With hip-hop being a youth-based culture at its core, we at the Hip-Hop Culture Center feel it’s important to give the youth a platform to express their feelings on what interests them about hip-hop’s current climate, as well as where they think it’s going. Today, our youth reporter Dominique Williams takes a look at the global impact of hip-hop!

All Around The World: The Global Economic Impact of Hip Hop

It has been almost 30 years since the introduction of hip-hop. Over that time, hip-hop’s become immensely popular, not just in America, but worldwide. Hip-hop has expanded itself into music, fashion, advertisement, movies, and more. It’s given many rappers, and those associated with the genre, the chance to branch themselves out into other ventures and create their own brands. Also, it has allowed them to bring hip-hop to other communities through organizations and fundraisers as well. As of today, Hip-hop has become a global phenomenon where it ranges from a genre of music to a full-blown lifestyle. Hip-hop has gone through many changes that some people do not agree or identify with. It has impacted a lot of things in the world from fashion to politics. Hip-hop music has been used as a means to create songs that deliver somewhat negatives messages such as sex, drugs, and violence (“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash), police brutality (“F**k the Police” by NWA), poverty in America (“Heard Em’ Say” by Kanye West) etc. But has also been used to advocate more positive messages about “being whatever you want to be” (“I Can” by Nas), a father son relationship (“Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith), HIV/AIDS awareness (“Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-n-Pepa) etc. Overall, hip-hop has had its share of praise and scrutiny.

The hip-hop economy increases at an astonishing rate. Hip-hop is, according to Forbes, an industry that garners 10 billion dollars a year. Advertisers see rappers as an opportunity to sell their brands because of the impact they have on the younger generation. It is reported by the NPD Group, that more than 50% of people who purchase hip-hop albums are either teens or in their early 20s. Young fans gravitate towards the images that they see of the hip-hop lifestyle, the cars, jewelry, expensive clothing, etc. For that reason, when seeing a rapper associated with a particular brand, they are more inclined to buy a certain item in order to be a part of that lifestyle. For example, when Busta Rhymes, “Pass the Courvoisier Part Two” was released, sales for Courvoisier cognac increased. For these reasons, rappers such as Jay-Z (Rocawear), Nelly (Apple Bottoms), Sean “P’Diddy” Combs (Sean John, and various vodka brands such as Ciroc) are examples of showing a desire to create their own brands.

Hip-Hop began in 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the South Bronx in 1973. DJ Kool Herc, recognized as the originator of hip-hop, hosted various parties at this location, mixing a variety of different musical sounds. Other things associated with hip-hop include beat boxing, breaking, break-dancing, and many more. During the 70s, hip-hop was not recognized by America, believing that it was only a fad and that it would create the impact that it has today until the introduction of the song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, a group composed of Michael Anthony “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson and Master Gee, assembled by Sylvia Robinson. A major hit, “Rapper’s Delight” moved more than eight million units worldwide. Soon, rap’s popularity and style began to grow. During the 80s, NWA (N***as With Attitude) was introduced to the world as embodiments of gang violence, sexism, and hedonistic values. Their lyrics were very harsh and straightforward, so much to the point that there song “F**k tha Police” raised concerns amongst the FBI, warning them to watch out or face trouble. This song protested against police brutality against minorities, this message was somewhat ignored, believing it was simply a message to insult the Police Department, until it was later seen with the eruption of the L.A riots.

Various styles of hip-hop culture have been introduced in other countries. Japan was introduced to Soul Train in the 1970s, which became a gateway for them in accepting black culture. Hip-hop was introduced to Japan in 1983 after the movie “Flashdance” where, for a few seconds, they caught a glimpse of children breakdancing. Hip-hop continued to appear onward into the 90s with the introduction of artist like Heavy D and MC Hammer. Japan has also accepted hip-hop culture to the point where Hip hop is considered a type of lifestyle someone might want to be apart of. The Japanese , who are involved in the Hip-hop culture, are also concerned with buying the items that they see in music videos such as DKNY, Polo, etc. The only difference between American interpretation of hip-hop and Japanese interpretation of hip-hop is the message. In America it is seen as, not a race thing, but an art form that is conveyed in many ways, whereas in Japan, it is seen on a more superficial level and conveyed in one way based on the visual messages presented to them, such as the cars, the clothes, and the African-American rappers. But the exposure to the culture shows the impact hip-hop has on individuals around the world.

Hip-hop, over the years, has made a name for itself and has managed to spread its influence all around the world, impacting people with its messages and images in some way shape or form. Hip-hop has expanded itself through the media with fashion, movies, and global export. It has also allowed other rappers access to other ventures such as acing, screenwriting, entrepreneurship, etc. Despite this, many individuals continue to carry their individual opinions about hip-hop, some of them negative, some positive, and some are simply undecided. Like all musical styles, some are more popular then others, and some soon do not have the same they used to back then. But hip-hop will continue to remain within the influence of the media, continuing to impact the individuals within and outside of the U.S. and, while its popularity may fluctuate, will not disappear.

Dominique Williams is a Bronx-born Alfred University student currently studying Communications. Along with writing, singing and playing video games, her favorite rappers are Eve, Eminem, B.o.B, and T.I.

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