The Commercialisation of Rap

Nadia Angel writes about the commercialisation of rap and how it has created stereotypes around hip hop artists.

Commercialisation is a merciless phenomenon in the 21st¬†century that we reside in. The act of making a new product available on a national or global market. A victim of this is the Hip Hop culture and all genres following under rap. I say ‚Äėvictim‚Äô because commercialisation tends to destroy the original message behind the artist and their music. This message tends to involve an insight of their surroundings, their upbringing and the rewards of their musical success. Instead all genres under rap are normalised and stereotypes are inflated especially the idea of ‚Äúhypermasculinity‚ÄĚ and the ‚Äúover-sexualisation of women‚ÄĚ. Rather intended or not, this use of this particular strand of music for commercial gain renders the music meaningless and portrays those who are the leaders of such genres as insolent.¬†

Lil Wayne in the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge commercial

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge commercial truly enforces the stereotypes that black artists and rappers do not know how to act once finding financial success and fame. As it shows Lil Wayne and his friends wasting expensive alcoholic drinks on the phone, as well as dunking the phone in his fish tank, unnecessarily to show off the new water resistant feature.  

Using the Hip Hop industry as a way to influence capitol was initially more present in the States¬†before it weaved it‚Äôs way through British commercial culture with the likes of Notorious B.I.G, Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer¬†and 50 Cent appearing in the commercials of¬†an array of brands.¬†¬†This was under the belief that these rap artists were essentially the spokesmen of what is¬†‚Äėhot and cool‚Äô, especially among the youth. Regardless of race.¬†

Snoop Dogg Hot Pocket song – Pocket Like It’s Hot

Nitasha¬†Sharma‚Äôs,¬†associate Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of California,¬†view¬†is that the¬†commercialisation¬†of Hip Hop, is a ‚Äúmarriage between popular black culture and global capital which illustrates capitalism‚ÄĚ.¬†The stereotype¬†that ‚Äėpopular black culture‚Äô¬†perpetuates tends to enforce negative stereotypes of people of colour and thus they suffer the effects of this.¬†

‚ÄúThe Commercialization of hip hop undercuts the original purpose and message of hip hop through normalizing and naturalizing predictability, stereotypes, hypermasculinity, over-sexualization of women, and promoting meaningless music, all for profitable gain.‚ÄĚ

Tamika Adams

An example of this is the New York Rapper, Bobby Shmurda who signed to EPIC records. His music influenced not only the rap scene but the dance scene, however when performing it in front of the members of EPIC records you see a completely disregard for Shmurda’s craft. It is this same disregard that leads to perpetuation of negative stereotypes, because those behind marketing the product have no intention on learning about the fundamentals of the culture the music came from.  

Bobby Shmurda Performing for Epic Records

This is not to say that commercialisation is an evil thing, because essentially it is giving these artists of colour some financial benefits. The issue arises when there is no respect for the culture it derives from. There is fault in the majority of a society exploiting the ideas of a minority, popularising them and relaying them back into society in a skewed manner. Some brands, such as Nike have been able to deliver a positive example of this.

“There is nothing wrong with one community learning from the cultural forms produced by another, if it respects their specific shapes and meanings. There is something horribly wrong with a dominant community repeatedly co-opting the cultural forms of oppressed communities, stripping them of vitality and form – the heritage of their creators – and then popularizing them. The result is a “bleached Pepsi culture” masquerading as the real thing. This is what threatens to dilute the real feeling and attitude of hip hop, preventing its genuine forms the freedom to fully develop. The expression of Black people is transformed when it is re-packaged without any evidence remaining of the black historical experience.

David Toop, 1984
Londoner Nike Advert

The Londoner Nike advert really successfully explores the different cultures that take up London.  

Within the United Kingdom, British politicians are notorious¬†for blaming the music industry, more specifically the genres of drill and grime for the increase and crime rates. Yet, the cooperate market are more than happy to manipulate this for their benefit ‚Äď streaming their influence across the¬†UK.¬†¬†

Ikea – Silence the Critics Advert. Narrated by D double E

‚ÄúA fantastic narrative highlighting the dismay of private renters forced into filthy, small and poor quality housing due to landlords charging unduly high rents. Good work D Double.‚ÄĚ

Elliot M on YouTube comments

Whether you believe its progressive or insulting, we live in a society full of double standards and subtle hypocrisy. Only with awareness and due diligence will be able to overcome the barriers known to some.  


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