'Notice to Black Artists': Behind R&B's Struggle at Radio & The Letter That Has the Industry Buzzing

Robin Thicke

Anthony Mandler

Notice To Black Artists: Your Services Are No Longer Needed 1

Dear Black Artists,

We regret to inform you that the need for your services will soon come to an end as we enter a critical restructuring period. Fortunately, after having spent nearly a century meticulously studying your art, language, fashion, and lifestyle, we have learned enough to confidently move forward without your assistance. We thank you for your contributions but have decided to make some necessary changes as a result of your decreasing value. Focus groups show that consumers are looking for more relatable images. While 2013 marked the first time in Billboard’s 55 year history that there were no black artists on the Hot 100 chart,2 this was a great year for us with Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and Macklemore claiming the #1 spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, proving that market demands are shifting. Consequently, in the next few months, we will be gradually phasing out your positions as we finalize this reorganization. In the meantime, we ask you to continue with business as usual, training your replacements Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber until instructed otherwise.

Your severance package includes a lifetime supply of Air Jordans, unlimited access to reruns of "Love and Hip Hop", a new 30 piece Tom Ford wardrobe, and the latest iPhone. Your medical coverage will be provided through ObamaCare.

We want you to know that your termination is in no way a statement about the quality of your work with us. As such, we would like to acknowledge your outstanding contributions to the industry over the past decades.

In music, we’d like to thank Kendrick Lamar’s thought-provoking body of work which has opened the door for Macklemore, a shining example of what intelligent rap looks like.3

In business, Jay Z's partnership with Samsung was historical as the Korean mobile company paid the rapper a mere $5 million and his company Roc Nation, another $15 million, a bargain deal relative to their standard annual $4 billion marketing budget and $220 billion net worth.4

In fashion, while Kanye West may be experiencing difficulties launching his own brand, his loyalty to European designers continues to add value to an already thriving industry that other entertainers like Migos seem to enjoy promoting for free.5

In cinema, "The Butler" and "12 Years a Slave" were Oscar-worthy gems, showcasing the strength and pride of a resilient people. We understand that this year, you will continue this tradition of inspiring historical films with the May release of "Belle" and the History Channel's forthcoming reboot of the groundbreaking 70's televised series, "Roots". Your work did not go unnoticed as it has inspired us to produce new historical movies of our own, depicting our rich cultural heritage. Upcoming releases include:

* "Son of God" produced by reality TV pioneer Mark Burnett and starring Diogo Morgado
* "Noah" starring Russell Crowe
* "Exodus" starring Christian Bale as Moses
* "Mary, Mother of Christ" starring 16 year old Odeya Rush

Just as your movies depict the struggles and achievements of your best and brightest, these powerful films are meant to inspire and remind us of our glorious past and divine lineage.

In an attempt to capitalize on the recent trend in movies that focus on triumphs of the African-American experience, we have recently begun developing films with similar themes. Channing Tatum has just been cast as the lead in the Nat Turner Story while Scarlett Johansson is reported to have accepted the role of Harriet Tubman in a forthcoming biopic. Like Quentin Tarentino’s "Django Unchained", both movies promise to offer the perfect balance between shoot-em-up style action and social commentary while boasting two smash-hit soundtracks featuring Eminem, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha.

Again, none of this could have been accomplished without your unwavering commitment and dedication to our mission. We trust that your transition will be smooth and wish you continued success with your new journey into Electronic Dance.


1. This posting on RapRehab.com appeared Jan. 26 the day of the Grammys. The author Sebastien Elkouby is a former publicist for KRS-One who now works as a creative consultant, freelancer writer for RapRehab and an educator.

2. There's a chart wather's nuance here: t was the first year in the chart's history that no black artist topped the chart as a lead performer. However four songs featuring black artists did claim No. 1 last year: "Thrift Shop" (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz), "Can't Hold Us" (Macklemore & Lewis featuring Ray Dalton), "Blurred Lines" (Robin Thicke featuring T.I. adn Pharrell) and "The Monster" (Eminem featuring Rihanna).

3. After winning best new artist, best rap song, best rap performance and best rap album, Macklemore Instagrammed a screen grab of an apology text he sent Kendrick Lamar, who was nominiated for seven Grammys and won none. "You got robbed," it read in part. "I robbed you."

4. The value of Jay Z's deal with Samsung was actually $30 million. Samsung's global marketing budget is actually $14 billion, though its U.S. budget for 2013 was estimated to be $1 billion.

5. West has complained of his power struggles in the fashion industry, and recently left Nike for a deal with Adidas. Atlanta trio Migos released the single, "Versace," which repeats the designer's name more than 35 times in a row as a hook. The Versace store in Atlanta reportedly had a rise in sales after the song became a hit in September.