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Hip Hop…Chicken???

June 8, 2009

hip hop chicken

by Brother to the Night

Most of you know how I feel about Hip Hop. My definition of Hip Hop is the culture of musical art form that is self-reflected by music, art, history, dance, poetry, and science that gains its influence from other culture across the world. Pretty deep, right? No, not what I typed, but what it entails. Self-reflection. Gains of influence. Across the world. That’s a beautiful thing.

HOWEVER, let us not leave out how Hip Hop is exploited. Hip Hop is labeled in an exploitive manner. Hip Hop music (basically anything on a 25 and under radio station), movies like “How She Move” and “Step Up” (what are you kidding me? Neither of these movies has a Black or Latino main characters), or anything and everything BET.
Unfortunately, the Hip Hop rooster came home to roost a couple of years ago with the opening of one “Hip Hop Chicken & Fish” in Randallstown, MD (a Baltimore suburb). That’s right; wait, marinate, and allow me to repeat. Exhale. Ready?
“Hip Hop….Chicken… & Fish”. How very unprecedented.
Our story started about 2 years ago when my cousin’s wife Tracy (names have been changed to protect the futile) came in with huge, heavenly aromatic, white plastic bags and laid them on the counter.
Me: Damn that smells good! What’s that, chicken?

Tracy: Mmm hmmm. I got it from a place on Liberty.

Me: Oh yeah? Where?

Tracy: I tasted it before at a get-together at work and it was sooooooooo good. Ummm…you should try some.

Me: *reaching for a napkin and plate* Sure! Thanks. So you keeping secrets?

Tracy: What?

Me: Are you keeping secrets?

Tracy: What do you mean?

Me: Why won’t you tell me where you got the chicken from?

Tracy: I did. I said a place on Liberty.

Me: Ok, I got that. And the place is called…..?

Tracy: What?

Me: What?

Tracy: Huh?

Me: Huh What? Here’s what…..what the f$%#% is you talking about???

Tracy: Alright, alright! I got it from **whispering** Ghip Rot Hitdin.

Me: Gip Rot Hittin’? What? **Laughing**

Tracy: **sigh** Hip Hop Chicken.

Me: Excuse me?

Tracy: Hip Hop Chicken, Brother.

Me: Hip Hop Chicken. Hip Hop….Chicken. You’re joking, right?

Tracy: **sigh** No. But the chicken is really really good. Aren’t you gonna try a piece?

Me: **blanched**

Tracy:

Me: **Blanched**

Tracy:

Me: Oh HELL NO!! **a 10 minute tirade on the exploitation of people of color and our culture of Hip Hop**

So there you have it. The birth of Hip Hop Chicken, and the slow steady death of Hip Hop culture. Here’s the part that hurts your feelings for real for real…..it’s owned by Salvadorians. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s obvious by the lack or ignorance of Hip Hop artwork or photography and the subsequent language barrier that these kats are disingenuous. Hip Hop Chicken is bad enough, but no Public Enemy posters? No Jay-Z? Can I at least get some Lil’ Wayne? No? Oh wait, 92.Q is always playing in the background. No? That don’t count? Damn!

It gets worse.  Note the DANCING chicken and fish. Wow. Can ya do that? Can you really REALLY do that?

Exploitive business establishments should be ashamed of themselves for the utter disrespect and exploitive nature of their very existence. Some of these people wonder why their businesses are the targets of crime and vandalism. Here is why geniuses; you directly associate your business brand in a matter that is exploitative to a group of group of people who you are attempting to market to on the most inconceivably ignorant premises imaginable. The common thug is going to associate this (subconsciously) with “who should I rob, the Macy’s down the streets, a store that I don’t seem to belong as far as items, or the Hip Hop Chicken who basically is saying ‘we know how you n#%#s LOVE chicken, and we know how you n#%#s LOVE Hip Hop, so let’s put them together and we all can eat chicken and do the Hip Hop dance. Just look at the billboard! See?’ “

In conclusion, the exploitative nature of American business continues over the disenfranchised and will not end until we as Americans hit them where it hurts; in the pocket. From now on, I want all those who read this to begin and continue to halt all support of establishments such as these. Now pardon me **licking fingers**, I’m done with multi-tasking. Time to finish up this chic….I mean food.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 11:31 am

    😆

    A great read!

