Wednesday 4 March 2009

"This Beat Is Military" - Hip-Hop, Computer Games & The Military

50 Cent Blood On The Sand

Swordfish Studios and Shady Aftermath have just released a new 50 Cent computer game called "Blood In The Sand". Its described as “a loud shiny parade of gun violence and rap music.”

“Surprise bitches” 50 Cent in game dialogue

“Their world, his rules.”

In the Xbox game, you Dodge R.P.G.’s AK Fire, Drive around in Hummers (Military - no rims) avoiding Snipers in a poor war torn Arab country in a casual mix of Desert combat fatigues and Hip-Hop/Hood wear.

“THE ULTIMATE 50 CENT EXPERIENCE - Play as one of the world’s biggest hip hop stars.”

There is plenty of product placement as you would expect, G-Unit everything, Reebok G-Unit signature sneakers, it ends up as a symbiotic mix of hood wars and world wars all rolled (role modelled) up into very strange message.

50 Cent Still

Private Security On The Ground

50 Cent performing at an MTV event celebrating Military Veterans (in full fatigue gear)

It is nothing new for Rappers to dress in Military surplus, Marine caps, Desert Boots, camo jackets, Jeep Caps are all and have been for quite some time hip-hop staple wear. Army surplus is durable, practicle and cheap.

But looking at 30 plus Rapper 50 Cent and his slimmed down G-Unit entourage Lloyd Banks and DJ etc, conducting urban gorilla battles with masked terrorists, it looks so much like the footage of the private security corporations like Haliburton etc, of ex-military personnel with a loose collection of firearms and civilian and military uniform. As we know the U.S. military machine is winding down troop numbers in Iraq, these Security firms which almost outnumber Regular military personnel, will step in to fill the breach.

Controversial Private Security Firm Black Water

50 is one of the biggest selling Hip-Hop artists ever, so on a corporate responsibility level and the amount of impressionable young ears he has access to is “Intense High Body Count Gun play” such a good thing?

Aaron Blean, Producer on 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand describes the game is “a fictional Middle Eastern setting”, “war-torn country”. Although it is just a game at present there are only a few countries that fit this description, namely countries where the U.S. and various other European nations are engaged. Many of these same nations the U.S. in particular are the core target audience for the game.

Aaron Blean, Producer on 50 manning the gun on a Black hawk helicopter -
“Basically, 50 takes over a helicopter via a gun to the pilot's head and 50's manning a turret, raining death from above into this forsaken, war-torn area. It looks fantastic.”

“This city has the worst gangsters in the world” – Arab Character in the game remarks

“Just another day at the office” 50 Cent

“I’m a hustler, in God we Trust, ashes to ashes, we sling the dust” - 50 Cent lyrics in the game.

But Australian government was not so keen on the violent content of the game as explained by the producer to

IGN AU: Australia's classification board, the dreaded OFLC, actually banned the original game for a while. I'm curious, first of all, if you remember that, and secondly, if you're working with all the classification boards to make sure 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand gets through the classification process?

Aaron Blean: Oh, absolutely. When we first presented it to the board, we had some challenges. But we made a low-violence version for Australia, so it did end up shipping. As for the sequel, we're creating a mature title here for North America and we're getting heavily involved with not only our international partners here but also with the ratings boards, so that we get ahead of any concerns about the game that would hinder the game from shipping there. So, we're already taking the necessary steps to ensure that this game will be shipped in any territory that has violence concerns.

Advert for the original 50 computer game, which was a urban evironment "shoot 'em up".

G-Unit Rider Pt2

The advertising banner above the article for a computer page I took from had content specific advertising, R.A.F Royal Airforce, suggesting that the British military are also attempting to recruit from within the Gaming community.

Recent movie featuring 50 Cent as a Soldier in Iraq

80's recruitment advert for women

and for the Black community

US Army using Hip-Hop style Street Team Techniques for recuiting

“I done told you boy I'm a soldier boy, I got no choice but to be a rider” 50 Cent - RIDER PT. 2

Criminal Conviction Waiver to take the strain of drops in Military recruitment

Operation Hollywood is an excellent documentary exploring the relationship between the U.S. Military and Hollywood.

As the Computer Games Industry is bigger than the music industry and could overtake the Film Industry, is there now a clamour for using Computer Games as Military propaganda?

