Confessions of a Failed Hip-Hop Publicist

Confessions of a Failed Hip-Hop Publicist

Sebastien-Elkouby-Afrika-BambaataaIt’s not often that we receive an e-mail like the one we got from Sebastien Elkouby today. His words were not of an up-and-coming rapper, buzzing indie band, or anything like that. The longtime hip-hop publicist—that’s him with Afrika Bambaataa above—sent out a blast to everyone he could to share his newly penned letter describing why it’s time for him to give up on his profession.

Elkouby admits that it’ll be difficult to find a new career path at the age of 40, but for him, enough is enough. You can find out why he considers himself a “failed hip-hop publicist” and much more by click below. Props to Jacob at Pigeons & Planes for bringing this to my attention.

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  1. Mo
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 15:47:00

    It is unrealistic to expect the people who fund the rap industry to place morals over profit. Hip hop is a separate category than Rap and I’m surprised the two are being used interchangeably…

  2. Matthew Myopinion Fcku Murphy
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 11:15:00

    u lack the robin hood complex thats needed in todays society, i would rather take that money that comes from the shiity artists and use it to fund projects that encompasses my principals. because somebody is getting that job if u don’t take it…someone that might use the money to perpetuate all that u dislike with the industry. u could have started a record label that showed reward to the artists that are more of what u think are true hip hop artists. its a shame that someone with your influence and principals is getting out the game…

  3. The Answer
    Jun 19, 2013 @ 02:13:00

    man that’s depressing. Respect! keep pursuing you’re passion of teaching, it won’t go unnoticed!

  4. akhan360
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 11:42:00


  5. 0ddigital
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 11:26:00

    thanx for this post. feel this dude to the core!!!!

  6. Rita Forte
    Mar 08, 2013 @ 14:32:00

    THANK YOU FIRST. I found this through raprehab.com then signed your petition, then found this…and THANK YOU. I have the same sentiments, (and this may sound cliche), but I had them around the time in 2009 when Michael Jackson died. It was around then that i realized that as a DJ, college educated black woman, I was constantly promoting the dumbing down of our youth, and not using the power of music for good (which is what Michael Jackson’s music was all about). I felt the same way. Very alone and super conflicted by statements such as “it’s the nature of the business”. Thank GOD, it came to the same point where I could just no longer go along with the crowd. It was then when I started on a similar journey that you are on now, quit DJing, but working in the system still if you will as a Manager….but who i promote, who i stand for and who i do consistent BUSINESS with must be on a similar wavelength. Anyways, as commented on your petition, please reach out if I can help your movement in any way. THANKS AGAIN.

    Rita Forte
    The Olive Street Agency
    (formerly DJ BackSide)

  7. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 08:04:00


  8. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 08:03:00


  9. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 08:02:00

    leave that to epmd,those were the daze

  10. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 08:01:00

    exactly its a cool tool for cultures or different race etc to get on with one another,.

  11. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 07:58:00

    not sure its in to bad health its just ,we are used to it ther was tons of shite in the old days too.

  12. William Minto
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 07:58:00

    not sure its in to bad health its just ,we are used to it ther was tons of shite in the old days too.

  13. Audone
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 14:03:00

    Much Respect to you Sebastien!

  14. raka nati
    Feb 03, 2013 @ 15:55:00

    I think this is sort of bullshit. There’s SOOOOO many artists out there, if you looked outside the framework, you could get down with the Los Rakas (Oakland kids from Panama) of the world, the Dizzy Wright’s of the world, the Nitty Scott, MC’s of the world – there are highly buzzed DIY hip-hop artists out there trying to build positive movements USING hip-hop. Don’t lose hope and find the quality out there and actually SUPPORT IT!

  15. Sebastien
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 01:26:00

    I’ve received hundreds of emails of support in the past weeks. it’s kind of overwhelming but very encouraging. There are people all across the world who want better Hip Hop and a change is indeed coming. There are so many dope new artists that stay true to Hip Hop without following corny trends. I’m inspired! And to the few haters, it’s all good. You’ll thank people like me later when you realize your kids have a greater choice of Hip Hop music than you have now. Peace.

  16. gunsfromreddead
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 17:23:00

    I think it’s important to point out that dude was probably not looking to publicize artists that sounded like your 80s or 90s super NY boombap conscious ATCQ cats that most of the trolls on here are claiming he is looking for. The reason why 2chainz and Trinidad James blew up was because laughable comically-hood southern rap has become the next great thing. No publicist that I’m aware of goes off looking for things that “sounds just like” something that’s already out there, because there’s no money or interest to be made off of it. The reason why Outkast did well and still remained “of quality” was because it was something different than what was currently out. Not too many aspiring rappers recognize that so they sort of follow the trend, so what dude got were a bunch of psuedo-[current rapper name here] in his inbox.

