Corp Hop - Processing revolution into devolution

“The current Hip Hop Scene: there are those who know the culture of Hip Hop Culture & there are many who do not & only follow rappers of Hip Hop who have a hit record. There is Hip Hop Culture that is controlled by corporations & The Luciferians & there is that small element of Hip Hop Culture that is not controlled by no one but their selves.” A recent interview with Afrika Bambaarta, the indisputable founder and king of NYC Hip Hop

During the nineties to the noughties there was hardly a major consumer company around that wasn’t trying to cash in on hip-hop's popularity, if not its edgy authenticity. In  2003, Marketing experts estimated that one-quarter of all discretionary spending in the US alone was influenced by hip-hop. Coke, Pepsi, Heineken, Courvoisier, McDonald's, Motorola, Gap, Cover Girl - even milk: They all used and continue to use hip-hop to sell themselves.  I shall refer to this tired phenomenon as ‘corp hop’

Hip-hop music emerged from mostly impoverished, largely African-American urban neighborhoods in the '70s where the social climate was awash with racial activist organisations such as Black Panthers and still raw from the oppression and terror imposed upon them by racial hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan some decades before. Acts like Public Enemy, Ice T and Africa Bambaata burst onto the scene, with politically charged rhymes like N.W.A.'s song, 'Fuck the Police'. The movement continued to build and stamp down social barriers and challenge issues such as police brutality, which impacted strongly on the changing society around it.  When 2Pac Shakur, former roadie, dancer, and second-string MC for Digital Underground, released his debut album, "2Pacalypse Now." It immediately incited controversy for it's content; particular with its lyrics regarding police officers. Vice President Dan Quayle even called for a ban of the albulm during his campaign for re-election.  Meanwhile, along with the music an anarchic sense of reclaiming the streets was errupting with b-boyin and graffiti and the infamous bloc-parties. This grew into an entire way of life, which was contagious and rapidly spreading across the globe.

So, what better way to quash a revolution than commercialising it? Out came the big businesses from the woodwork to convert this backlash into cash "There has been a bona fide cultural shift," announced Marian Salzman, chief strategic officer at advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide on the harnessing of the movement. And Erin Patton, president of the Mastermind Group, marketing consultants was quick to dub corp hop "the new mainstream,"

The new mainstream
Nelly, Jay-Z and 50 Cent

In 1990, All Business reported that smaller record companies, such as Next Plateau and Priority  accounted for 6.2 percent of last year's top albums and an impressive 18 percent of the black hit chart. But these were soon to be bought out by the big boys - Next Plateau Entertainment was bought by Polydor who became Universal. Prority was bought by EMI.

Indeed, once major entertainment conglomerates essentially took over rap music (especially by buying out these formerly independent rap labels), the content and character of rap music transformed. This was true not only in terms of lyrics, but even in the public personae of rappers, some of whom were even encouraged or coached to behave in public (such as during interviews) in ways that were consistent with their supposedly "gangsta" lifestyles or affectations. Hip hop documentary ‘The Big WhitE Elephant in the Room’ echoes this correlation as it addresses the reality of the white corporate control of the rap music industry charting the story of four black youths from poor neighborhoods trying to impress record executives with violent lyrics. They subsequently admit that they did not want to focus on content of that nature but felt it would increase their chances of being signed.  

In 2000 Nike signed Nelly to lucrative endorsement deals and Reebok gave Jay-Z and 50 Cent their own shoe designs; furthering hip-hop's commercial, cultural, and economic dominance of the youth market.  50 Cent also caused a huge outcry when a Reebok campaign featured TV ads showing the rapper counting to nine — the number of times he was shot; at the same time, print ads showed him with finger print records. These adverts were plastered across America, many concentrated on billboards just outside schools. 50 Cent also chattered away on Graham Norton recently about his latest business venture with Coca Cola - the dubious pair now co-own a new brand of vitamin water.

In response to their lucrative deals the rappers seem to bang on about nothing other than wallowing in gross luxury, with dull materialistic lyrics about products. One example out of many is Jay Z moronically rapping about his footwear when aboard yaughts ‘I don’t wear flip-flops, I wear white Luis Vouittons’ on recent smash hit ‘Who's gonna run this town tonight’. Even Jay Z himself, a businessman, has hinted in his lyrics are empty and shallow, rapping on American Gangsta that he is merely feeding the consumer exactly what they crave:

‘This is that ignorant shit you like
Nigga, fuck, shit, ass, bitch, trick, plus ice
C'mon, I got that ignorant shit you love
Nigga, fuck, shit, maricon, puta, and drugs’.

Having infamously named his clothing and record empire ‘Rocafellas’, an admittedly humorous nod to one the biggest banking family in the world, Jay-Z is not afraid to flaunt his respect for global corporate superpowers. This has lead Conspiracy theorists have to say Jay Z is deeply involved with the inner circles of Freemasonary and the occultist beliefs, which they adopt, promoting messages they want society to follow. The rapper has publicly denounced these claims and is currently suing a publication for slander over the matter.

It is very interesting that these three rappers mentioned above, who profit enormously from big business deals encourage and foster the most detrimental social values: misogyny (Nelly – see Misogyny TV article), materialism and violence.  And whether it is a symptom of money going to their heads, a demand from the market or a by-product of the corporate entertainment drive to commodity everything at the lowest common denominator (often especially women) we can only judge for ourselves. LB!


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