The early 1970’s was the beginning of the era of Hip-Hop inpost segregation America.
It was the time where African Americans found theirvoice, found their place in the world that wasn’t in the chains of the whiteman. Hip Hop essentially gave African Americans visibility in a time ofshrouded racism and national racial injustice (Bikari Kitwana, 2008). Fast forward 50 years and Hip Hop is noweverywhere and it is no longer just a music genre, it’s a business, a lifestyle and even a culture. But at what cost? It all started withClive Campbell now known as Kool DJ Herc, who pioneered breakbeat Djing; by usingtwo turntables he isolated the beginning of the break of funk record on oneturntable and then mixed it with a break from another record essentiallycreating a loop of beats calling it the Merry-go-round (Munday 2017). Throughthis came about breakdancing and MCing quintessential attributes to Hip Hopthen and now. Although Campbell pioneered Hip-Hop he never really made asuccess of it, and was essentially over took by Grandmaster Flash (JosephSaddler) and Afrika Bambaataa (Kevin Donovan). A key aspect of Hip Hop that is overlooked in today is themeaning behind it all.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
60’s/70’s African Americans were the first generationbrought up in desecrated America and thus where able to achieve more comparedto their ancestors however racial tensions was still critical. There was atremendous amount of police brutality as well as neighbourhood poverty as wellas the CIA and FBI involvement in the black and Hispanic community, especiallywhen it came to the Black Panther party. It was quintessential that somethingwas created out of nothing. Gang violence was prominent and took over thestreets of the Bronx, it was chaos and something needed to be desperately done.So Bambaataa took it upon himself to merge all the street gangs and created theyouth organisation called ‘Zulu Nation’. Bambaataa was instrumental in stoppinga lot of gang violence convincing the Black Spades (one of the Bronx’s mostnotorious gangs) to aid him in the creation of the Zulu NationFor about 9 years Hip Hop was still in its rawest form until1979. In this year, Hip Hops most notorious rap group The furious 5 weretouring the world whilst back in the states something revolutionary happened.Rappers delight; Hip Hops first recorded record a side from bootlegged tapsthat where more often than not extremely popular in the black community.
Rappers delight not only changed the way thenation perceived Hip Hop but it also came #36 on billboard. Hip Hop on Waxchanged everything and would Hip Hop be the same had Rappers delight had notbeen recorded most likely not. SylviaRobinson who was in already in the music industry from a young age founded alabel ‘All Platinum Records’ which began to have financial problems mid 70’s.
Having been invited to a party in Harlem Robbins heard Rap for the first timeand knew immediately that this would save her business and did exactly that.Due to the records popularity, record labels and industry professional did whatthey do best, capitalised and copied because to them Rap was just a novelty.Rodney Dangerfield released a comedy album called ‘Rapping Rodney’ which earnedhim a Grammy for the best comedy recording (SongFacts). It is very clear to note that industry professionals fromthe beginning did not regard Hip Hop as a serious art from. In turn they mockedrap by creating a mainstream form of comedy rap that reduced Hip Hop of itsmeaning. This is something that is arguably seen in today’s music industry.Essentially Rappers Delight made anybody think they could Rap and so they did.
Hip Hop was oversaturated and began to look like a cliché. What saved Hip Hop, was when Afrika Bambaataa took Hip Hopto downtown New York essentially merging punk rock with Hip Hop. Punk rock wasthe alternative to rock and Hip Hop was the alternative to disco so essentiallyboth worlds came into a beautiful union.
This opened up a whole new market forHip Hop and its early pioneers because they went from playing in the ghetto toplaying in punk rock clubs full of privileged white teens. This also gavepioneers like Flash and Bambaataa an opportunity to expand their recordcollection and they in turn discovered rock legends like the Beatles, Rolling stones,Sex Pistols etc. Flash especially was fortunate to have met Blondie who subsequentlywrote the song ‘Rapture’ about him after having heard him play a set; ”Flashis fast Flash is cool” (Genius, 2012). One of the many reasons why Hip Hop became popular in thattime was because of artists like Blondie who was one of the world’s most iconicand alternative white people who brought into the new black phenomenon and thusintroducing Hip Hop to the mainstream. Due to this, its argued that because of these early alliances afro Americanisationhas become more prominent in white youth as they imitate styles of walking andtalking which slightly reduced racial tensions, however ironically in thispresent moment it is that black youth are being murdered and imprisoned inrecord numbers even if their styles have become disproportionally influentialin shaping popular culture today (Bakari Kitwana, 2008)Fast-forward 5 years Hip Hop no longer just consisted ofjust Dj’s, MC (master of ceremony) took over and have essentially been at theforefront of Hip Hop today. RAP (Rhythm, Arte & Poetry) is one of Hip Hop’smain component as it had been created to be the voice for the poorestcommunities. MCs from poor areas used the rap music to speak about theirexperience with gang violence, drugs and police brutality. In late 1980’s a rapgroup called N.
W.A emerged and were one of the pioneers of Gangster Rap and arestill highly looked up to today. Gangster is rap is primarily a type of music thathas been argued by white critics that is this sort of music that encouragesstreet and gang violence. This is because lyrically this from of Hip Hopincorporates strong and violent imagery for an example in the song ‘GanstaGansta’ by N.W.A they say: ” Since I was a youth, I smoked weed out, now I’mthe mothafucka that you read about, takin’ a life or two, that’s what the hellI do.” (Genius, 2014)The large minority were able to identify with their musicthey essentially became one of the most successful groups of Hip Hop whichplayed a monumental role on the development of Hip Hop. Songs as such ”FuckThe Police” which is arguable one of their most popular songs explores the brutalityby police to young African American men became an anthem in the blackcommunities.
