Mar 16, 2007

Cartoons! / Hip-Hop is Dead?

I don't know where this cartoon came from, besides Nickelodean. I assume it's part of a new animated short type of show. Whatever it, it is awesome. And trippy.

This is an animated short from the 80's by Osamu Tezuka that I found at Cartoon Brew. Good stuff.

And this is the trailer for Paprika, directed by one of my favorites, Satoshi Kon. Hannah made me aware of this. I'm excited.

Anyway, my mother is writing a column on the supposed "death" of hip-hop. She asked me to help, so I wrote some points that I think have lead to hip-hop being "dead". It's more of an angry rant. But I think I made some points somewhere. I have so much more to say on the subject. But I don't feel like writing more. I could write a paper on this. To bad I'm done with English 200. Anyway, this is what I sent my mom...

"Hip-hop is not dead. However mainstream hip-hop has been on the decline for a long time. The problem starts with money. In an URB Magazine interview Lil’ Wayne said that if he wasn’t making money off of his music, he wouldn’t be doing it. I think that is an issue that comes with a lot of popular ‘artists’ today. The problem is that they are not artists at all. They are focused on making a commercial product that will sell. When record sales become more important than creativity, the art suffers. That could be said for any genre of music or art form. There is little room for creative growth when an artist is signed to a major label. Growth involves risk, and risk is expensive. Not that risks are never taken, but when it comes to the most popular songs at the moment I see record labels playing it disgustingly safe. Mim’s “This is Why I’m Hot”, the number one selling song on iTunes at the moment, is as typical as you can get. It represents everything wrong with hip-hop today. Next is Rich Boy’s “Throw Some Deez”, a song about buying a Cadillac and putting nice wheels on it. Sure, braggadocio is a big part of hip-hop culture. It has been since the beginning. But I think they could be talking about a lot more. There are artists who have more to say but aren’t getting the attention.

I think that the black audiences are part of the problem. It’s been said that most hip-hop is purchased by a white audience. The problem became clear for me when I went to a Fatlip concert. Most of the audience was white. Two black females walked to the entrance to ask who was performing. After saying “I don’t know who that is!” they left. Fatlip is a member of one of the great hip-hop groups of the 90’s, The Pharcyde. It seems like people aren’t willing to listen to someone ‘new’ unless they’ve heard them on the radio or seen them on TV. Even Lauryn Hill complained at a concert because there were barely any black people in the audience. There are a number of underground artists that have expressed concern over this issue. Murs, an artist out of California, wrote a song about how he appreciates all of his fans, but he wished that more black people came to his shows and listened to his music. Whether that is a problem with the black audience or their touring agent is unclear. But it is a problem either way.

That brings me to another issue; TV. BET is notorious for excluding a lot of music from their channel. BET refused to play De La Soul’s single “Shopping Bags” because they said it didn’t appeal to their demographic. But I’ve seen them play older De La Soul videos. So why couldn’t they play one of their new videos? Because of their demographic? They should realize that they decide what their demographic is interested in in the first place. They are the tastemakers. They give artists the exposure they need to be successful. De La Souls newest album would have sold a lot more units if they had gotten to attention they deserved. Unfortunately, BET didn’t feel that one of the most influential hip-hop groups didn’t deserve it. That’s disrespectful considering De La Soul was part of the Native Tongues movement, responsible for sparking the careers of Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Common, Mos Def and inspiring a whole generation of artists. When you have business people, who I can only assume have little interest in music as an art form, deciding what their audience wants to here there is a serious problem. It just makes more room for the 50 Cents of the industry.

The power comes from record labels and major networks like MTV, VH1, and BET. If Mim’s song hadn’t been pushed into the spotlight, nobody would care. If a record label pushes an artist enough, people are going to notice and become interested. That’s all it takes. It’s rarely about talent and credibility now. Record labels want to push what is going to sell. So they sell the wrong people because mainstream audiences are brainwashed into thinking that it is what they should be listening to. Now when people think “hip-hop”, they think of brainless club music. They don’t want to think when they’re dancing in a club. The industry needs to get rid of the assumption that all hip-hop is made for clubs."

No comments:

Post a Comment