Hip-Hop: The Marketing Of A New Culture Essay, Research Paper
The Marketing of a New Culture
1 May 2000
Thesis: Hip-Hop?s has lost its original goal of wanting to unite people, today it’s a way to market violence.
I. Hip-Hop started in the west Bronx in the early 1970s.
A. Hip-Hop wasn?t excepted mainstream until 1979.
B. The first known Hip-Hop group was The Sugarhill Gang.
II. As the 80s began more people became aware of the culture that was now known as Hip-Hop
A. It started as a positive thing to unite underprivileged kids.
1. There was a song like ?Stop the Violence.?
2. Public Enemy and other groups encouraged listeners to stop eating beef.
B. Hip-Hop was looked upon by the adult world as dangerous and evil.
C. Hip-Hop crossed with pop culture when Aerosmith and Run DMC teamed up, opening up to a new group of listeners.
III. During the late 80s Hip-Hop took a violent turn.
A. NWA came out and threatened law enforcement.
B. Urban anger came out with Public Enemy?s ?Fight the Power.?
IV. Marketing increased.
A. Suddenly white suburbia was introduced to Hip-Hop
B. MTV started Yo’ MTV Raps
C. Two Harvard students started the Source magazine
1. Opening up a new market for Hip-Hop culture, it was a way for companies to promote the ?new looks? for kids interested in Hip-hop.
V. By the 90s Hip-hop had hit the mainstream.
A. MC Hammer came out to the pop culture with ?Can?t touch this?
B. By the end of 1990 sales exceeded 100 million
C. White rappers like Vanilla Ice were introduced to grab more of a suburbia audience.
D. The music was becoming more of a catchy hook and a dressed up rapper than what it once was, a way to change political views.
VI. Hip- Hop expanded into all areas of music.
A. Public Enemy and Anthrax joined together to re-record ? Bring in the Noise.?
B. White Rapper Marky Mark came out.
C. 14 year old groups like Kris Kross were introduced.
VII. Movies and Television were affected by this new culture.
A. Kid n Play came out with a string of movies called House Party.
B. Will Smith became the ?Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.?
C. Rappers turned actors in ?New Jack City,? and ?Boyz in the Hood.? Glorifying the street life of “gangstas.”
VIII. Rap proves its marketability.
A. Tupac Shukar starred in Juice, with a hit soundtrack.
B. The Source had begun to market the ?new sneakers,? and gear for streetwear.
IV. Hip-Hop has become a money hungry market, that has no concern for the children that it once broke out to protect.
A. Hard-core thugs like Jay-Z have gone from BET, to Nickelodeon.
B. Sean Combs, has started a brand new way to market to audiences of all ages, not having any concerning that his music is inappropriate to the children that he is trying to market to.
C. It isn?t about the music anymore, hip hop started out as mixing beats and lyrics over old ones.
1. It?s now a way to market to all ages, start new trends.
2. It?s exposing children that are way to young to understand about violence, sex, and drugs.
D. When stars of one culture and scene expose children of a different upbringing it creates havoc.
1. It glorifies violence, the use of drugs, and twists the images of money.
Hip-Hop: The Marketing of a New Culture
Hip-hop was started to lead the youth of today in a positive direction. Today hip-hop has lost its original goal of being a positive influence in peoples lives, and it has just become a way to market violence.