    Unsure of just how serious you are about the exploitation angle, but it seems to me like you’re picking out specific bits that lend themselves to your idea that they’re being exploitative. Your statement about how they must have thought ‘black people like chicken’… well, firstly, it’s ‘Hip Hop Fish and Chicken’, right? And what, you’d rather all restaurants were called something elusive and obscure just to avoid the possibility of coming across as ‘exploitative’ by naming the kind of food they sell?

    Secondly, you’re assuming their use of ‘Hip Hop’ in the title is negative. Maybe they thought about the electricity and dynamism of the genre and thought that it worked well with making fish and chicken sound enticing. They’re trying to sell their food… it’s called marketing, not exploitation. Though I have to admit that there is only a very thin line between those two terms anyway, one does exist.

    But yeah, fun stuff all the same 🙂

  2. June 8, 2009 11:50 am

    Alex,

    thanks for the comment. It is well appreciated truly. Now, if I may, go hip hop on YOU for a moment:

    Naw, man! They tryna sell product at the expense of hip hop. They might not know what what hip hop truly is, but they DAMN sure know how to exploit that ish!!!

    Ehhh HMMM! Thank you for you visiting the Sable Verity. Please come in the near future as I plan to have a follow up to Hip Hop Chicken’s empire.

    **sigh**

  3. August 16, 2009 5:09 am

    The fish is good the chicken is not so good. They dont have any mac and cheese at this place.
    Everything is Fried – The Rev says stay away from Fried if you dont want to die.

  4. Lady C permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:12 pm

    First time on this site. Found it while trying to find out about this Hip Hop Chicken place I keep hearing about and lo and behold..your article came up and i’m still laughing. Love it love it and I love all the articles…Now taking the time to read more and please keep it coming. This is some good writing here. I love the “in your face” approach to writing. I certainly dont have to try and figure out what you are trying to say. I know from beginning to end. Great article and though I agree everyone is entitled to market how they choose, and in this economy, everyone is going with what works and gets people in the door. On days I dont feel like cooking, I love to patronize anyone with good food so off I go today to “multi-task” without the lickin’ of the fingers hopefully..enjoy!!

  5. Greg permalink
    September 18, 2009 1:15 pm

    THANK YOU for this observation. I noticed this myself..It is clearly shown and put in the face of the black/minority community how subtle the exploitation is of something the “owners” have no clue about…they are all about making money at the expense of others, we have to stop this….This would not be tolerated in metropolitan areas or outside the city where you would find healthier food establishments

  6. September 22, 2009 2:12 am

    Hip hop will always be around. That’s what matters. Then it’s up to each of us to listen only that which makes sense.

  7. October 25, 2009 4:01 am

    ok first of all i appreciate those of you who come and patronize our establishment second of all if we didnt “know” anything about hip hop how cud we carry on conversations with our customers about current events in the “hip hop” community and the fact that your saying were out to make money at ur expense ?????? isnt that the whole purpose of opening a business???? the reason we named the store “hip hop” is because we started our chain in Tallahassee FL. its a state with universities in ever corner so in order to attract the younger crowd we had to think of something that would attract them so we figured that everybody loves hip hop so we cam to the conclusion that we should name the restaurant hip hop and were not Salvadorian fyi were palestinian and we do respect ur oppinion and your article on us trust me we apprectiate the advertisement but instead of just putting out hate websites why dont u come in and have a word with us well talk it over on some lunch or something we have 3 locations all together in baltimore 1 on 8119 liberty rd. 2 on 5223 baltimore national pike and 3 on 3300 reisterstown rd. come by and check us out and if u wanna go into sayings ill tell u 1 dnt judge a book by its cover thank you…..

    hip hop management

  8. masih permalink
    October 25, 2009 2:40 pm

    you are talking about ignorance! maybe you should visit hip hop and check out the environment. your ignorance about hip hop fish and chicken is at a level uncalled for. in your article you mentioned it was owned by el salvadorians, its not! some of the people running it have lived in baltimore for all of their lives. hip hop fish and chicken originated in florida and it expanded in chicago, there are other stores in florida and wisconsin. so please dont say that they came to a black area to exploit hip hop and the african american people. you deleted an earlier comment but i hope u keep this one so others can get a different perspective on hip hop fish and chicken. thank you

