Solomon Comissiong, writing at Black Agenda Report:
It is undeniable that hip hop culture is one of the most powerful marketing tools America has seen in quite sometime. Had hip hop been around during the earlier part of the 20th century the unscrupulous public relations pioneer, Edward Bernays, would have probably also used it to promote the smoking of Viceroy Cigarettes to women. Various aspects of hip hop culture, mainly rap music, generate billions of dollars. However, who is generating this wealth, where is it going and at what cost?
“Their unfettered corporate feeding frenzy was similar to that of the European conquest of lands inhabited by people of color.”
Hip hop culture (rapping, djing, graffiti art, and breaking, etc.) was unequivocally created by youth of color in the Bronx during the early 1970s. Even though the origins of hip hop are entrenched in black and Latino communities throughout New York City it is currently pimped/used by large white owned corporations (media, record labels, etc.) to create astronomical bottom lines, reinforce capitalistic ideals, and adversely mass program black and brown youth. Hip hop has been co-opted, from the black community, by the white corporate establishment in much the same manner as was rock-n-roll (originally called rhythm and blues). Everyone from Allan Freed to Pat Boone cashed in on the original works of black artists, many of whom died penniless. However, where the corporate establishment left off when it came to thievery of rock-n-roll they picked up with hip hop. Once white corporations recognized the multi-billion dollar earning potential of rap music, the mass commercialization of hip hop began. They bought out everything from record labels to urban radio stations. Their unfettered corporate feeding frenzy was similar to that of the European conquest of lands inhabited by people of color.
RAP (rhythm and poetry) music has provided corporate radio stations and record labels, alike, with gigantic revenues almost beyond their wildest capitalistic wet dreams. The corporate takeover and commoditization of hip hop began to grow exponentially in the early to mid 1990s. The more money they made the less diversified rap music became on the radio and television airwaves. Balance on the mainstream airwaves rapidly became a thing of the past. Before corporate usurpation of rap music record labels, and subsequently airwaves, the fledging genre (RAP) was the embodiment of resistance for many. During the late 1980s and early 1990s rap music provided many black and Latino youth, including myself, with countless hours of culturally edifying and politically oriented music. If I was not learning how to “Fight the Power” I was proudly sporting my leather African medallion and rocking the map of Alkebulan (Africa) shaved in the back of my head.
“The more money they made the less diversified rap music became.”
Read more here.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.