    Most publicists out there now are just looking for the next big-ig’nant-idea-that’s-sure-to-get-attention cause it’s been making tons of money in various forms since the mid 2000s, and it’s working against the declining number of people who are actually more in love with the idea of a thriving genre of great ideas.

  17. anawfultruth
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 14:15:00

    i m afraid that what is (very well) described here is also valuable for other fields… mass media, mass culture in general.

  18. Beep
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 05:00:00

    All that wack shit on main radios, TV music channels and so on is bugging me too. However there are a lot of young cats that deserve a chance, a lot of old cats doing their thing properly and that keeps me on my struggle promoting real HipHop in my country! Real HipHop won’t die and it will always exist.

  19. Trek Life
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 14:30:00

    Damn, This is disheartening to read. Understandable, yet disheartening. Best of luck Sebastian. We appreciate all your given effort to the quality of our music.

  20. Dadi Vozo
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 08:18:00

    Respect & Support.

  21. Brian
    Jan 20, 2013 @ 20:24:00

    Narrow taste. That’s rich. Nevermind that the change in Hip Hop is a complete mirror of the decline in Black culture during/after the 1970’s, what with the Exploitation films that came out from the Hollywood jews. Too much pride circulating in the black community. Thanks to stupid cunts like you, we are where we are today. Don’t worry; anything with the least bit of intelligence ain’t for you. Stick to chief keef, fuckin’ whore.

  22. Kamil
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 19:10:00

    “Ich dachte Hip Hop sei anders – ihr habt mich ein bisschen enttäusch.”

  23. Kuchio
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 04:18:00

    You pay a publicist for strategy, for networks, and for brand development. The result is that all you have to do is hit the studio, but if you can do it solo that is good

  24. Kuchio
    Jan 19, 2013 @ 04:14:00

    I feel your disappointment on the quality of hip hop. Sometimes, it is just exhausting to listen to some of the gimmicky middling talent that is treated as top tier and to hear their imitators try to succeed with copy paste versions of wackness.

  25. brian
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 21:26:00

    Nice read. kudos for bowing out with integrity. that said, i wouldnt write off the young rappers of the world just yet. it’s the start of a lot of rap careers right now.. who knows what kind of layers there may be to some of these dudes

  26. Teekay Torqzino Nhlapo
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 20:18:00

    He must do his last interview with kendrick lamar…he is overall right with the hip hop game it has changed,for the worst

  27. 6Minutz.com
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 19:14:00

    This was very intriguing. I think a lot of people feel the same way as Sebastien, but won’t admit it because (A) paying industry jobs are hard to find and (B) some people don’t want to feel like they’re abandoning Hip Hop because they’re not happy with its present incarnation and direction.

    But the business of Hip Hop hasn’t changed much since the days of N.W.A. and Eric B.& Rakim and even Run D.M.C..People keep mistaking what they see in Hip Hop today as just being a deterioration in creativity and philosophy; OK, a level of creativity has surfaced. But Hip Hop has moved much closer to the streets than it was a generation or so ago. And the closer you get to the trap house, the more hardcore the lyrics and imagery are gonna be because they reflect the cultural realities of the people who are spitting these rhymes. That’s just being real.

    For those who can’t relate, its an ugly picture. But it is what it is. You can’t change Hip Hop unless you somehow influence the culture that drives it and that’s unlikely to happen. Hip Hop is not Pop music.

  28. PanamaFresh
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 02:50:00

    nobody is saying Chief Keef & 2 Chains and the rest of the shallow bunch shouldn’t be around…we had them clowns in the golden era as well out to make a check (2 LIVE CREW) i ain’t mad at that…the problem is the the machine’s deliberate slant and direction to under-promote and not market the other side of the spectrum. Regardless…a new wave will rise and crush their wack plans to paint HIP HOP into some superficial box…this cat Sebastien’s work in these workshops will be the work to reap the seeds that will grow into this evolved and conscious new breed to move things back in balance.

  29. Sebastien
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 01:30:00

    And by the way, for a piece you say isn’t remotely interesting, you sure took quite an interest in it. I usually ignore things I’m not impressed by. That’s my tip for you. Peace.

  30. Sebastien
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 01:26:00

    You gotta love online psycho analysis! Thanks for having such insight into who I am. Someone as sharp and opinionated as you are shouldn’t have a problem writing their own article and sharing their insight with the rest of us unimpressive whiners and hangers-on. You got it all figured out and I’ll be waiting on you to show me the light. Looking forward to it.

  31. ROOT
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 18:45:00

    I’m impressed that you’ve apparently been a rap fan since the age of zero. Here’s a tip: stop whining about your lack of success. There’s literally nothing remotely interesting about this piece, and yet there’s a gaggle of hangers-on patting him on the back for the same old, tired, racist diatribes — vaguely cloaked in an argument about morals, when it’s actually as simple as having different styles — that white people have been making about rap since its birth. Your inability to find nuance in words (which are — shockingly! — not the same as actions) is not newsworthy. Yet another “fan” is guided by his increasing age and narrow taste to make a reductive argument that fulfills all the right stereotypes about his position in society.

