Once a political force on wax, depicting the dreams aspirations and despair in the black community hip hop culture in the music form of rap is nothing more than commercialized pop music. If you can agree that hip hop music is the most popular form of music in the United States then you must cede that it is indeed pop. All the MC’s who criticized MC’s for going commercial because they feared the degradation and authenticity in the music must now be given credit for being right!
If today’s hip-hop music had a storefront it would be a Starbucks, Gap and Wal-mart. The same wherever you go. How did this happen?
Who is to blame? Of course blame should be spread around. But you should probably start first with the record execs. Although now few in number due to media consolidation they want the bottom line which is making money. The record companies want a single with a catchy hook, that can land on the radio station’s rotation where they play the same damn songs over and over and over again. Until it gets beat into your head that you like that song. Which leads us to the music directors at radio stations. They allegedly do not get paid to play songs on the radio. But what could account for certain artists breaking through getting radio play and other artist just as talented or talent-less depending on who you ask get radio play. Record execs often promise the radio stations artist for promotional shows and summer jams in exchange for air-play or breaking in a new artist.
The other problem with media consolidation is that the same companies own the same radio stations all over the country. There is no more regional diversity in music especially hip hop music. The local rap artist in DC or Charlotte will have almost no chance of getting air time in there local market without the backing of a major label. Radio station giants Clear Channel and Black owned Radio One own an arsenal of radio stations enough to influence the market and record sales.
I’m not denying that artist should get paid for there hard word but we cannot forget that MTV was forced to play Michael Jackson videos because they feared his then black ass. Speaking of videos, gone are the creative and political videos of Public Enemy’s Night of The Living Baseheads or Black Steele in the Hour of Chaos or Boogie Down’s Love’s Gonna Get’cha. Today the videos are a celebration of alcohol, naked women, and a celebration of the pimp lifestyle, which is at its core to make money from the prostitution of women. I know, high culture political art at its best. There is an entire industry for these video ho’s I mean models. It is troubling how these ignorant “MCs” continue to perpetuate a negative black male stereotype. The only thing missing from these videos is the watermelon and fried chicken. It is an extreme understatement to say that most hip-hop videos are demeaning toward women particularly black women. This has been written on many times over and I will not go into detail here.
Hip Hop Influence
Will hip-hop music have to destroy itself in order to save itself. Its influence is so great that it influences the world’s biggest sports star David Beckham (although he is relatively unknown here in the U.S. he is a big soccer (futbol) star throughout the world). Beckham is white and so is the artist who sold the most rap albums over the past few years one named Eminem. The creativity and djing skills originating in hip hop in the hardcore form are best being exhibited by drum & bass and jungle common at underground Rave’s mostly young white audiences. Hip Hop music is everywhere from commercials to Television sitcoms. But gone are the days where an artist is bold enough to go on wax and say ‘Fuck The Police’. Has hip-hop music achieved the status of a trendy fad that it has worked over 25 years to avoid?
No one can deny the influence of hip-hop music and hip-hop culture. But where is it going. That is the issue. Will it continue to grow as a commercial chain store or will it recapture the passion and edge of the early years. Will hip-hop political activism continue to grow or will it die due to a hip-hop generation in pursuit of bling above the political brass ring.
The popularity of hip-hop is a double-edged sword, make money and be true to the art form. Since the inception of hip hop these inconsistent doctrines have been at war with the other. With political dissent in music being silenced in other forms and radio station and record companies not wanting to risk a drop in there publicly traded shares due to bad publicity. This war had all but ended. As long as it remains in vogue to put out a dance track with a catchy hook and stay clear of controversy hip-hop will remain outside of its true mission to stir up the masses and scare the shit out of the power elite.