Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Soft Power of Power


Quality expert W. Edward Deming didn’t mean to influence Japanese automakers (at least at first).

Chinese warfare theorist Sun-Tzu certainly never meant to influence super-agent Michael Ovitz and by extension, all Hollywood.

And without meaning to, Robert Greene and his Wall Street Journal bestseller The 48 Laws of Power have somehow become the guides of the moment for hip-hop brand-builders:

Rappers write lyrics about the book ("The only book I ever read I could have wrote: '48 Laws of Power,' " Kanye West rapped in a famous freestyle), they refer to it in interviews ("In 'The 48 Laws of Power,' it says the worst thing you can do is build a fortress around yourself," Jay-Z noted in Playboy) and they study it as a guide to succeeding in the cutthroat music business.

"The book is like a martial-arts manual for the business," said Quincy "QD3" Jones III, a rap producer turned filmmaker who is making a feature documentary about "The 48 Laws' " hip-hop connection. "It teaches people in our demographic how to think more holistically about their business practices."

Some reviewers had a different take when the book first appeared. "By the 36th law, you start to feel unclean and worried about your own morality," said one. "By the 44th, you have accepted the fact that you are basically immoral and so is the world. By the time you reach No. 48, you are saying: 'Right, who is my first victim?'"

Continuing his role as an unlikely Virgil, Greene is now co-writing a business book with rapper 50 Cent; watch for it to climb the Billboard charts. ...

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