  32. Sebastien
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 17:30:00

    Again, much respect to everyone for your support. It’s extremely encouraging.

  33. chelsea
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 15:35:00

    Hey man sorry to hear that but I know somewhat what you are feeling. A guy told me that I had potential and he liked what me and my friends did but he added, “you guys have to find people that like your niche because for the most part the masses don’t wanna hear that weird stuff”. Back on topic though its a sad state of affairs but this just doesn’t affect Hip Hop or even music, it affects pretty much every corporation as they overlook the wrongdoing all to turn a profit. I wish you luck and may good karma be on your side. Maybe one day others will see things the way you do.

  34. Damion Gonzales
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 14:20:00

    Peace and Blessings to you my brother!

  35. Zach Moldof
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 14:10:00

    Everything is changing. I promise. Trust Rad Reef.

    Jan 17, 2013 @ 11:12:00

    To sum up that response “Shit, I didn’t expect the guy that wrote the letter to see what I said. Now I feel guilty.”

  37. Sole
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 03:50:00

    I have done my own PR for the past 2-3 years… And have managed to consistently get better press on my own for free then any publicist ever has! The idea that an Indy publicist deserves to make more money working an album then an Indy artist makes from their own creation is a relic of a bygone era… The era of record labels. How does a publicist dare to charge $2k a month for doing pr, knowing damn well their only costs are wi fi! They’re not sending out CDs, or paying long distance bills anymore!!! It is highway robbery! Technology is rendering everything obsolete… Soon we humans will go the way of the plow as well!,,

    I applaud this man for recognizing that only the shit rises to the top in this biz, and to have integrity o say “no thanks.” I’m sure he’ll find new ways of working that are gratifying…

    Good luck!

  38. Vix Chandra
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 01:32:00

    much respect sebastien. stay up!

  39. andyK
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 01:11:00

    standing up for what you believe is right…can’t knock that!

  40. Sebastien
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 00:08:00

    Apology accepted. it’s all good!

  41. seanhive
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 23:45:00

    Wow this is brilliant. Thank you for posting this.

  42. nanigan
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 22:16:00

    ^kudos to this guy for having class.

  43. GodissGOYS
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:39:00

    Have a look at this Twitter discussion: https://twitter.com/audibletreats/status/291692909189791745

  44. GodissGOYS
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:37:00

    They dont read. -___-

  45. damnton
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:21:00

    you know what dude. i do apologize.. i’m the gross troll here. this was obviously really personal to you, and while i don’t agree with your views regarding mainstream hip hop. I really shouldn’t have come in and be mean to you. good luck with your future endeavors.

  46. St8us
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 20:20:00

    The problem as I see it is there is little to no “equilibrium” for what is promoted.

    I try liken it to what rock was going through in the 80’s with the hair and metal bands. It was a period of indulgence and what sold, thus business and youth flocked; This doesn’t mean there weren’t important rock bands emerging at the time, hair or no hair, and it didn’t mean that the greats weren’t making music.

    And in the end it just became another genre of the art form; and we see that becoming apparent in hip hop. IMHO hip hop purists need to understand that, or at least take ownership of ‘rap’ being a splintered art form now i.e. some is art and some is just paper chasing.

    Though how this plays into the full breadth of cultural implications in a world where the predominant depictions of AfAm broadcast to the world are limited is a much larger topic.

  47. Flockabey
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 19:28:00

    Just got in a Twitter discussion about this…. Twitter.com/flockabey

  48. #BB5YEARS 18 Jan!
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 19:01:00

    The music is intended to be offensive to those not ‘in the loop’. 2 Chainz or Uncle Murder would love to read this.

  49. Sebastien
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:58:00

    Thanks to all those who show support. I’ll always be a Hip Hop head, just no longer part of the business.

  50. Sebastien
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:57:00

    Thanks for summing up my letter. Sounds like you know me better than I know myself. Next time, I’ll check with you to make sure you approve my life story.

  51. Sebastien
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:55:00

    You’re right. I’m not built for this, that’s why I’m leaving but you can pick up where I left off and get those strippers to dance to anything you want.

  52. Mikayla
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:48:00

    I wish him luck on his next step. Someone with that much passion for his work deserves the best.

  53. Samantha Fenwick
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:46:00

    There will always be a dark side, but kudos to you for working with kids and showing them the positivity and love that can shine from hip hop.

  54. topofny
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:15:00

    you two retards above are the reason this old man gave up on his love of hip hop. major props to the OG. your passion wont go unnoticed.

  55. Haterproof
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:02:00

    Yeah dude sorry that strippers don’t dance to Jeru the Damaja, sounds like yr not built for this.

  56. damnton
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 17:38:00

    to sum up this letter; ‘waaaahhh Mos Def and MF DOOM already had a publicist, so now I can’t make money because I find pop music too vapid. waaaah wahh wahh’

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