“You Don’t Hire a Rapper to be Your Agent”: The Stereotyping of Sports Stars & Hip Hop Entrepreneurs

by David Samuels

This column appears in the June 9 – 16 edition of the Hartford News…

Community Party Radio on So-Metro Radio

Commentary on urban issues from a grassroots perspective. First, third and fifth Tuesday of each month. 8:00 PM Eastern Time 7:00 PM Central 5:00 PM Pacific. Tune in! Replays on the Tuesdays that we’re not on live and every Wednesday, same time. Next show: June 21. Co-host: Mary Sanders. Guests: Josh Elliott, a Bernie Sanders supporter who is running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Independent Hartford rap artist Protigee. (both rescheduled from May 31). http://sometroradio.com/ Check out our No Sellout blog for info on the rest of our Community Party Media lineup, including False Choice: the Bipartisan Attack on the Working Class, the Poor and Communities of Color. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/community-party-media-3/

Community Party Radio Podcasts

Visit No Sellout to listen to podcasts of past shows. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/podcast-community-party-radio-on-so-metro-radio/

Community Party Radio May 31 Show

Get Global Network podcast. Mary Sanders and I talk about the City of Hartford spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a baseball stadium, instead of paying for renovations at Martin Luther King School. Last week parents and activists protested against the city’s plan to close MLK, and dump the students in the basement of the Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. We also discuss the Huffington Post burying a story by freelance contributor Frank Huguenard, about the FBI pushing for racketeering charges against Hillary Clinton. The show features music by Independent Hartford rap artist Protigee.


Safe Work Environment Act Update

Connecticut Valley Hospital employees have been complaining to me about CVH Human Resources blowing off their Family Medical Leave Act applications. More info in the coming weeks.

Josh Elliott, Candidate for State Representative

Check out CP’s No Sellout blog Election 2016 Candidate Tracker for a profile provided by Josh Elliott, a Bernie Sanders supporter who is running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly. Includes info on making a donation to his campaign. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/election-2016-candidate-tracker-josh-elliott/

Muhammad Ali

Monday some viewers/listeners of the ESPN Mike and Mike morning talk show called Muhammad Ali a coward for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. This is typical vainglorious arrogance by certain white people: they expected Ali to be obedient, and risk his life for a country where segregation and lynchings was the reality for Blacks. These whites would wet their pants if they were threatened with a five year jail sentence; Ali was willing to go to prison as a conscientous objector.

Hip Hop, Sports Media & Racism

I recently watched ESPN’s ‘30 for 30’ documentary on former National Football League running back Ricky Williams. Williams is a two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy winner who played a total of 11 seasons in the NFL and the Canadian Football League before retiring in 2011. Williams is a highly intelligent free spirit who was the subject of controversy due to his first retirement after just five seasons and subsequent suspensions for violating the NFL’s drug policy.

What I thought was going to be an opportunity to zone out in front of the TV turned into the subject of this column: specifically corporate media stereotypes of the Black male. Williams hired No Limit Sports to negotiate his contract with the New Orleans Saints, who drafted him 5th overall in the 1999 NFL draft.

No Limit Sports was owned by Percy “Master P” Miller, a rapper from New Orleans who took a $10,000 inheritance that he used to start a record store and subsequently founded No Limit Records, one of the most successful rap labels in the history of Hip-Hop. Miller’s net worth has been estimated to be as much as $661 million, due to his superior business acumen.

Miller expanded into numerous business ventures following the success of his rap label. His Wikipedia page includes a laundry list of enterprises,

“(Master P) has invested money into starting a jewelry line, auto accessories, stocks, a real estate company, a gas station, started a No Limit clothing line, a phone-sex company and a sports management firm that represents several NBA basketball draft picks, a travel agency, a Foot Locker retail outlet, film, music, and television production, toy making, telecommunications, book & magazine publishing, car rims and fast food franchises. No Limit Communications, a joint venture with marketing guru, Djuan Edgerton, was a surprising success. No Limit Enterprises quickly became a financial powerhouse. According to Black Enterprise magazine No Limit Enterprises grossed $110 million in revenue in 1998 alone. Miller also has his own line of beverages, called ‘Make ‘Em Say Ughh!’ energy drinks. Miller has also made a foray into mass media, where he founded Better Black Television, a cable television network in November 2010 based in New Orleans, making him the first hip hop entrepreneur to establish a cable television network.”

Like anybody in the high stakes world of business, Miller had some duds: No Limit Sports was one of them. A fair and balanced article by Vice Sports summed up the reason for the demise of the sports management agency. A company that was successful in music and films applied that business model to sports management and failed. Football writer Jason Cole, who was interviewed for the Williams documentary, gave viewers a totally distorted picture of the relationship between Williams and No Limit Sports. The contract negotiated by the agency was regarded as a disaster. Other than an $8 million signing bonus, only the NFL minimum of $175,000 was guaranteed, with the rest of the deal based on incentives. Williams would have to achieve certain performance goals (rushing yards, touchdowns, etc.) in order to make additional money, an unheard of agreement. A player who was drafted as highly as Williams was expected to be guaranteed a salary worth millions of dollars before playing their first game.

Cole ignored the facts of the story and said, “You don’t hire a rapper to be your agent.” The quote was accompanied by a clip of Williams and Miller sitting together at a press conference, accompanied by a sound bite of Miller chalking up the criticism of Williams’ choice of representation to racism.

A casual viewer was left with the impression that Miller himself negotiated Williams’ contract, and that rappers lacked the intelligence to handle business deals. I confronted Cole on Twitter about his remark. Cole backpedaled and said that he was only talking about Miller. I reminded him of his exact quote. His response was, “So what?” Cole claimed not to recognize the racist implications of his comment. Miller’s track record as an entrepreneur clearly shows that he has forgotten more about business than Cole will ever know. I pointed out to Cole the success of Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s Roc Nation Sports, which partnered with a group of experienced sports agents. Roc Nation negotiated a 10-year, $240 million contract for former New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who signed with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent prior to the 2014 season. Cano’s contract is one of the richest in sports history. National Basketball Association superstar Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is another Roc Nation client. Carter clearly learned from Miller’s mistakes, as he has seasoned professionals representing his clients.

Did No Limit Sports drop the ball in their representation of Williams? Absolutely. Up to that point however, the agency had actually been successful, managing a small roster of National Basketball Association players who they had signed prior to acquiring Williams. Williams maintains that he specifically requested the terms of his contract. Williams subsequently fired No Limit Sports and signed with agent Leigh Steinberg, who renegotiated Williams’ contract after he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2002. Miller selected an inexperienced individual who was in over his head when he negotiated the contract for Williams, No Limit Sports’ first star who they wished to make their flagship client. Cole took one of the few missteps in Miller’s business career and stereotyped rappers as being too ignorant to succeed in the corporate world. Shameful.

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and world news headlines. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Check out my Facebook page for daily news commentary. https://www.facebook.com/david.samuels.948 Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm and So-Metro Radio the first, third and fifth Tuesday of each month at 8:00 PM for commentary on urban issues http://www.sometroradio.com/ Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s archive for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/). Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

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