***The views and opinions expressed in the following editorial are those expressly of the writer of this piece and do not necessarily reflect those of HipHopDX.***

Blunts, boats, bitches, and big talk have been common themes throughout Hip Hop history—increasingly so over the past two decades, for better or for worse. But another phenomenon that’s taken the spotlight lately, with few taking notice, is an ever-present, malevolent fixture in the Hip Hop community: the yes-man.

Call him what you want. Crony, lackey, minion, or the ever-popular “weed carrier,” the yes-man has been at work in spectacular fashion as of late. Almost exclusively less-talented and financially dependent on a star of greater caliber, yes-men have played a prominent role in Hip Hop. Many of the lesser artists on Death Row (not to mention Suge Knight) gassed Tupac Shakur, enabling the label’s flagship artist’s (and their supposed friend) intense pursuit of an incredibly pointless beef.

Kendrick Lamar said it best to 2DopeBoyz in November 2011, indicating a wisdom rarely seen in today’s Hip Hop stars: “The best thing is to always keep honest people around, because when you have a bunch of yes men around that know that you’re making a mistake but let you go on with it, that’s when it ruins your mind state as an artist,” said K. Dot. “It’s easy to forget who you are.”

The suggestion here isn’t that artists like Kendrick are inherently better than any of the other artists listed in this piece. In fact, take the music out of the equation, because this is about perspective—and the young rapper appears to have it in spades. Kendrick’s short but sweet excerpt hits the nail on the head: the key is to keep honest people around you. However, as the following examples show, it’s not just an artist’s state of mind that’s at stake—it’s the artist’s life.

Power Circle: Maybach Music Group & Rick Ross’ Enablers

Few will ever forget Rick Ross’ embarrassing exposure as a former correctional officer, despite being one of Hip Hop’s toughest talking personalities. It seems Ross has gotten his wish, however, as the Bawse has ostensibly willed negativity into his existence. After receiving gang threats from Gangster Disciples in December of last year for his use of the Star of David on his mixtape, The Black Bar Mitzvah, Ross was forced to cancel shows with his Maybach Music Group Cohorts in North Carolina, and eventually the entire rest of the tour. Predictably, Ross claimed that the tour cancelation had absolutely nothing to do with gang threats, and offered up some tough talk:

“I’m a certified man,” Ross told Felisha Monet of Miami’s WEDR 99 “Jamz” FM. “I’m a boss. Everybody need to understand, gangsters move in silence. In situations like that, I remember something that an old school Dade County gangster told me a long time ago: any dude can stand in the crowd with 30, 40 dudes. Everybody real, trill, everybody bout that life, everybody gangster. But when them choppers come out, everybody fold.”

Tough talk did Ross little good, as only a month after canceling the rest of his concer series, Rick Ross narrowly escaped a drive-by which included over a dozen rounds fired at Ross’ Rolls Royce Phantom.

Media Blame And Self Destructive Behavior

Enter Hip Hop Yes-Man Exhibit number one: Wale. An MMG signee, and therefore financially dependent on Ross, Wale took to radio angrily on his boss’ behalf little over one week after Ross narrowly escaped with his life. Rather than suggest that maybe his boss should pump the brakes on the thug shit, Wale placed the entirety of the blame on the very nebulous “media.”

“I think everything, the whole thing, has been blown up,” Wale told Rashan Ali of W233BF “Streetz” 94.5 FM, in what I suspect was a move ensuring that Ross would keep his pockets laced, lest the D.C. native step out of line. “I think the media is perpetuating a lot of things. God forbid, if something happens to anybody, they’re gonna be playing people’s records all day.”


It doesn’t take much to point out every hole in Wale’s very leaky argument. Instead of displaying a modicum of intellectual honesty, Wale decides to place the onus entirely on the media, rather than on the man who signs his checks, Ricky Rozay. Wale took the matter even further, incredulously asking, “It’s a joke to y’all because y’all see him on TV everyday, but what if that was your friend? That’s my friend. I was talking to him last night about the football game. So, what y’all think is a joke is somebody’s health. I know his children. God forbid something happens. And I just lost one of my brothers, so I don’t even play around with that stuff. I don’t play.”

Indeed, Wale, what about the fact that Ross is supposedly your friend? In what way are you helping by suggesting that the media is perpetuating something rather than Ross, who essentially egged on his would-be assassins? It’s of course ridiculous to excuse anyone who tries to take a human life and place blame on the victim. Still, Rick Ross has gotten into the habit of placing himself in very real danger while living in his fantasy world. Maybe Ross realizes this himself, as it was recently revealed that he was packing some serious heat in case shit got real. Still, Rick Ross likes to play the role of a fearless head honcho, weaving in and out of the criminal underworld, just in time to release an album or mixtape. Sadly, canceled tours look to be the least of Rick Ross’ worries if he continues to go down this boneheaded route, and has none of those honest people around him that Kendrick Lamar mentioned earlier.

