In promoting his much-hyped second studio album, Triple F Life: Friends, Fans, and Family, Wacka Flocka Flame has begun to attract criticism for some of the more dubious advertising techniques employed throughout the process. It could signal major legal troubles for Flocka, who may stand to forfeit all the royalties from the release if an investigation were to reveal misconduct—which it almost certainly would. Most think a lawsuit is likely, given the magnitude and scope of the techniques employed by Waka’s advertising firm, PeepDis Inc., the self-proclaimed “industry pioneer in creative advertising.” Critics point out that there are distinct and rather clear differences between creativity and outright libel, innovation and false advertising.
The controversy stems from an extensive, international advertising campaign—consisting of TV, radio, internet, and print ads, all equally dishonest—that has been running since mid-April of last year. Despite this, the fan reaction to the elaborate campaign has been “subdued” says an employee of Media Analytics, a firm that monitors the efficiency of advertising dollars spent. Subdued indeed. A series of YouTube videos made to promote the album have garnered a total of 27 hits in almost a year’s time, “all from the same IP Address, registered to Mr. Flocka’s own Toshiba laptop,” says Media Analytics. A Facebook group started by Waka himself to promote the album has only two members, he himself being the first one, and a woman confirmed to be his grandmother the second, although her Facebook account looks suspicious, and very well could have been hastily created by Waka’s promotion team. The group, which began with routine posts promoting the album, has devolved into a repetitive one-way communication tool for Waka to thank his grandmother for her support. (To be clear, Waka’s agent says that his mother was in the group at one point in time, i.e., the group used to have a total of 3 members, but she later removed herself and blocked her talentless son entirely.) Ironically, it seems, Waka’s friends, fans, and family are not behind his new album, the sales of which may prompt Waka to reconsider what three F words he will be repeating in months to come.
But the complete failure to generate hype on Facebook is not where Waka finds himself facing potential legal trouble, which is more a result of the practices employed by his marketing firm, PeepDis Inc., which research shows is composed of a handful of ex-felons with no official work experience.
Promoting an album that is now almost certain to fail, the ad campaigns all feature a series of quotes from critics and entertainment magazines, ostensibly touting the album as a critically acclaimed masterpiece. But a quick Google search, or brief conversation with anyone who has heard parts of the CD, reveals that the consensus opinion is in fact unanimously negative. One would never imagine this on the basis of the campaign, which reels off quote after quote showering Waka Flocka’s Triple F Life with fantastic—and quite literally unbelievable—praises. One such ad ran in an Atlanta newspaper and read as follows:
“DA CRITICS IZ CRAZY BOUT WAKA’S NEW ALBUM, TRIPLE F LIFE: FRIENDS, FANS, AND FAMILY, COMING SOON IN 2012. SEE WHAT DEY SAYIN:
‘…literally could not conceive of a better album…’
‘…easily, hands-down, the best rap album of all time…’
‘…truly a work of profound…genius…’
‘…2 thumbs way up…’
—Ebert & Roper”
These supposedly glowing reviews, when read in their full, original, and intended context, reveal a jarring disparity between their real meaning and the implied meaning promulgated by Waka’s promotional team. Here is how these quotes originally appeared in the sources mentioned; you be the judge (the text omitted from Waka’s ads is highlighted in bold):
“I literally could not conceive of a better albumto inspire someone to go home and slit their wrists to mourn the death of art itself. The most horrendous excuse for music I have ever heard. Ever.”
—Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
“If unoriginal content, recycled beats, half-assed effort, and no talent were the marks of a classic CD, this would be considered easily, hands-down, the best rap album of all time.”
“Waka’s album is entirely deserving of its ‘Triple F’ moniker. Everything about it reeks of failure and epitomizes raw awfulness. The most pathetic attempt man has ever made in any age to art or cultured expression. In that sense, it’s certainly unprecedented.”
“Truly a work of profound crap. Waka’s sheer stupidity is evident in every single line of every single song. At one point I just turned the album off when I realized he was making George W. look like a fucking genius.”
“Now, we don’t usually review music, but we made an exception for Waka Flocka Flame’s new album. We’d been hearing how dreadfully bad it was and decided to give it a listen, just for the heck of it…turns out that it was, in fact, god-awful. Our only comment on Triple F Life is that Waka must have had two thumbs way up his ass when he was recording it. Waka Flocka has done everything within his power to give momentum to the racist stereotype that black people are lazy, violent, stupid, drug dealers who offer nothing to society. For me, I can say with certainty that the album made me reconsider these stereotypes and become a racist again.”
—Ebert & Roeper
While Ebert & Roeper have faced their own backlash for the joint statement admitting to a reversion to racism, they have stood their ground and refused to retract their statement, saying they will only retract it if Waka Flocka retires from rapping, doesn’t release his new CD, is banned from the airwaves, and stops misusing their quote to make it seem like they support him.
For its part, the African-American community seems to support Ebert & Roeper. Said the influential Reverend Jesse Jackson “I have been a champion for civil rights my entire life. There is no goal more important to me than erasing the ugliness of racism entirely from the face of this earth. But it simply cannot be done if Wacka Flocka continues to perpetuate and encourage racist stereotypes. I’m confident that he is the sole reason racism still exists. Why do you think there are so many racists in the south?” asks Jackson, forcefully, tears swelling in his eyes. “It’s because of Waka.”