I have a problem with homeless people being showcased as just that, "homeless" - as though it were strange or unusual for them to have musical talent. There have been a couple of videos doing the rounds lately where the subjects are undoubtedly talented, but the "homeless angle" has really made me think about whether I wanted to just stick them up on the blog - what would the title of the post be? "Look, isn't it amazing what these homeless people can do!"
Talent is a wonderful thing and should definitely be praised, but at the end of the day music is an industry like any other, and it is not always the most talented people who make it. Often it's the most well connected, the most tenacious, the most hard working, the most intelligent, the most PR savvy, the most marketable, and occasionally - it's the lucky. I'm sure these videos have been posted and titled in the spirit of the "lucky break" - maybe if the right person sees this they'll get a record contract!
They way I see it is the people in these videos do not have any experience of, or trusted contacts within the industry and as such are extremely vulnerable. It's unlikely they have a strong support network of people to give them advice and they could easily end up signing contracts that could compromise them at best - and exploit them, their situations and issues at worst. Snoop & Warren G didn't call on the guy in the first video despite acknowledging his talent, and I suppose the question you have to ask is - would I? If the answer is no, then is this video really in the spirit of the lucky break which probably won't come and I wouldn't give?
In the video below the rapper has obviously been through a lot and it's unlikely that this video will transform his life (but we can hope). It is interesting to hear his story, his talent, and what hip hop means to him, but that seems to be where it ends. A statistic brought in to our lives in technicolour for a few minutes, our voyeurism mixed with concern, we are passive and tacit in our acknowledgment of the fact that our fleeting support does this man no good. At the very least though, we could nod to his talent regardless of his story for a moment, and let that define him, instead of his lack of address...
True Hip-Hop Stories: Homeless Emcee from D-Nice on Vimeo.