With their massive success and release of their gold albumStraight Outta Compton sold over 750,000 copies before touring (Serpick). In1991 N.W. A’s album ‘N****z for Life’ sold over 954,000 copies in its firstweek of release, reaching #1 on the pop charts.
This not only made themmillionaires, it made them global superstars thus paving the way for futureartists who would have never had that opportunity to do so. This was thebeginning of the emergence of a multitude of MC’s.Most Rappers today have the aspirations of securing a recorddeal which is understandable considering the wealth of other musicians howeverthis is because of their ignorance to record labels as there is a misconceptionthat for example a £1 million record deal means that the artists will get £1 million,which is in fact not at all what record deals mean. What record labels are inlaments terms saying is that they are prepared to back an artist in terms ofstudio time, producers, advertising etc. which a large portion of the dealcovers that. Nevertheless, artist do receive is an advance which is typically aroundto 50-100k region. What artist do not know is that if their careers fail totake off they have to pay that money back. (Allen, 2010).
Now, let’s say thatthe artists career does gain traction, they will not be required to pay theadvance back however they will be required to sign a contract that states thatthey cannot record for another label nor can they leave the contract if theyare not happy. An example of this iswhen Pop star Kesha formally signed to Kemosabe Record, sued producer Dr Lukefor sexual, verbal and physical abuse and was not subsequently able to leaveher record deal which stated that she released 6 records (Vincent, 2017). Regardlessof ongoing legal battles and mental torture Kesha was still required to makeher remaining records with the label and still have Dr Luke as her producer.
Tiggie Hawke, a UK pop artists was neverexploited to this extent but understands how easy it is for other artists canbe manipulated. She said ” I don’t necessarily think record labels exploitartists because my record label Platoon don’t push me into doing anything Idon’t want to do. They give me a lot of creative control so I guess in thatsense I’m lucky because there are so many cases where record labels force orpush an artist into a certain direction.’ This strongly indicates how moneydriven record labels are and how they do not care for the wellbeing andcreativity of their artists. In some cases, record labels force artists torelease music just for the sake of releasing music not really caring about thelyrical content unless it goes against their company agenda. Although, it should be noted that recordlabels annually invest over $4.5 billion worldwide in artists thus meaning thatas a business they need to make returns and profits in their investments(IFPI). The main problem with record labels today is that they donot spend the time to develop artists like they used to.
Dave Hewitt a formermember of the 70’s rock band Babe Ruth said: “I think record labels have alwaysbeen small minded because they want to sign certain things because that’s whatthey thing represents their label and what will sell.” It is now more evidentthan ever that record labels are no longer in it for the music, it is now moreabout the profit. Even Hip Hop legends have Sercombe to this new wave of existenceas it is even shown in their lyrical content. Lyrically now rappers talk moreabout money, women and drugs in their music for an example Kendrick Lamar saysin his hit track ‘Money Trees’, is the perfect place for shade and that’s justhow I feel, nah, nah.” Krept and Konan, UK based duo also joined this wave ofrap and also said in one of their most successful singles ‘Freak of the Week’,”she is the freak of the week, now everybody sees, she is the freak of theweek.” (Genius, 2016). Now it should be noted that although lyrically Hip Hophas evolved to mumble rapping which is a subgenre of Hip Hop, pioneered by WizKhalifa in 2010and poor content, this lucrative industry makes over $10 Billiona year alone (Landoli, 2016). With how lucrative the music industry has become it has beenmore common at how many independent record labels have surfaced.
ShannonKnowles, a UK based business man from Birmingham has the hopes of opening uphis own record label in the hopes of getting more youths of the streets ofBirmingham, hoping that he will not only help his community but also make largeamounts of money. He said; “, I love music without music what would the we be?I’m starting off with my studio and after I get that on steady ground then I’mgoing to create my own independent record label, but I know this all takes timeand I’ve got a lot to learn. Between thetwo I want manage artists which is the most important aspect of all of this.Where I live Birmingham no one has the money to do anything let alone book anhour in a studio and around here the best deal I got was £60 for 1 track. Not alot of people have that kind of money for 3 minutes. So my plan is to signartists and I will let them use my studio for free.
” On top of lyrical content, Hip Hop now also endorsesfashion, as it has become a big market for Hip Hop. This is the result ofartists wanting to make money outside of their labels. Footwear is especiallylinked in to Hip Hop as the public desire to be like the celebrates but atcheaper prices. Joseph Kennedy a manager at Foot Locker in Bradford said:”Hip-hop and clothing goes hand in hand. It’s the swagger that rappers havethat most people want. It like we want to live like them but at consumer pricesand these rappers make a lot of money from this. Counties like China and Japanhave a love for these styles of fashion.
” Fundamentally, Hip Hop and fashion complement each other as both are formsof expression and it should be noted that the evolution of fashion merging intoHip Hop is considered one of the purest changes of Hip Hop compared toeverything else. Hip Hop, a form of music that has evolved to be one of thebiggest aspects of life now will continue to evolve, whether it be throughfashion or its content, however this comes at a cost not only to the genreitself but also through the artist themselves and if the world continues to bemoney orientated this will not change but will only worsen. In light of this,Hip Hop still continues to be the greatest attribute that came out oftremendous equality. Hip Hop not only shows the defiance of the human naturewhen oppressed but serves as a business that generates a ridiculous amount of moneyper year.
Hip Hop has and will onlycontinue to shape the world around us.