Article: Black Culture and Hip-Hop


Hip hop was so inevitably intertwined with black culture that society has trouble identifying them as two different entities. Hip hip is a form of musical entertainment. It has now become one of the most universal genres. In opposition with its original intent, hip hop music no longer unifies only African Americans. Its scope has broadened to appeal to pop music lovers. For accumulating a variety of listeners and for a bigger bank , the values of hip hop has changed.Though hip hop spans across different cultures, the listeners who can identify with this music are typically black.

The emergence of rap was a product of systematic backlash. Throughout history, blacks have sought to speak out against  injustices in some form of expression. From sit-ins,  marches, political organizations, and black art movements, African Americans have defined their culture while surviving in the twentieth century.

The youth has participated in these movements as well but has had the largest impact on the creation of Hip hop generation. During this period,  cocaine use, gang violence, and police brutality caused terror and dysfunction throughout America. States amongst the east and west coast, areas with large dense populations, and poor black cities were affected the most. Hip hop music became popular because it revealed common griefs and struggles amongst this race. N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) pioneer the trend of rapping about controversial topics like gang violence , drugs, and sex. This notion was critical to blacks gaining a voice in the entertainment industry. However, in the process, death rates and incarceration were sad consequences to blacks trying to obtain quick wealth. Petty crimes, unfair trials, the lack of employment opportunities and government recognition,  kept many Blacks in poverty and searching for a way out.  Societal stereotypes were burdens as well.

The “Gangsta”, “video vixen,” ” drug dealer,” images are evident in music videos, movies, and T.V shows. Individuals unfamiliar with black culture correlate these figures with casual observations of reality. By the twenty-first century, Hip hop was pronounced “dead.” In some artists attempt to revive it, the music genre has transformed. For others, they have simply re-invented or sampled the style of rap legends and added a new flare. Auto tune, futuristic beats, or even label gimmicks has drawn enough attention to contribute to this thriving music industry.

Hip hop is now central to popular culture in America. Rap now influences dance, clothes, drugs and the ideology of our youth for all ethnicities. The media has been crucial to its broad influence.
Artists who make their music “mainstream” has essentially “crossed over.”  The songs of these artists are requested and heard constantly over the radio. The same videos are aired on multiple channels because they portray a flashy lifestyle that seems prosperous to our youth . Materialistic glam with a mixture of individualistic ideals gives the artist leeway to cross over by creating an image outside rap. “Crossing over” means to change the style of ones musical image to resemble other genres and attract more listeners.
For example, the artist Lil Wayne began incorporating rock music into his songs to market and separate himself from competing labels. Young Money, G.O.O.D Music, Maybach Music Group, Taylor Gang, and Roc Nation are labels dominating mainstream. Each are defined by certain motifs that are exposed in their albums and appearances. These groups are now global celebrities. While underground artists without gimmicks are having trouble being heard. Conscious rappers are also criticized for being too serious or for preaching in their music. Why? Because it does not sell.
Artists acknowledge the controversy of succeeding in this form of entertainment: they know the integrity of hip hop music is sometimes compromised. Artist  Erykah Badu tweets her disappointment with hip hop:
“How ya’ll gone stand by and let our music turn into pop techno cornball ass music?” she questioned. “We don’t own our own music no more. Come to think of it, did we EVER own it?”
This thought provoking tweet stems a couple of questions and realizations. Does the consumer or the artist have more power in hip hop? And, Is it really a part of black culture anymore? As for now, the hip hop debate continues..
By Brianna Nechelle
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