It was recently announced that Paris Hilton would be releasing her second studio album this summer on Birdman’s Cash Money Records.
While Hilton stars in the video for Rich Gang’s first single “Tapout,” it’s still an announcement that feels strange, given the usual roster of rap talent Birdman’s label attracts. Talent such as Drake, Jay Sean, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and Ace Hood are all label mates on Cash. Yet Hilton – who released her pop debut album, Paris, in 2006 on Warner Brothers – should still feel right signing to a label known predominantly for their rap stars. Here are some reasons why this makes a lot more sense than you think.
While “Started from the Bottom” is a catchy track from Drake, it’s a song that feels archaic and out of place in the new world of rap music. While we can recall some of the greatest rap and R&B tunes from the past detailing the idea of “making it” and getting out of a situation that wasn’t ideal (think Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, N.W.A, even Get Rich or Die Tryin’, by 50 Cent), it’s no longer something the best rappers are rapping about anymore.
Look to Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance,” or even anything from Future’s excellent mixtape, F.B.G. The Movie, and we’re seeing rappers no longer discussing their spotty past to the top, or their road to success; but rather celebrating, revelling in the money they have right now.
Rap is changing. Now rappers rap more about the bills they’re throwing at their video hoes, being on the Forbes list, and their “million dollar pussy” much more than about the struggle to how they got all that money.
So if rap is slowly becoming a genre about money and having a lot of money, why wouldn’t you have Ms. Money Herself, Paris Hilton herself, on one of your label mates? A woman who is a billionaire in just fragrances alone. Putting that in perspective, Madonna just became a billionaire this year with her MDNA Tour sales; a woman whose has had overwhelming success, record sales, and sold-out concerts over several decades. Hilton is not just a billionaire, but a billionaire in perfume alone; something that’s only a small percentage of her revenue if you include club appearances, interviews, movie cameos, and her Reality TV success.
By signing Hilton, Birdman takes the Cash Money name to a new point of definition, expanding from a label known for their successful artists into something of a collection of individuals with money, fame, and fortune; a group that defines success, disposable income and power – a group that Hilton fits into with no problems.
But it sometimes isn’t just about money: Paris Hilton can make a good pop song too. While Paris sold a little less than 200,000 copies, the tracks on the album were quite solid. It avoided the mistakes of Heidi Montag’s Superficial and Kim Kardashian’s messy sole single “Jam (Turn It Up).” Hilton’s producers knew her vocal strengths and worked with them, making music that was breathy, but effective. In fact, her most successful single, “Stars Are Blind,” received attention from Lady GaGa, who, in an interview, called it “one of the greatest records ever . . . a great pop record.” Let’s not also forget that her recent track with collaborators Manufactured Superstars, “Drunk Text,” was an absurd, but amazing club track. Something that felt self-aware, silly at times, but great. If Hilton has more dance tracks in her, who are we to deny ourselves from hearing them?
While this doesn’t mean to become a love letter for Hilton, I don’t feel ashamed to let you know that I’m rooting for Paris. While she can be an easy target given her sex tape, her squeaky-voiced Reality TV persona, and her ability to let her status as an heiress make her come across as entitled and shallow, Hilton should be able to garner more respect as a businesswoman than she does. Currently, Hilton has 17 different product lines of shoes, handbags, and perfumes around the world, and Hilton has currently opened 44 different Paris Hilton stores around the world. On a business level, this news is impressive, but in a recent interview with Letterman this fact is barely discussed, and he then spends the interview trying to embarrass Hilton by Windex-ing her forearm and seeing if she can guess which “scent” of her 18 perfumes she’s wearing.
Hilton’s billion dollar self-worth comes across more as a punchline, rather than an impressive fact. Hilton needs a group of people like Cash Money to save her from all of her critics. Right now, there aren’t a lot of people on her side, and if she can release something musically strong, with backing from an unusual source, we can expect a new Hilton. A Hilton who isn’t a comic point, or a person who an interviewer can ask “do you feel your moment has passed?” But rather someone who was laughing at herself this whole time with us . . . all the way to the bank, and all the way to a potentially successful music career we just didn’t think would happen.
–Aristotle Eliopoulos is a writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. When Aristotle isn’t dissecting the Marxist Feminist tones of Tara Reid’s new moombahton song (released exclusively for Jamba Juice in the Philippines), he’s working hard to get the Church of Marissa Cooper off the ground — which is going well so far, but you know how Josh Schwartz can be.