Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hip-Hop Sell Outs

Hip-hop has always been about creating trends, but they've taken it to an entirely new level now.  In fact, it's not trending, it's advertising.

Back in the day, Run-DMC had a song called "My Adidas" and they professed their love for the shoes they wore without laces.  It was very rare that an actual product was marketed in most rap back then because rap was in a different place at the time.  Rap was about self-promotion of talent and / or provoking thought.

Today's rap is about the promotion of materialistic things than anything else.  CNN reported that out of the top 30 hip hop songs on the Billboard charts, 27 of them mention the name of a vehicle, 22 mention miscellaneous products from clothing to rims and 19 of them mention a brand of liquor.  The liquor companies stated that they don't market products to minors, but that they do reward hip-hop stars with endorsements for promoting their products.  That appears to be half of the problems in our inner cities today.  A focus on materialistic things and alcohol is being pounded into their ears on mainstream radio to our kids.

In contrast, the top 30 country songs on the Billboard charts revealed 7 miscellaneous products (mostly blue jeans and power tools), 4 mentions of liquor and 4 mentions of vehicles. Check out this article for more info on rap's influence on our youth through their brand promoting. Here's an excerpt from that article:

Alcohol companies, of course, are happy to get the recognition, but it seems that many singers are also tangentially involved in the alcohol business. Jay-Z, for instance, owns a percentage of Armadale Vodka while Snoop Dogg was the face for Landy Cognac in 2008 and, not coincidentally, sang a song about it called Luv Drunk.

Now, studies are saying that US teens hear three brand names for every hour of rap music they listen to. Given that the average teen listens to 2.5 hours of music per day, your average kid is hearing 8 alcohol brand names daily.

Some people say American teens are listening to a lot more than simply 2.5 hours of music, suggesting that they hear up to 34 alcohol brand names every day while they listen to music that promotes a "luxury lifestyle characterized by degrading sexual activity, wealth, partying, violence and the use of drugs."

It is no coincidence that the brand names that are most frequently mentioned are also the ones the teenage drinkers seem to prefer.

Today's rap deserves its own genre.  Something to separate it from the artists who came along over 25 years ago and made it mainstream.  We have Conscious Rap (Public Enemy, KRS-1), Booty Music (95 South, 2 Live Crew), Gangsta Rap (NWA, Eazy-E) and Mainstream Rap (MC Hammer and Fresh Prince). Don't get me wrong. People in the 80's wore gold ropes and drove nice cars, but that wasn't the focus of their lyrics. They told stories of life in the hood, exposed racism and political loopholes or bragged about how lyrically talented they were.

Also, I don't want to lump all of today's rappers into this materialistic corner I'm painting. There are some rappers who are truly talented in today's rap game despite what they're rapping about: Paul Wall, Lil' Wayne, Eminem, Kanye among a few others whose names escape me right now. But a majority of the people I'm referring to who aren't all that talented and / or push products every chance they get: P-Diddy, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane and Rick Ross. Some of the songs may be catchy, but they're really not saying anything when it's all said and done.

I'm wearing a lot of jewelry, so therefore, I must be talented.
Now everything is about what I'm drinking/smoking/wearing/driving and how many women I'm banging. Music videos with rented women, homes and cars (you don't think these guys really own mansions and Lamborghinis, do you?). I don't know if we'll ever see again a powerful video like P.E.'s "Fight the Power," a collaboration of artists to perform a modern day "Self-Destruction" or even come across a mainstream group similar to the X-Clan.

Is this what rap has become?  No.  At least not to me. If this is what these artists want to do, then so be it. But, don't allow it to be on mainstream radio where anyone of any age can gain access to listen. Even HBO won't show a Rated: R movie until after 8 PM when kids are supposed to be in bed. Put restrictions on this music so I don't have to worry about my eight year old god son singing songs about Ciroc.

I refuse to call today's hip-hop "rap."  Call it "commercial hip-hop" or "ad rap," but don't call it rap. Contributing to the destruction of our youth all for the sake of a buck?

A bunch of hip-hop sell outs.



  1. I'm not very big on rap music for a couple of reasons one of which is the very one you are talking about. If I wanted to her you were driving in a Lambo, sipping Krystal, and flying on private jets then I'd look your ass up on the internet. I don't need to hear about the ho's you be tapping or the whips you be riding. No thank you. Ugh.

    I do enjoy old school rap and Eminem along with Lil Wayne but I can't stand the self promoting, look at how great I am, aren't I the sexiest, richest, most suave man you've ever seen? Just ew.

    I'm just not up to date enough about today's "rap" music to discuss much else on the topic but wanted to at least comment.

  2. Is this where I start sounding like my parents and talking about how "today's" music (esp. rap/hip hop) can't hold a candle to the jamz we listened to "back in tha day"?! I don't watch videos anymore because they nauseate me. Things were much simpler when the Beastie Boys sang about Brass Monkey and Snoop just sang about Gin and Juice (without referring to a specific brand). I still love me some rap/hip hop music, but I do find myself switching the channel when it just sounds like garbage (which is a LOT lately).

  3. @ Jewels - For some reason, I pictured you laying on a polar bear skinned rug in some rap video. Don't ask me why. LOL! I don't mind the self-promotion since rap was based on it, but it was the self-promotion of talent. Not a self-promotion of this fictional life that most of these guys live.

    @ Reck - I do miss those days, but songs back then like "Brass Monkey" and "Gin & Juice" were special because they weren't "everyday." Now, every song is about a beverage or a car or something.

  4. Q-oh my goodness...I laughed out loud. I have NEVER pictured myself on a polar bear skin rug in a rap video or anywhere else! hahahahaha. I love it. Maybe I'll go to a photography studio and get one of those shots taken and post it. lmao

  5. well said, what happen to anthems like Fight The Power, Self Destruction, etc.

    1. Thanks for stopping in, Dr. Bad! Yeah, I wonder if we'll ever see videos as powerful as those ever again.


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