Astroturfing: How Drake, Wiz Khalifa and Barack Obama Are More Similar Than You Might Think

Everything aint rosy

Before you can understand how two of U.S. most popular new rappers and Barack Obama are cut from the same cloth I want you to get familiar with a certain term. That term is Astroturfing. As taken from the world’s most accurate encyclopedia:

 

Astroturfing is a form of advocacy often in support of a political or corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often, the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research. Beneficiaries are not “grass root” campaigners but distant organizations that orchestrate such campaigns.

Keep this in mind throughout this article.

Let’s start with Drake. Personal feelings about the “Degrassi” alum aside, Drake has had an unprecedented rise to the top of the rap game. Drake’s first mixtape, “Room For Improvement” (indeed) was released in ’06. It didn’t make much noise and was panned. Fast forward three years and a couple other shitty mixtapes later and you have what Billboard Magazine described at the time as “one of the biggest bidding wars ever”.

The story goes that somehow Screech from the Canadian Saved By the Bell got Trey Songz to feature on a song called Replacement Girl, which was then debuted on BET in 2007. Upon hearing said shitty mixtape, the mixtape king, Young Weezy the F stands for Phenomenal Baby (no really), was so impressed that he invited Drake out to tour with him.

This is ‘08 and at this point there is still supposedly no deal between Drake and Young Money. Fast forward to spring ’09 and Drake drops the ubiquitous Best I Ever Had single and Every Girl, which featured 4 Young Money members. Billboard would have you believe that this is what sparked the ‘World War 3 of bidding wars’ but being the contrarian that I am, lets just say that I’m a little skeptical of chronological order of that retelling of events.

Drake ends up breaking all types of records for radio spins. He re-releases his mixtape ‘So Far Gone’ as a for-retail EP, and it goes on to sell over 500,000 copies. I am going to repeat that for you. He repackaged and sold a FREE mixtape that had less songs on it than the original freeer version and went on to go Gold! In 2009! In an era where 90% of established artists don’t see Gold plaques on their full length studio albums! If you were to believe what his fans told you, he did it off the strength of hard work and keeping his name out there and releasing dope music and, then…. Pow… your performing at the Grammy’s and you don’t even have an album out yet.

Then there is Wiz Khalifa. I wont go in depth into his story for time reasons but suffice to say that while most people think that Wiz’ upcoming “Rolling Papers” album will be his debut, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Wiz has been signed since 2006. Ill go ahead and repeat that, 2006. This will in fact be his THIRD studio album, and the bama has already reinvented himself fromt this! To this:

Why do most fans think that Wiz is new to the scene? Well it might have something to do with XXL putting him on the cover of their “Freshman 10” list in 2010. Ive heard of 5th and 6th year seniors, but if you’re a third year freshman then school probably aint for you.

What does this have to do with Barack Obama you might ask? Well think about it in terms of astroturfing. People forget this, but one of Obama’s first introductions to the national consciousness was at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Chosen to speak supposedly because he was a great orator, Obama gave a rousing message at the DNC that year. The story goes that this catapulted him from freshman Senator to President of the United States.

Im not going to get into all the crazy things about his past that are either unanswered or just seem plain fishy, but I will say that the rabbit hole is extremely deep. We know that astroturfing works in music. We know it works in movies (see Snakes on a Plane, I mean don’t actually see that movie as it will be a waste of your time, but see as in reference). We know that the media, whether it’s Billboard Magazine, XXL, CNN, or Fox News is implicit in astroturfing. What does this tell us about our Knight in shining armor and media darling in chief?

Obama, if nothing else, was all about hype during the campaign. That’s why we were in the streets after he won (Ill be the first to admit the mufucka had me fooled). For once the hype felt real.  But with a new understanding of how our pop culture works and what astroturfing is and how it influences the masses, what can we say that we REALLY know about who he is and what his agenda may be. Free your mind.

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4 Responses to “Astroturfing: How Drake, Wiz Khalifa and Barack Obama Are More Similar Than You Might Think”

  1. Billy Says:

    I can see where you are trying to go with this but you have no solid evidence that any of these three are artificial or that they are succeeding at fooling the public that they are something that they are not.
    You try to make yourself sound like you are aware of the grand scheme but fail to ever mention the grand scheme in this blog. Yes Obama wanted to become President and yes the 2 rappers wanted to become successful rappers, but what is the actual claim that you are making that shows where they are fooling the masses. You say that Wiz Khalifa had other studio albums, is that the extent of the “astroturfing” that is going on?
    This article doesn’t go into detail on any “astrosurfing.” Sounds more like an abbreviated history of the rise of these 3 men.
    The only thing I do agree with is that is seems that you really are a “contrarian”, you make assumptions that go against what you view the masses are mislead to believe, as if it were knowledge.
    Horrible Blog

    • youngwonder Says:

      Thanks for the read. I disagree with you on two points, first that this is a horrible blog, I thought it was pretty good. Secondly the idea that there is no evidence. Circumstantial evidence is evidence nonetheless. Do I have a smoking gun? No, but the fact that XXL tried to push Wiz Khalifa as a freshman artist when he is 3 albums deep doesnt sound like astroturfing to you? Billboard claiming that Drake is in a bidding war when he was probably signed to Cashmoney Records in ’08 doesnt sound like astroturfing to you? And finally Barack Hussein Obama, supposedly of Hawaii, former community organizer, somehow ascends to the Senate and in 4 Short years is your President after having celebrities and media members suck his dick all throughout the campaign. If these arent examples of astroturfing I really dont have any then. The common thread in all of these and all astroturfing is the media’s role in it. Just because your too blind to see the evidence doesnt mean that there isnt any out there. Again thanks for the read

      • Billy Says:

        So every marketing strategy and ploy that the media jumps on and creates positive buzz for the product is now “astroturfing”?

        The lack of evidence comes from the fact that you assume that the media is in cahoots with these men and/or their handlers and is acting as “an independent public reaction.”

        What makes these examples unique from 3 very well designed marketing campaigns?

  2. youngwonder Says:

    So every marketing strategy and ploy that the media jumps on and creates positive buzz for the product is now “astroturfing”?-

    Yes! Lol again I will post the definition

    “Astroturfing is a form of advocacy often in support of a political or corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.”

    The difference between “very well designed marketing campaing” and astroturfing is the illusion that astroturfing creates that there is no marketing campaign. They make you think its organic as a way to sell you the same shit in a new package. If you cant see the danger in that my friend then you are I really cant help you

    In other words they try to get you to think that Barack Obama is the peoples champ, when really he might as well be a blue blood politician, Bill Clinton/George Bush style. That is where the deception lies. They got you to believe that Wiz Khalifa, Drake and Barack Obama were all amateurs. People trust amateurs/outsiders. Turns out theyre not, jokes on us…

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