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Authenticity of Hip Hop

Essay by   •  July 17, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,564 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,031 Views

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The musical component of African American culture has always been unique and intriguing. Putting a race factor aside, music had a major effect on culture in both positive and negative lights. Good or bad, Hip hop's effect on African American culture has created opinions that support each claim. The positive claim is that Hip hop music has generated a medium for African Americans to legally improved financially and express themselves freely. However, the opposite claim is that African American culture is turning for the worse because of the negative messages within the lyrics and outside influences. There is a belief that Caucasians are exploiting the history of African Americans through music industry. On the affirmative side of the argument, since Hip-hop is an open medium for expression, the cultural outcome and musical products are forever changing due to the change in artists and the artists' environment. The rebuttal to the previous claim is that since the corporate management (white) over produced music, the music is created in reaction to market demands and creative types of music. The power of "market influence," has forced music not to become a true expression or a genuine representation of the African American culture. Hip-hop's music and culture originated as a representation of African American culture; however, Hip-hop is under the control of Caucasians and the majority of the consumers are Caucasians. This has caused Hip-hop to evolve into an outlet for displaying negative stereotypes of the African American lower class and a continuation of exploitation, all while corporate (white) prosper.

During the 1970s, in New York, Hip-hop evolved into popular music among for young African Americans. "Hard driving dance numbers," was the type of music listened during that time and was created within the inner city by young African Americans where they usually played it in their neighborhoods or at parties (Katel). Blues is a genre that can be related to Hip-hop because of the process in which it started. The major distinctions between the two genres are diverse external factors. Lower class blacks dealt with economic and racial expressions and to cope; resulting in The Blues being created and the music symbolized those struggles. On the other hand, Hip-hop was crafted from new freedom of expression as they faced new limits (George pg. xi). The similarities of Hip-hop and The Blues are taken from the way that they were both formulated by blacks as a response to cultural sensibilities. Blacks created the Blues to help cope with their oppression and lift their spirits due to white economic and racial oppressions versus African-Americans (Barlow 7). Songs filled with positivity and uplifting lyrics could be found throughout Hip-hop early on instead of promoting violence and drug dealing. Furthermore, the earlier forms of Hip-hop were not under that influence of the market demands and a white consumer base.

Hip-hop was not materialized without the involvement of popular culture and white, like the Blues. Rick Rubin, as well as many other whites, was ingrained within Hip-hop as investors, producers, or audiences. The integration of whites and African Americans is not a negative subject; however, there is a history of African Americans being exploited by whites, using African American talent to profit for their own. They saw the pathway of economic opportunity was through exploitation. On the other hand, supporters of Hip-hop today think that commercialization is creating a whole new pathway for Hip-hop artists. Due to commercialization, there has been a shift from an African American consumer base to a predominately white consumer base. Supply and demand is the golden rule Americas economy follows; resulting, producers have to tailor the music to what the audience wants to buy. "White suburban teenagers make up the vast majority of Hip-hop fans" (Katel). The demand has obviously changed so music that "white suburban teenagers" want to hear will be produced. Supply and demand will show that corporate (white) America runs the producing of Hip-hop music and will supply the music that is demanded in the market. The demand for African American music in a white market is not new. Samuels states that "Rap's 'hip-hip' appeal to whites rested in its evocation of an age-old image of blackness: a foreign, sexually charged, and criminal underworld against which the norms of white society are defined, and by extension, through which they may be defied. It was the truth of this latter proposition that rap would test in its journey into the mainstream" (Samuels). Traced throughout history can be found this demand for black culture. Continuation of "minstrel" displays the Reconstruction Era, where portrayals of African American culture is exaggerated, but praised. The fact that whites enjoy African American cultural products

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