Hip-hop was born in the west Bronx of New York in the early 1970s. It was born as a way for inner city kids without a lot of options to express their anger at society through music.(Margolis) One explanation for the birth of hip-hop, as explained by author Ronin Ro, was that it was partly created in the South Bronx to counter act his birthplace?s gang violence:
Hip-Hop was seen as a form that would inspire political change; we all believed that rap performers breaking barriers on shows like American Bandstand and Soul Train, and hearing our music in commercials for Polly-O String Cheese and Flintstones Fruity Pebbles was merely the first step to running the old folks out of office and replacing them with our political representatives, the Chuck D?s, Rakims, and KRS-Ones. Rap albums were selling in the millions, MTV was kissing rappers? asses, a worldwide audience formed and the music was filled with nothing but hope. Hip-Hop would empower the inner city; we didn?t see its perversion into the more ?marketable? ?hood coming. We were going to be galvanized by art not demonized(??) In our own way, we were as idealistic as the hippies of the sixties, and we truly believed that everything would be alright; we would listen to our music, learn our history and unite to become a political force to be reckoned with. (3)
However, it wasn?t considered mainstream until 1979, when The Sugarhill Gang released ?Rapper?s Delight,? which is generally considered the first commercial rap record. (Perkins 5) It was viewed as a novelty record because it introduced the world to the new noise that was coming from the streets of New York.(Nelson, Gonzalez xviii) One authors explanation on why hip-hop took so long to become mainstream is that:
The invasion was a slow process. For many years the major record companies and media agents made rap music and hip-hop culture into forbidden fruit: Anyone who touched or took a bite was tainted. Record companies masked their racism by stating that no one was interested in buying this Black thang. By claiming hip-hop was an underground movement whose low-income followers couldn?t afford to buy records, the mainstream music industry could justify not signing any rap acts.(Nelson, Gonzales xix)
As the nineteen eighties began more people became aware of the culture that was now beginning to be known as hip-hop. Boogie Down Productions, and Public Enemy urged audiences to stop eating beef, wear more natural hairstyles, and learn about their history. Public Enemy even came out with a song entitled, ?Stop the Violence,? which impelled its listeners to live in peace. ( Ro 2) The new sound was starting to mix with pop-culture when Aerosmith and Run-DMC teamed up together, allowing hip-hop to open up to a whole new set of demographics. (Robinson )One of the more popular pop groups of the time was Blondie, and the band?s leaders Deborah Harry and Chris Stein recorded ?Rapture.? It was a pop song which included a rap interlude. At the same time, graffiti artists were being shown in New York?s SoHo galleries. Hip-hop was being seen as hip.( Sexton 6)
Then somewhere during the late eighties, hip-hop took a negative turn. It started in 1988 with NWA?s album Straight Outta Compton. The first three tracks released in addition to its title track , were titled, ?Fuck Tha Police,? ?Gangsta, Gangsta? and ? If It Ain?t Ruff.? (Nelson, Gonzalez 167). The group publicized their anti-police stance.( Ro 114) Andre ?Dr. Dre? Young, from the NWA crew never dreamed that Straight Outta
Compton would change hip-hop and American youth, and told author Ronin Ro that, now
that it has, he regrets it. Ronin Ro, a well known writer for the Source, and his own book Gangsta, says:
that if you simply glance at the rise in murders reported in your local newspaper, you?ll see how the drive-bys and jackings mentioned by NWA years ago have
become a full-scale reality, to the point where these quaint slang terms have now been incorporated into the English language(?.)Fourteen kids (age nineteen and under) will be killed in gun accidents, suicides, or homicides before sunset. (For this age group, murder rate has increased 125 percent between 1984 and 1990.) Not even natural diseases combined can equal the annual number of teenage deaths attributed to firearms. One out of every 28 Black males born is likely to be murdered; for whites, the ratio can equal the annual number by one of your own: 1990 saw 93 percent of Black murder victims killed by other Blacks. (Ro 5)
Now an anger against authority was the popular thing to do in hip-hop. Even Public
Enemy decided to venture into this new ?gangsta? sound with ?Fight the Power,? in
1989.( Nelson, Gonzales 183)
Even though some hip-hop was launching negative views on its audiences, it was growing stronger. Marketing increased. The deep rooted ideas of drug pushing, car jacking, and black on black crimes was being overlooked. Two Harvard undergrads started a flyer called The Source, running it out of their dorm room. (Robinson ). As one writer who writes for them from time to time, Ronin Ro describes The Source as being:
just another way to promote albums and stereotypes than to reveal the truth and urge their predominantly black audience to pursue more positive paths. (5)
MTV joined in this phenomena when they introduced Yo? MTV Raps, a program that aired rap videos and promoted the hip-hop movement. It proved to be one of their top rated shows. (Sexton 230) White suburbia was being introduced to hip-hop.
