A Hip Hop Industry Commentary

By Frost

Hip Hop has been around for quite a while now. In the beginning it was compared to music fads such as Disco, but Hip Hop has long surpassed these other types of music in popularity and staying power. From the start Hip Hop has had an uphill battle. Coming from the streets of New York and other urban areas of the country, artists had to work hard to get air time and respect from mainstream media. Even a lot of black owned venues did not welcome this new form of music with open arms. But times have changed and Hip Hop/Rap is a force to be reckoned with. Making hundreds of millions of dollars a year it has more power than ever in the mainstream of our culture today. Everyday there are more and more radio stations, television programs, and magazines dedicated to the exciting and dynamic world of Hip Hop. So why does it seem like the industry is moving backwards?

Bitches, Hoes, Money, and Clothes

I think there are more questions than answers when it comes to this issue. There have always been songs about these things in Hip Hop, but this was not the majority of the content out there. We all know that big business has no conscience and violence and sex sell, they sell a lot. But with all the black owned independent labels and labels run by artists and producers, it becomes harder and harder to blame “the man” for what’s going on. What may have been started by mostly white executives at major record labels looking for the big pay day, is now being continued by black artists and label owners who have a choice. The consuming public is also to blame on this one, because we want it, we demand it. We snatch this stuff up faster than your uncle can fix a plate at grandma’s house for Sunday dinner. Hip Hop went from groups like Run DMC, who at first could not get a radio station to play their music, to stations that will play anything with a beat that talks about girls bending over and shaking their ass or rollin’ and firin’ up a blunt.

When I was comin’ up, Hip Hop was about life. Telling the everyday stories of life as experienced by the people who were creating it. If that was the case now then every Joe with a record deal is a multi-millionaire, a drug kingpin, and a pimp, not to mention a player, a hustler, and a gangsta. Let’s come back to reality, not every rapper has been a drug dealer, most are just above broke, and never had a girl working for them in their lives. There are some that have done these things and more. There are multi-millionaire rappers, ex-drug dealer rappers, (real)ex-gansta rappers, but these are not every rapper in the industry. Maybe that’s why we still miss Tupac so much, years after his death. He was telling stories of the streets that everyone could relate to. Painting pictures of the life he led and the things he saw, real shit. Not this made up, I was a < fill in stereotypical ghetto occupation or activity here> back in the day but now I’m doin’ this music thang, shit that is being fed to us by a lot of the rap industry. There are still some great artists out there, Common, Mos Def, The Roots, and Talib Kweli just to name a few. There are also a lot of tight ass songs out there by other artists that I think for the most part keep it real, Jay-Z, Redman, Method Man, Outkast, Nas, Mobb Deep, as well as others. But what happened to the social consciousness of Hip Hop? The music that was trying to uplift people with a lot of social and economic problems, not exploit those problems to sell records. They say sometimes you have to take two steps back to go three steps forward, I sure hope this is the case.

Your Hip Hop observer and enthusiast,
Frost
frost@slicksno.com