US Army Commercial Targeting Video Gamers

The Army Game Project description from the US Armies website:

Launched in July 2002 the America's Army game, which is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB, has become one of the most popular computer games in the world. America's Army has penetrated contemporary culture and is one of the most recognizable game brands as a result of its unique inside perspective of the U.S. Army and its exciting gameplay. As the game's popularity continued to grow with each of its dozens of new version releases, the Army has expanded its brand through a variety of products including console and cell phone games, America's Army merchandise such as t-shirts, the Real Heroes program which tells the stories of heroic Soldiers, training applications for use within the military and government sectors, and the incredible Virtual Army Experience. In the near future, the America's Army brand will expand with the launch of America's Army: True Soldiers for Xbox 360 in the Fall of 2007 and America's Army version 3.0 next year.

In the America's Army game, players are bound by Rules of Engagement (ROE) and grow in experience as they navigate challenges in teamwork-based, multiplayer, force versus force operations. In the game, as in the Army, accomplishing missions requires a team effort and adherence to the seven Army Core Values. Through its emphasis on team play, the game demonstrates these values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage and makes them integral to success in America's Army.

In keeping with the dynamic nature of Soldiering, the America's Army game will continue to expand and will allow players to explore the Army of today, tomorrow and the future.

There's strong, and then there's Army Strong!"

"The armies goal? To educate the public about what serving in the Armed Forces is really like, potentially giving a boost to its recruiting numbers "

“War ain't no Computer Game!!!” A video made by a concerned parent read the side bar comment

America's Army

“America's Army - or the Army Game Project - is a freeware tactical multiplayer first-person shooter game -- owned by the United States Government. It's the first game that made recruitment its explicit goal -- and the first well-known use of computer gaming for political aims. Gamers should also realize that America's Army was originally designed to test military aptitude -- and that your online gaming data IS being collected.”

Americas Army Special Forces Trailer
“Empower youself”

Lil’ Wyte (Three Six Mafia)

Lil WYTE U.S.Soldier Boy'-Wyte/09FEF2F6CC19506D48256F2F0005E5CF

Crunchy Blac:
I'ma U.S. mother fuckin soldier boy/
Playin around with them army toys/
You wanna go to war then we can go to war/
See W.Bush he sent us over boy/
Them men all went and got some soldier toys/
Put 'em in a battle and we'll showed you boys/
That army fatigue we gonna make some noise/
And blow that mother fucker from shore to shore/

I’m one of the rappers that understands the difference between entertainment and real life.” - Lil WYTE

US Army Rapper on Recruitment tour

Tricked out US Army Reruiting Hummer

In the US the military is seen as a way out, a job for life, a way to pay for collage tuition. In low income areas recruiting offices are very common, and African Americans and Latin Americans make up a large section of the US military. So hypothetically what better way to target those particular groups, than through Rap music, Video Games and Films featuring "Hood Stars".

Recruiting in the Latino Community

1978 recuitment poster

After the Vietnam war for example, when a huge swathe of military vets returned to the US with no jobs, large scale gang networks started to appear, from L.A. to N.Y. in the 70's the seeds of the cross country gang culture started to appear. Some people say this was as a result in part of the Vietnam War. New York Times Reporters Sontag and Alvarez unearthed a study from 1988 that claims a link between increased Crime and Vietnam Vets.

"The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, considered the most thorough analysis of this population, found that 15 percent of the male veterans still suffered from full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder more than a decade after the war ended. Half of the veterans with active PTSD had been arrested or in jail at least once, and 34.2 percent more than once. Some 11.5 percent of them had been convicted of felonies, and veterans are more likely to have committed violent crimes than nonveterans, according to government studies. In the mid-1980s, with so many Vietnam veterans behind bars that Vietnam Veterans of America created chapters in prisons, veterans made up a fifth of the nation’s inmate population.

"As Iraq and Afghanistan veterans get enmeshed in the criminal justice system, former advocates for Vietnam veterans are disheartened by what they see as history repeating itself."

Gangs in the Military

School For LA Gangsters - US Military

Gangland - Gangs In The Military 'Basic Training' 1 of 5

People have said that Iraq was the first war with a Hip-Hop soundtrack, and there is some truth in that, but when you have a monopoly on every aspect of influence on young people and it is so highly charged with violence and singular aims, how does that expression play out in a cilvilian environment? Are we seeing unprecidented increased murder rates in the US and the UK, as a result in part by the militarisation of entertainment?

Teenagers with a Military Recruiter at Career day in New York

Iraqi child Malitia with 50Cent T-shirt

“Chess anyone?”


This article is in no way negative to the members of the armed forces or their families. It is just examining the milaterisation of young peoples entertainment.


em2wice said...

Great Piece. Essential reading.

The Kool Skool said...

Thanks alot, I was suprised by what I found too...

Drasar Monumental said...


Unknown said...

True indeed brotha. Love the site.