Monday, March 16, 2009

Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer? Meet KRS-One and P.M. Dawn

I'm doing a dialogue with some hip hop journalists/bloggers and in search of a newspeg with which to pitch the whole package I stumbled on the notion of Jon Stewart pulling a P.M. Dawn on Jim Cramer as an amusing analogy.

So we know the Stewart vs. Cramer hubbub from last week, but do you know about when hip hop legend/scholar KRS threw P.M. Dawn off the stage. You can get a first-hand perspective/recap via unkut's interview with Kenny Parker.

The interesting comparison comes in because KRS compares to Stewart as a sort-of hip hop media watchdog. Obviously there's a whole bunch of different ethnocultural circumstances, but he was one of the few dudes that would call people out, by name, and try and hold them accountable. And in hip hop at the time if you did your calling out on wax, or during a radio show, that was the equivalent of doing it at 11PM on Comedy Central. More to the point: KRS fancied himself, like Stewart, a truth-teller for his people and times. And he saw his task as doing that in the most compelling, entertaining, but also *truthful* way possible.

In the other corner, P.M. Dawn is emblematic of a Cramer Mad Money mentality. A symbol of American values/dreaming gone wrong. Not inherently evil in and of itself -- after all, we all have to make a living and it's not Cramer or Prince Be's fault people buy into schtick -- but wrong for going overboard into manipulating people, presentation, perception for capital gain.

This doesn't all work dot-for-dot. Prince Be was a hippie artist, and Cramer stands accused of crimes much worse than being a chubby bohemian rapper. But still, I give Cramer the benefit of the doubt to think there's an art to his business; I don't think he was born on the dark side of the force, he was lured there by American greed like any of us in the right circumstances.

AnyCramer, as the story goes KRS was performing at the same club as P.M. Dawn one night and long story short he (or as the recap i linked earlier clarifies, it wasn't him but his crew) threw Prince Be off the stage and took over. For most hip hop "heads" it's a moment you remember as old school real vintage hip hop nostalgia. Hip hop was always about settling beef and calling people out and holding people accountability for being wack, shady, or whatever. And that's exactly what Stewart did to Cramer last week. A contemporary, civilized passive-aggressive/pansy-ass version of throwing a rival off the stage.

Which is to say, aside from how politically (and legally) improper it is, it would seem people really just wanted to see Stewart punch Cramer in the face.

In this post that I got abused over, it was this bullyish alpha-dominant behavior that struck me. Not the moralizing of the exchange (i.e. obviously Stewart's right, Cramer's wrong, that wasn't a question going in or leaving), but that Stewart was playing by hip hop rules while Cramer was playing fold your hands in class and don't look at the guy who's gonna beat you up after class in the eye. It's so aggressive, and primal, and Nietzschean, and awesome, and ultimately, as I see it, so hip hop. Or what hip hop should be. Or what media infused with more hip hop values should be. More public beef please.

image via: unkut


  1. Anonymous3/16/2009

    One difference is that KRS never showed the self-awareness Stewart shows when he goes on the attack. I know you think he was a bully, and maybe he is, but at least he does the self-deprecating thing well. Has KRS ever said anything less than him being a "god" or "hip hop"?

  2. Krystina3/16/2009

    But will we ever stop thinking about it.

    I don't know. I doubt it

  3. Anonymous3/17/2009

    Take a look at Jim Cramer's MSFT recommendations over a 2 year period. You can see that he flip-flopped quit a bit and likely lost viewers money.

  4. Hey,both had the guts to "properly bully" the ones that badly needed to be slapped in the face.

  5. Where has KRS been in the last decade? He's got 10 years worth of bad rappers to give the Prince Be treatment to. Start with Will-I-Am.

    Let's hope the watchdog Stewart stays on top and doesn't get marginalized the way the watchdog Blastmaster KRS has.

  6. The question is whether there is any way Cramer could have pulled a Roxanne Shante and done the financial-analyst-on-late-night-show equivalent of telling KRS-One that his crew would be known as Broke-Down Punks.


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