminem came in the game through the pimp-whore structure. He is a fierce white kid that had to establish himself in a game that is dominated by afrocentiric figures. He doesn’t start a feud with a 50 Cent-type figure, that would be problematic. He starts feuds with Mariah. C’mon. He can take on Mariah. And you have Nick who has this pristine image, cleaner image. He even had a song about pimp bones in his body early on but he’s gone in another direction in his career. He has a cleaner image. It is problematic for him to feud with Eminem who is more of a ruthless villain archetype. Eminem is out in the media cracking and stabbing at his wife. From a man’s perspective he has to surface. He didn’t say meet me over her in the alley, he has it in a controlled environment. That is pretty skillful if Eminem can’t box. I wonder how Eminem is going to respond. I don’t think he’ll go in the ring with him.
TUD: What are your thoughts on Jay-Z’s power? Warren Buffet says he is going to be a billionaire by 2015. He and his wife are in the Guinness Book. Some have gone as far to say that he is part of the illuminati; it has gotten to a point where people feel like he is cahoots with the devil.
This conversation is right along the lines of what the film is dealing with. The reality of it is every that American is inundated with clandestine orders. They have been involved in the construction of the United States from the beginning. At the same time, there are certain aspects of it that are symbolical, heading towards a diabolical end. A lot of it has to do with power at various levels of government. These fraternal organizations, Masonic organizations, a lot of it has to do with how power goes at that level. People clandestinely don’t have you knowing all their business when they confer with one another. Once you get to that level or power you’ll be involved in that. They are not having those conversations with us about investing in a multi-million dollar [business]. Jay-Z is having those conversations now. Call him what you want but he came from nothing in the projects. He had raw creative, innate, intelligence and his archetypal stature has grown in mythical proportions. He is now able to sit down with the President of the United States. One of his biggest songs was “Big Pimpin.” He is telling you I’m that archetype, but not just the consummate gangster putting out product in the streets, he is now in philanthropic endeavors. In terms of the pimp archetype, he is expanding so well that all I can do is be in awe about it. No one is going to stop. No pimp is going to say “let’s let the ho’s catch up this year.” Jay-Z has got to expand his game on another level, then another level, because that is the way he is woven together. He has got that much pimp in him. That’s how much it shows up inter-dimensionally and it is fascinating because of where he came from to where he is, that has no precedent. So what if he’s in the New Order. You’re not going to stop their pimpin. Step up your own game.
For more info on the book and the movie go to Ghettophysics.com