5 People Who Abused Their Power For Terrible Music Careers
Being born wealthy means having the luxury to do whatever you want in life. And as it turns out, most rich kids just want to be pop stars. But sometimes it goes beyond Will Smith's son rapping innocuously about being Batman or an anime character and into the realm of outright absurdity. Look at how ...
The Son Of Georgia's Prime Minister Launched A Rap Career
Georgia has produced some of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time, like Andre 3000, Ludacris, and even the Ying Yang Twins, depending on how much you dig songs with "Shake" in the title. Unfortunately, Bera Ivanishvili is from the other Georgia.
Specifically, he's the son of Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire and former prime minister who's remembered for running the Eastern European country from a glass-and-steel "castle" (complete with shark tank) which he built looming over the capital. Thanks to his dad, Bera was able to hire hit producers like Rob Fusari, start a record label, buy his own TV channel, and produce expensive music videos at the age of 16. He used to cite Tupac as his biggest inspiration, although "literally Caucasian billionaire failson" may not have been Shakur's intended audience.
When not living the party rap lifestyle in Los Angeles, Bera also intervened in politics, releasing diss tracks aimed at his father's enemies. When Bidzina's puppet president got too out of line, Bera immediately put out a song reminding Georgians that he wasn't the true leader of the country. He also regularly performed at state events while his dad was in office, charming audiences with lyrics like "where the girls in the itty bitty bikini?" That's a line from his hit "Summertime," which is the exact song every 12-year-old would release if they suddenly had millions of dollars. Unfortunately, Bera was about 19 at the time.
Bera's other fire bars include "All my ice be glowing / Summertime but my wrist be snowing / Spending money 'cause my money keep growing," even though boasting tends to play better when you've come up from the streets, not when your dad triumphed in something called the "Aluminum Wars." Without wanting to be cruel, there are youth counselors doing educational raps about the dangers of juuling with more style and flow.
Bera has more recently transitioned from rap in favor of heartfelt piano ballads, which is about as bad of a switch as that sounds. However, outside of music, Bera has pushed for marijuana legalization and filmed a video with Georgia's first trans pop star, which actually all sounds pretty nice. Wait, do we need to teach Eric Trump how to rap?
The Dictator's Daughter Who Forced An Entire Country To Listen To Her Music
For decades, the people of Uzbekistan toiled under the rule of Islam Karimov, a brutal dictator who used to boil his enemies alive. As if that wasn't bad enough, they also had to put up with his daughter Gulnara, a ruthless robber baron who seized control of entire sectors of the economy. You'd expect her to spend those ill-gotten billions trying to kill Nathan Drake or building something called "the Sun Eater," but Gulnara had darker plans: becoming an international pop superstar. And she wasn't about to let a complete lack of talent get in her way.
As "Googoosha," Gulnara pumped out a stream of pricey music videos and hired every celebrity producer willing to accept payment in suitcases full of slightly stained wedding rings. She even paid Billboard to put her on the cover, which might help explain how Billboard is still in business. She was everywhere in Uzbekistan, where her music blared in public places and automatically hit the top of the charts. Because when you've spent all day slaving in the government wheat fields, you really want to kick back and unwind with the duet the president's daughter bribed Gerard Depardieu into recording.
Googoosha's career inexplicably never took off outside her home country, despite a unique musical style best described as "Eurovision contestant, but without the dignity." Take "RoundRun," her most blatant play for international stardom, which features a beat seemingly originally intended to soundtrack a mass suicide in a Rotterdam nightclub circa 2002.
It was also clearly filmed during the 15 minutes when parkour was cool, since they let a guy do a bunch of jump-kicks off Uzbekistan's most beautiful historic buildings. (Preserving architecture is nice, but not being boiled alive is even nicer.) Gulnara eventually lost a power struggle and was placed under house arrest by her own father, then thrown in prison following his death. Throngs of her fans failed to take to the streets demanding her release.
A Mexican Cartel Leader's Daughter Broke Into A Government Building To Film A Music Video
In 2014, an armed militia was battling cartel gunmen for control of the Mexican state of Michoacan when they stumbled across some juicy celebrity gossip. Apparently the Mexican grupero singer Melissa was none other than the daughter of Enrique Plancarte Solis, a top leader in the notoriously violent Knights Templar cartel. It's kind of like Hannah Montana, if you replaced Billy Ray Cyrus with Tony Soprano. The militia briefly became the Perez Hiltons of Mexico, with a Facebook post alleging that Enrique had spent millions funding Melissa's music career.
Enrique later died of natural causes (being riddled with bullets in a massive shootout with the Mexican navy), but that didn't hurt his daughter's career much, at least judging by her Instagram account, where she continued to post pictures of her obscenely luxurious lifestyle. These included shots of armed bodyguards and pet tigers, because apparently nobody in the cartel world has ever heard of a nice guinea pig. The self-proclaimed "Barbie Grupera" even posed in a sexy Knights Templar outfit, which is a sentence that should give you at least four different kinds of stress headache.
