As a young and talented tennis player, Francis Tiafoe is ripe for the picking. He’s 16, talented, strong and black – a prime choice for those little fingered motherfuckers down on Wall Street. Once their money sensors go off and they become thirsty enough to snatch a kid up it’s only a matter of time before they pluck him off of his current path, and set him on the fast track to money and fame. But what nobody ever tells young kids like Tiafoe is that this fast track surpasses a lot of important milestones, milestones that will ensure that young person’s longevity in success, milestones that would have bettered that child’s life in the long run. And that’s what Wall Street wants for the black community, that’s what Wall Street wants for our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. They don’t want a future for us.
Do you know who else wants that for the black community? Your favorite rapper and media mogul, Jay-z. In between smacking Beyonce’s ass on stage and rapping about Tom Ford Jigga Man prays on young talent and quietly drags them into the depths of get-rich-quick superstardom by promising them unfathomable amounts of cash, fame and “hot bitches” in return for their souls. Case in point: Jay-z has already sunk his teeth into Tiafoe by recently making his plea to sign the 16-year old tennis phenom as the first tennis star for his agency – Roc Nation Sports. It didn’t hurt that the major rap star invited Tiafoe to see him and his wife perform back in July with an exclusive meet-and-greet session after the show, which I’m sure was occupied by speeches about Hov & Tiafoe’s common background and a good old fashioned ego rubdown by Beyonce and her back-up dancers. Honestly, is Roc Nation Sports even a real firm or are they scouts fronting for a much larger firm run by Wall Street? Hmm.
You’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound too bad. Who wouldn’t want to kick it around Jay and Bey, right? But after all of the flash and excitement is gone, what’s left for young kids like Tiafoe? He signs a contract that signs his life away to Roc Nation Sports and becomes a pawn, used to perform at Jay-z’s disposal. Does he get money? Sure, but how much of that money goes on to help him develop as a young adult? Does he continue to get educated properly? And most importantly, what happens when a fresh new tennis star starts to make waves and Roc Nation Sports moves onto the next one? Tiafoe’s future gets fucked, that’s what happens.
Your boy Jigga is nothing more than a puppet used to carry out the demands made by those little fingered motherfuckers on Wall Street and kids like Tiafoe are nothing but dollar signs to them. And Jay’s not the only one (I’m looking at YOU Russell Simmons, Puff Daddy or P.Diddy or whatever, Reverend Al Sharpton and the lot of you). We’ve become so accustomed to looking at these big stars as heroes that we are failing to see that they’re putting the future of our children at serious risk. In fact, Jay-z is nothing but the mask of perfume that covers up the shit heap that is Wall Street. He’s not a business powerhouse, he’s not a marketing genius, he’s not a major player in the sports industry, he’s merely an entertainer who’s been fooling all of you into thinking that he’s some sort of messiah. He’s that same guy who you grew up with in the hood, he’s Day-Day, Ray-Ray and Junebug, only now he’s got a few extra dollars and all of you think you’ve got to kiss his god damn rings. Wake the fuck up.
As Tiafoe is determining who to sign with, it makes me wonder if his parents have done the due diligence in their investigation of the people who Tiafoe could potentially be doing “business” with. Have they reached out to the black community to speak to lawyers, marketing moguls or accountants? If my son or daughter were about to sign a law-binding contract with their own blood, you better believe that I’d be the first person to slap that pen out of their hand. This country is so obsessed with getting rich quick that we forget the benefits of taking your time and bringing in money slowly for the benefit of our future. And it’s not just the sports industry that does this to our kids.
Lupe Fiasco, Trinidad James, Azealia Banks – these are three music up-and-comers who never reached their full potential because they signed contracts at a young age that left them older, penniless and psychologically broken. Shit, look at what LaFace did to TLC back in 1996. Those girls were the most popular group in the world at the time and their record label sucked them dry. Wall Street is constantly grabbing up members of our community, squeezing all of the talent out of them for a quick buck and then throwing them back into our community. We’ve got to end this cycle.
When is the black community going to get up off of their knees, take matters into their owns hands, and fucking step up to the plate? We can’t keep continuing to let these people come into our community and control our children and our products. Sports is OUR industry, it’s OUR product. Look at all of the major players in almost every single sport and tell me what color their skin is. We have a voice and we need to start using it. We’re sitting around and we’re waiting for our knights in lily white armor to come and help us off of the ground – and guess what? It ain’t happening. We have got to stop thinking that their ice-water is colder than ours. If the black community could get their shit together we wouldn’t be ecstatic when someone like Jay-z swoops in and tries to “save” one or two of us because we wouldn’t need saving. My brothers, my sisters -get your heads out of your asses. Look at Arthur Ash, Zina Garrison and Althea Gibson – they all had help from the black community, they all had the loving support and up-lifting that they needed in order to be powerful on their own. They didn’t need those little fingered mother fuckers.
We can stand up to Wall Street by showing them that we value our education, we value our families, we value our products and services, we love and care about our children and we’re willing to bring our limited resources together in order to show that to them.
As defenders of the Hip Hop lifestyle, OOGEEWOOGEE isn’t afraid to step up and say that we are one-hundred percent dedicated to helping our global hip-hop community in any way possible, and I dare anybody to step up and challenge that.
This isn’t to say that Tiafoe didn’t have the proper support system surrounding him as he grew up. His parents and his tennis coach, Misha Kouznetsov, absolutely care about him and want what’s best for him, but we, as the black community, need to help THEM. We can’t let these little fingered motherfuckers snatch up our young people, take them out of school, and throw them in with the pros. People like them don’t want to do what’s best for Tiafone, they want to do what’s best for their pockets.
I always hear people saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” – well then, let’s come together as a community and show these children that we have their back. Let’s stand behind Francis Tiafoe and tell him, “You don’t need Jay-z, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Russell Simmons, P.Diddy or any of these frauds to support you, because we got you”. And let’s actually mean it. Let’s show Tiafoe and his parents that we’re interested in his present and we’re interested in his future and it won’t cost him a dime for our support, all that would be asked of him is that he remembers who helped him succeed and to be conscious of giving back to that same community, giving back his heart, mind and experience – that’s all.
Written by Tom Stafford
Illustration by Michael White