Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Game of Thrones Mixtape! Not big on HBO's Intentions, but great Artists!

Any time you want to get an 'urban' audience to sink money into your product, and the first idea you come up with is a hip-hop rap, my Afro-Antenna start to sense radio signals in the form of profiling and stereotyping. To me it's suspect that your first goto for marketing to people-of-color, and your idea of an urban environment, is rap.  I'm not saying that strategy is insulting in itself.  If your product is geared to a city lifestyle, then it makes sense to include culture in your advertising.

But what if your product doesn't have anything to do with hip-hop, or urban culture, or even people of color for the most part?  What if your product doesn't have anything to do with this time period, or even reality?  What if your product is simply one of the best fantasy TV shows that is currently on air?  It has great storytelling, and characters that everybody can connect with.  It even has a dude on the short side that people are rooting for when it comes to winning the - GAME OF THRONES.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article last week about HBO hiring rappers, both promanint and underground talents, to make a CATCH THE THRONE mixtape based on the hit TV show.  On the surface, I have no problem with this.  I think it was an interesting and unique creative endeavor.  But from the tone of the article, HBO intentions weren't only to do something different, but to hopefully use the mixtape to attract 'Urban / Multicultural' audiences.  In marketing speak, that mostly translates to African American and Latino people, mostly.  According to the article, the Mixtape was HBO's way trying to bring up their numbers for the show, where the Black and Latino percentage of viewers are lower than the network's general viewership.  The logic was that since rap has influenced the buying habits of urban audiences, why not use that power to spread the reach of GoT.  But to be fair, I'm still not sure if it was the sentiments of the article's author, or actually the network.  I'm going with network.

So here's what bothers me.  First of all, just because a rap mentions something, doesn't mean Black people will automatically buy it. I'm not going to say it doesn't happen.  But despite what other people think, Black people, and Latino people, don't all act the same.  Nor do they act like economic automatons, hypnotically following what the media says.  I mean, not more than anybody else.

Second, if you want more Black and Latino audiences to watch a show, maybe you should just traditionally market the show to them. Or even better, include some Black heroes in that joint.  And please white brothers and sisters of geekdom, don't start listing how many Black characters are in the show or books.  I already know.   Don't be one of those people that can't distinguish between a side character and a hero.  Or did you think T-Dawg in Walking Dead was on the same storytelling level as most all of the other major characters?  Thank you for bring in Tyrese and Michonne and the others to balance things out.

But you know what? I'm not even hating on the fact that the major players in Game of Thrones are white.  Not a problem.  Because like many Black people, I just like quality shows.  So HBO, don't hit me with what you think an Urban audience will respond to.   Hit them with what you think 'People' will respond to.  Unless you plan on doing another Mixtape for your other series GIRLS.  Definitely not watching that.


Needless to say, I actually like the Mixtape a lot.  It has Big Boy and Common and other well known artist giving up all kinds of nerdalicious lyrics about the show.  I don't listen to rap for the most part.  Nothing against it at all, I'm just more of a jazz and instrumental type person. That being said, I can't get enough of ARYA'S PRAYER by Dominik Omega. And I'm feelin' several other tracks as well.  If all rap was spittin' about Science Fiction and Fantasy like this I would be listening 24/7.  Understand, I'm not posting it to spread the word for HBO, but to shine light on these artists and give my fellow nerds something they might enjoy. Odds are you're already watching GoT if your reading this.

Here's a clip from Vibe about the production of the mix:


So yeah, I gave HBO the side-eye for a minute about their intentions of this project, but I think they produced a cool mix with some awesome artists that really appreciate the show. My thinking is the mixtape may not bring a lot of people to watch the show.  But a lot of Game of Thrones nerds are going to be asking for more lyricists to rap about Khaleesi and the Starks.


  1. I agree with what you're saying and I'll add another layer to it. I am a blerd who isn't really into hip hop, but I like a good sci fi tale. If I wasn't already into the show, this would do exactly zip to lure me in. In fact hearing about how HBO is specifically trying to market to AA's it would likely have the opposite effect.

    1. I agree. In fact, I asked a friend who would be the targeted audience and he said the mix is pretty good, but it's not making him want to watch the show. Not everybody likes fantasy stuff. It is what it is.