By the nineteen nineties hip-hop had hit mainstream. MC Hammer came out to the pop-culture with ?Can?t Touch This.? And by the end of 1990, hip-hop sales exceeded $100 million. (Robinson) There were now white rappers like Marky Mark, and
Vanilla Ice that were huge hits on the pop-charts.(Nelson, Gonzales 268) Even 14 year old groups like Kris Kross were being marketed through the music industry. (Robinson) Hip-hop was characterized by catchy hooks and dressed-up rappers, the opposite of what it once was meant to be. (Ro 3)
Movies and Television were affected by this new culture and the economic reality involved with hip-hip was very clear. Hip-hop jumped into living rooms. Hip-hop?s bubble gum rapper, Will Smith, (who is known for not using any kind of foul language in his music) was signed to star in the television show ? The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? which debuted on NBC, and is now in syndication. (Robinson) Kid ?n Play, a well-known rap duo, appeared on the silver screen with Houseparty, which grossed over $20 million at the box office.( Nelson, Gonzales 124) Rap artists quickly turned into actors in movies like Boyz in the Hood and New Jack City, glorifying the street life of gangstas. Making soundtracks to go along with the films, as Tupac Shakur did for Juice (a movie in which he starred), proved to be economically beneficial.(Robinson)
The industry started to reach out to more markets of demographics. Rapper Vanilla Ice appeared in the much anticipated sequel to the popular children?s film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Loud Records chairman Steven Mind says that:
Rap has become more universal and sophisticated. It?s not just for one audience anymore. And acts like Jay-Z, TLC, and Lauryn Hill have taken it to that net level without leaving their base-the streets.(Mitchell)
The title track of Jay-Z?s 1998 album Hard Knock Life Vol..II played over pop radio
stations nation-wide. Jay-Z?s music is mostly about his conflicts with other ?gangstas.?
For the most part his lyrics are about possessions. He is known to be very specific on
what kind of car he drives, what watch he wears, and so on. (Mitchell) Jay-Z?s 52 city tour was the first tour like it in music history. He sold over 600,000 tickets, selling-out concerts across the country.(Robinson) Sean ?Puffy? Combs has performed his tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G, ?I?ll Be Missing You,? on Nickelodeon?s Kids Choice Awards, along with MTV Music Awards. He was reaching out to two completely different audiences, with the same music.(Robinson)
Sean ?Puff Daddy? Combs, head of Bad Boy entertainment, has branched out to advertise for such names as Calvin Klein, Coke, Pepsi, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger. He thinks that it?s inspirational to the kids, because they want what they see on TV; that because they believe in brands, their making choices as a group. There are some positive aspects involved. Puffy claims that he is trying to reject ?ethnic? labels, that the youth of America has no color, so that it?s all colors. (McCarthy 1) Most hip-hop groups say that they believe that pushing products does not make them a ?sellout? to their music or to listeners. Advertising for companies is considered almost a trophy to the hip-hop world. Run D.M.C was ?proud? of its deal with Coca-Cola; for them it meant that they had made it. (McCarthy 1).
Once hip-hop started sampling, taking old beats and mixing them with new lyrics, to become a part of the mainstream pop-culture, it wasn?t about the positive influence over the youth of today. Hip-hop just became another way to market to all ages, a way to
start new trends. It has exposed children to violence, sex and drugs before they are old enough to understand their real consequences. Hip-hop has definitely become a part of American society today. It has glorified violence, the use of drugs, and has twisted the image of money to all its diverse audiences.
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