But Melissa's biggest controversy came when eagle-eyed viewers noticed that one of her music videos appeared to have been shot in Michoacan's old Palace of Justice. The government strongly denied giving her permission to film there, suggesting that she basically broke in to shoot the video. Which is a pretty hardcore move for something with so much tuba music.
The video features Melissa dancing with a handsome man and showing off her trademark move of awkwardly swaying in one spot while the camera frantically cuts around her like Jason Bourne is about to burst in. Anyway, this seems like the entry on this list most likely to end in my murder, so let's just say that I don't necessarily have the cultural background to understand Melissa's music. Certainly she remained popular enough in Mexico for her wedding to be broadcast on Telemundo in 2015. She now has a young child and has transitioned smoothly into Chrissy-Teigen-style family Instagram shots, firmly establishing her as a monster.
A Russian Billionaire's Son Made A Music Video Parodying His Role In Russiagate
Aras Aglarov is an Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire with close ties to the Putin government and Donald Trump. Emin Aglarov is his son, an aspiring pop star with close ties to whoever designs the outfits for Kidz Bop videos. As someone with the looks of a Don Jr. and the raw sexual charisma of an Eric, Emin naturally believes he's a musical superstar in the making. And I'm sad to report that Russia has been cruelly indulging him in this fantasy for far too long, even though his musical style most closely resembles Seth MacFarlane really half-assing a Charlie Puth parody.
While not churning out chart-adjacent hits, Emin is an executive at his father's company, and was formerly married to the daughter of Azerbaijan's long-serving president. He's not afraid to pull strings to help his pop career, and is one of the few artists able to boast a song "ft. Donald Trump," although you'll be sad to learn that the Donald merely says his "You're fired" catchphrase rather than breaking into verse.
Emin met the future president when his father and Trump partnered to host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Part of the deal was that Emin got to sing during the ceremony, much to the horror of NBC executives, who were apparently unimpressed by a quaver-voiced trust fund baby fighting a losing battle with his own backing track for what feels like seven hours. Despite that grueling performance, Emin still allegedly found time to offer Trump prostitutes while he was in Russia for the pageant. What a pro!
Emin would probably have remained an embarrassing footnote in a whole museum of embarrassing footnotes, but Trump is president now and the ripple effects have made everything stupid. Emin, you see, is the guy who arranged the infamous Trump Tower meeting where Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Don Jr. met with some shady Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. This became a major subject of the Mueller investigation, and Emin responded with all the grace and dignity you'd expect. He hired Donald, Stormy Daniels, and Ivanka Trump impersonators and made a music video parodying his role in the whole affair.
The video also features Hillary Clinton doing shots, a terrible Mark Zuckerberg impersonator cavorting with Miss Universe contestants, and for some reason everyone ends up playing poker while Kim Jong-un watches via hidden camera. Which probably is all just dumb comedy, but based on Emin's track record, this might actually be a full confession to the dumbest political scandal ever.
America's Wealthiest Techno-Loving Sex Freak Made An Insanely Racist Music Video
Ivan Wilzig inherited a massive fortune from his tycoon father, which he has used to enjoy a lifestyle of "sex, drugs, and techno ... every night for 15 years." The self-proclaimed "Sir Ivan" is known for hosting extravagant orgies at his sprawling "castle" in the Hamptons. It's hard to capture the level of decadence on display there, and the average article about him careens through whiplash-inducing phrases like "cocaine and glitter residue," "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack," and "supported by professional dancers ... in his pink peace sign cape." He's like a late-term Roman emperor filtered through a '70s porno.
But Wilzig isn't just content to live life as the villain in an educational film about herpes. He believes he holds the secret to world peace, and is on a mission to share that vision through his music. He's been spending a small fortune on this music career, which mostly consists of techno covers of '70s hits, including at least a dozen versions of John Lennon's "Imagine." They are perfectly awful, like Plan 9 From Outer Space or every single TikTok. Here he is in "Hare Krishna":
And then there's "I Am Peaceman," which tries to inspire audiences to "turn those guns into peace signs." You'll be pleased to hear that inspiring message is best communicated by finding a woman with huge breasts, then writing "peace" on them in glow-in-the-dark paint.
But best/worst of all is the appalling "Kumbaya," in which Sir Ivan is enjoying a nice beach vacation when he's disturbed by a group of black people in grass skirts fighting with spears. Sir Ivan immediately throws on a sweet cape and appears on a nearby hill, doing something that might legally be considered singing. At which point everybody is so moved they stop fighting and have a dance party, which naturally turns into a big orgy. Wilzig says this was intended to be at least partly about genocide in Africa.
Ivan later released a follow-up video in which the "Kumbaya" director clarifies that the video is not racist, and that Sir Ivan merely wished to "end the black-on-black genocide taking place in Africa and elsewhere around the world." This point is illustrated by cutting to a clip of Ivan hugging one of the dancers from the video.
To be fair, Sir Ivan definitely meant well, and was being sincere when he said he hoped the video would help resolve the situation in Darfur. Sure, it would be preferable if he spent more money on charity and less on unbelievably expensive capes, but considering the ill will that many rich people apparently have for humanity, it's not the worst thing in the world to see Ivan happily putting out music videos wherein he pretends to save gay kids from bullies while dressed like a pimp.
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