Bow Wow thinks hip-hop artists should have a union modeled after the NBA Players Association.
Shad Moss, best known as the ’90s hit rapper Bow Wow, said hip-hop needs a board of directors that will protect the financial rights of artists.
“Hip hop needs a board!” Bow Wow wrote on Instagram. “No different than the NBA w/ the players association. A committee. That can set rules and keep things in control and protect this thing we call hip hop! And have a retirement plan for the og rappers. I hate seeing my heros liquor’d out no money just washed.”
Inside the NBPA
The NBPA was established in 1954 and is the oldest trade union of the four major North American professional sports leagues. It promotes career development, player activism, and leadership on and off the court.
New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum is the union’s current president, and the union’s executives consist of an executive director, first vice president, a secretary-treasurer, and six additional vice presidents.
The NBPA negotiates the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between itself and the NBA, which governs the terms and conditions of employment for the players.
The NBPA collectively bargained professional basketball players into an average salary of $7 million, GQ reported in 2019.
Players must pay the union dues for its services.
Bow Wow’s hip-hop union idea echoes the same sentiments Jay-Z jokingly made back in 2006, as HipHopXD reports The New York rapper’s sarcastic call for a hip-hop union stemmed from his feud with fellow NYC rapper Jim Jones, who Hov believed should have never been allowed to diss him.
“We need, like, a Hip Hop board to approve certain things,” Jay-Z quipped. “Who is Jim Jones? You know, to be saying something about me? If we’re looking at it as far as career accomplishments or lyrical skill … that’s like the ninth man off the bench sitting there shouting, ‘You a bum’ to the superstar on court putting up 50 every night.”
And in March 2022, Big K.R.I.T also spoke about rappers needing to unionize during an interview with Ebro Darden on Apple Music 1.
“We were talking about a union before we got on this show,” K.R.I.T. said. “And I was like, ‘Musicians have a union, most people have a union, why artists don’t have a union? I see mad artists they go through the process. They either have a hit record or they don’t. They get signed, they get dropped.”
K.R.I.T. added, “They break down, they get on drugs, they go to the streets. But there’s no collective to call and be like, ‘Hey, man. I need to go to rehab. Hey, man. I need help with these bills. I acquired too much. What’s a good lawyer I can go to? What is the deal I signed?’”
The Hip-Hop Alliance Union
There is also technically a hip-hop union in placed; Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, rap legend Kurtis Blow, and KRS-One last year created the Hip-Hop Alliance union.
According to its website, “The HHA is the first union for Hip Hop! Our partnership with the American Labor Union, SAG-AFTRA, enables us to be on a mission to promote fair wages, fair royalties and strong health and retirement benefits for all creators in the Hip Hop and R&B community.”
While the site does not say how many members have joined, there are a number of hip-hip veteran involved, such as MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, as well as entertainment attorneys.
“Managers, Artists, Agents, Engineers and Producers, what is the retirement plan, healthcare plan, and fare commission standards for us? What is a fare wage for what we do within ‘hip-hop’ as an industry?” asked KRS-One in a post announcing the union on Instagram. “Who speaks for us? What brings dignity and respect to the work that we do? Answer: The Hip Hop Alliance! With the knowledge, the skill, and the power of our collective voice, there is no reason why we cannot protect ourselves and our future!”