Hip Hop is a genre of music that originated in Western America in the 1960’s and was brought to New York City in the 1970’s by slaves. Today Hip Hop has become a recognised art form that has become a global culture.
Characterised by a rhythmic vocal style where the artist speaks in rhymes and or a rhythmic manner, Hip Hop has become a medium for the artist to express himself freely and with limited rules. It unifies elements of rapping, graffiti, dancing and deejaying thereby initiating an urban culture encompassing fashion, lifestyle, dancing, music elements and language.
Since Jamaican born DJ Chris Campbell or “Kool Herc” the first hip hop DJ and pioneer of the hip hop culture introduced Hip Hop to the world it created a movement whereby people of different beliefs, cultures, races, ethnicities and gender were brought together and hip hop became a medium for young people to express themselves individually and collectively. It became an alternative to the violent gang culture of the Bronx and transformed crime, violence, social decay and economic crisis into something positive by giving a voice to the voiceless.
But the future of hip hop is changing at a rapid pace. Artists such as Tyga are shunning the major record labels and instead are shopping around for a partnership between the artist and major consumer brand companies. The future of such hip-hop artists is not with Def Jam or Sony Records, it is with the likes of major brands such as Coca-Cola, RIM Blackberry or Ford Motor Company. Before the online age, it was every aspiring hip-hop artist’s dream to sign the record label deal, get the advance money, make a lavish music video and see your album sell millions of copies.
Those dreams have long since disappeared, being replaced by a sense of commercialism unprecedented in the music industry. With the emergence of online distribution, the record label is becoming less and less attractive and artists are turning elsewhere to find the funding necessary to launch and promote an album.
It is no secret that hip-hop has turned to the millions of promotional and media dollars that consumer brand companies possess in order to help underwrite album promotional costs. You might say that the soul of hip hop is being sold out to commercialism. You may ask whether the future of hip-hop rest in the hands of Corporate America. I don’t believe so, as long as the hip hop artists are selective in terms of the promotions that they undertake, and not simply chase the money. Hip-hop has always been a tale of survival and in these trying times for the music industry it is definitely survival of the fittest. You may just see a lot more “sponsored” music, with the corporate world driving artists to produce albums according to their own marketing schedule, and being swept up into a greater strategic corporate marketing effort.
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