  9. hip hop permalink
    October 25, 2009 3:04 pm

    id like to say something im a employee at hip hop fish and chicken and im born and raised in catonsville baltimore. this has to be the nicest establishment i ever worked at unlike mc donalds and other places, we care about our customers, we keep them happy, and its a business every one opens a business to make money if not in that case ther would not be anyone in this world to own a business

    we cook fresh food we have good service and we are normal people just tryin to make a liveing like everyone else in this world

    thats all i have to say

  10. October 27, 2009 8:22 am

    OK, it looks like the point of the story is turning into something that it really shouldn’t be.

    First of all, I would like to thank the management of Hip Hop Chicken for responding. Your response is informative and sensible. Second, the piece has absolutely nothing to do with race or the disapproval of any race. So let me address that first and foremost; it does not matter what race the ownership of Hip Hop Chicken is. Exploitation is exploitation, be it subtle or otherwise. People within their own race have exploited themselves for generations. So let’s just leave the Salvadorean/Palestinian issue out of this debate. It was mentioned in the article because 1.) most of the employees there on the day of my visit were Latino 2.) I stated Salvadorean in the article based on the actual Spanish accent. 3.) Humor. Latinos working at a place called “Hip Hop Chicken”. That’s humor in of itself. So let’s bury any race issue about the piece. It has no relevance to the issue.

    The article is about exploitation and the hypocrisy that is both intertwined in ourselves and capitalism. If any of you read the article in its entirety, you would realize that I have patronized the establishment and enjoyed the food. That is the hypocrisy on my part; patronizing an establishment that seemingly bastardizes the culture that I grew up in and love. That is really the whole point of the piece. However, the very idea of using the phrase “hip hop” and tying it in with fried chicken and fried fish, having a dancing chicken and fish on a giant neon sign, AND blaring music from the local “HOT 97” station is to me quite defaming.
    From a business perspective, there is nothing wrong with marketing a product based on a premise. Unfortunately, you all didn’t and don’t know the true premise of your brand. Hip Hop is a culture consisting of all forms of art originating from the urban environment of America. And when I say urban, I mean just that; derived from the big city streets of America. Its a fact that some of the first significant contributors to the foundation of hip hop were in fact Greeks, Puerto Ricans, and West Indians all living in the various boroughs of New York City.

    So how fried fish and chicken has anything to do with hip hop is beyond me. However, I do appreciate how you have explained how the ownership came to adopting the name of the business. That does not make the name any less exploitative; it just makes the origins more innocent. The ownership decided to capitalize on a premise of which they obviously knew very little about. Its the same exploitative nature as Uncle Ben’s Rice, Aunt Jemima, and even (and sadly) some of the rappers in hip hop. You have taken a part of a culture, gentrified or lampooned it, and have capitalized upon it. Tallahassee, Chicago and the Greater Milwaukee areas all have significant African American communities and as one of the comments stated, the key was to place a stores in Tallahassee “in order to attract the younger crowd” and “we had to think of something that would attract them.” And in Tallahassee, WHICH school is there? Yes, Florida State University, but what’s the other one? Florida A&M University, a Historically Black College. Smells like (no pun intended) exploitation to me.

    And the argument about the workers being from Baltimore is almost laughable. I’m sure there are some workers from Baltimore, but I’m also sure that few to none of them are from the areas where your chains are. I spent many a summer in 2 of those areas; not a whole of diversity in those areas then or now.

    This can go on and for days or even weeks. Neither one of which I have time for. I write this with no animosity or venom. Like I said in the beginning, your informative comments are appreciated. I also appreciate the offer to meet with you and break bread; that is quite noble of you to extend the hand of a “peace” offering.

    One last thing; the article has nothing to do with hatred. I have no hatred towards the management or ownership of the establishment. I just have a low tolerance for be exploited or mocked. Its disrespectful and demeaning. It seems that you have done this unknowingly and that makes a substantial difference. I ask that each of the business’s defendants who chimed in do some research of how brands have exploited people of color in this country. 2 GREAT examples are listed above.

    Again, thanks.

    BTTN

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