â€œThe quality of lyrics eventually came to be dictated by record labels unfortunately, in order to move CDâ€™s off the shelf rather than move people for change.â€ Smith and Jackson: The Hip-Hop Church, 2005.
Now people! Weâ€™re approach the nuclei of our discussion as we look into how the exploitation of Hip Hop via Record labels paved the way for critics to draw parallels between Hip Hop culture and youth crime. It began with rap and slowly other Hip Hop elements followed. Join me as I explore how and why.
By the 1990â€™s, Hip Hopâ€™s influence over young people became apparent to advertisers and mainstream record labels. Soon after rap was exposed in pop world, attire was next which is evident via artists like Run DMC. Their Adidas trainers with no shoe strings were a trademark for them. It was reported that at a concert in Madison Square Garden, Run told the crowd to put their Adidasâ€™ in the air, and they obeyed. When the concert was over, an Adidas rep was waiting with an endorsement deal.
The commercial movement gave artists licence to expand in their â€˜artâ€™ into â€˜businessesâ€™ as weâ€™ve seen via P.Diddyâ€™s clothing line â€˜Sean Johnâ€™ and his new â€˜unforgivableâ€™ fragrance (he said it, not me) .
Whether artists become involved in Hip Hop for the love of the culture or the love of money, brings about confusion for the up and coming generation who aspire to be like their commercial â€˜role modelsâ€™ and concern for those with a genuine love for Hip Hop who witness the destruction corporate mentality has on the art.
Hip Hop analyst Dwight Macdonald, once said: â€œMass Culture, is at best a vulgarized reflection of High Culture.â€ Hip Hop was once a culture catering to a niche, urbanised, ethnic society but in order to sell records in their thousands, it stretched out to cultures who had little understanding of the custom but were willing to buy the records as a form of rebellion towards their suburban society which created opportunity for commercialisation and glamorisation of materialism and violence.
The negative effects of commercialised Hip Hop and totalitarianism is problematic for a whole range of youths from diverse backgrounds with lack of understanding of Hip Hopâ€™s original form. With this in mind, it would appear that the corruption of youth culture would reside amongst the commercial primary consumers.
To summarise, the corporate worldâ€™s aim to create a mass culture is where the problem lies. Yes, culture was created for and by humans, but the fact remains, culture was formed for a specific people with specific understanding and appreciation. The totalitarian approach record labels, advertisers, etc have, eliminates the niche society, generates stereotypes for Hip Hop society, and glamorises violence and misogyny- the very things Hip Hop was initially designed to speak against.
Some may agree with my conclusion, some beg to differ. Regardless, let me know what you think by posting your comments.
Next week Iâ€™ll be walking further along the Hip Hop timeline and discussing â€˜The Gangster Fairytale.â€™