by Miles Raymer
The hot shit in extramusical moneymaking in hip-hop at the moment is designer headphones, a synergistic cross-branding effort intended to separate rap fans from their money to the tune of around $300. Dr. Dre pioneered the form with his Beats by Dre line, and Ludacris, 50 Cent, and Chief Keef all have their own signature cans now.
In my far from scientific but not necessarily inaccurate fieldwork there are two types of people who buy expensive, rapper-endorsed headphones. On one end, there are the status-seeking ones who buy them exactly because they're so expensive—wearing the Beats by Dre logo is tantamount to hanging a $300 price tag off of your ear.
The other type is the hardcore hip-hop obsessive who buys them specifically because of the rapper endorsements, and the implied promise that they will deliver the type of high audio quality that a sonic obsessive like Dr. Dre demands, which is not actually the case, as all of the rapper-endorsed headphones I've tried out have sounded like complete ass.
This type of guy always projects an air of being very serious about rap music, and I like to pretend that every guy like that I see on the street is listening to nothing but Slaughterhouse records on repeat. I wonder how they will feel when they see this video of 50 Cent, avatar of humor-deficient hip-hop heads and former poster boy for antisocial behavior, swinging by QVC to hawk his expensive headphones in between bouts of canoodling with middle-aged white women, discussing his tastes in perfume, and generally being a charming, nonthreatening schmoozer. I imagine them shedding a single tear before they pound a Street King and work out their feelings on a round of online multiplayer Call of Duty.
Because there was once a time when 50 Cent was a legitimately great rapper.