Speaking of which, should Ross even be performing on stage? What with his recent seizures and all, that couldn’t possibly be medically advisable, could it? It’s another issue that puts into question the type of folks Rozay keeps around, and brings us to our next Hip Hop yes-men victim: Lil Wayne.

Seize Him: Lil Wayne And YMCMB’s Curious Case Of Denial

You’d have to be hiding under a rock that was under an even bigger rock to miss last week’s Lil Wayne saga. After suffering multiple seizures, Lil Wayne was reportedly in critical condition, and even being prepared for his last rites.

Would it surprise you to hear that this isn’t the first time Lil Wayne has suffered a seizure? In October, the wildly popular rapper suffered seizure-like symptoms (read: a seizure) while on a private jet, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing and having Weezy end up in the hospital.

Luckily, Wayne had Yes-Man Exhibits number two and number three to consult in both instances: Birdman—label boss, disturbing father figure, and, apparently, a physician, and Mack Maine—other label boss, and singer, I guess. Despite reports from TMZ that Wayne had reacted poorly from a codeine overdose, and that a suspicious tweet from Lil Wayne saying, “I’m good” actually originated from an IP address Wayne had never used before, Birdman had this one covered. He blamed Lil Wayne’s latest health scare not on codeine, but on “dedication.” Thank goodness Birdman was privy to Wayne’s medical records and urine analyses, or we all might have had something to worry about. And that fake tweet? Well, Mack Maine confirmed that he couldn’t explain it. That is, until he denied ever saying such a thing. Even T.I. chimed in, joining Mack Maine in taking TMZ to task over its reporting. Interestingly, a week later, Tip announced what is sure to be a very lucrative tour with Wayne.

So let’s add this up: First, TMZ, a website known for sleazy tactics and superficial subject matter, but universally respected for its accuracy and fact checking, reports things that the entire YMCMB camp denies. Second, Mack Maine is incapable of keeping his story straight. Third, what appears to be an imposter says Lil Wayne is alright on Twitter just moments after the YMCMB camp issues its denials. Last (and least), world-renowned seizure expert Birdman suggests his “son” is alright, despite the fact that Wayne has suffered his fourth seizure (that we know of) in the past six months?

Sure, Wayne admitted this week that he’s epileptic, but if everything he said regarding the incident is true—that his heart rate went down to a stunning 30%, that he has repeated seizures, and that working too hard can make him go into a seizure—then that underscores the point here even further. Wayne is in very real danger, and the people around him enable him.

Perhaps this wouldn’t look so horrendously awful if just last week Tone Loc didn’t suffer his sixth(!) reported collapse since 2009, this one caused by an apparent seizure. And a common thread in that horrendous turn of events? October 2011: mid-concert collapse, blamed by Loc’s manager on “exhaustion.” June 2012: mid-concert collapse blamed on “heat exhaustion,” again by Loc’s manager. August 2012: what was reported as a seizure at a charity event was called “food poisoning” by Loc’s manager.

Interestingly, when Tone Loc had an opportunity to speak for himself, he admitted having a seizure in December 2010 while driving. Much like the YMCMB crew, Tone Loc’s camp has enabled his behavior. Instead of publicly challenging these artists’ decision to continually tour, or perhaps questioning their lifestyles, or even pointing to the cautionary tale of artists like Nate Dogg, who died far too soon, these cowardly cronies continue to ensure that the cash cow keeps flowing—by any means necessary.

Yes, Yes, Y’all: A Cure For Rap’s Celebrity Acolytes

When the Wu-Tang Clan rapped, “Cash rules everything around me,” the Staten Island collective wasn’t lying. Every single one of the yes-men listed above has a financial stake in their corresponding artist, and every single one of their arguments fails the smell test. We may never know exactly what happened when someone bucked shots at Rozay, or when Lil Wayne had those “dedication-induced” seizures. But you’ve seen this story play out a thousand times, as have I. You’ve seen videos of Death Row weed carriers grinning like idiots standing behind ’Pac. You’ve seen Wu-Tang B-teamers without talent stick around and leach money for two decades from their more famous counterparts. Whether it’s an aura of invincibility or some other grand persona these artists want to put on, their crews can’t appease and enable them quickly enough. Follow the dollar—it only makes sense.

Ultimately, there’s little that any of us on the outside can do about the yes-man epidemic. And yes, man, it’s an epidemic. Unless artists like Lil Wayne and Rick Ross heed the wise words of Kendrick Lamar, they’re doomed to being surrounded yes-men, the most contemptible of all Hip Hop clichés. A cocktail of yes-men gunshots and life-threatening illnesses is a terrifying thing to consider, and may just lead to dire consequences once more.

***The views and opinions expressed in the following editorial are those expressly of the writer of this piece and do not necessarily reflect those of HipHopDX.***