The confluence of multiple socioeconomic inequities in the South Bronx throughout the 1970s gave rise to a music genre that eventually developed into a full fledged political movement. The genre, however, has changed significantly since then. In 1991 Newsweek published a story claiming that 80% of hip hop’s audience was white and that rap music was as commercially successful as any other genre of music. In recent years artists and research groups, namely Mediamark Research Inc., have claimed that this number is significantly inflated. Some have argued that the initial number of 80% was published by media corporations as a marketing tool to justify ad revenue for top 40 stations. Regardless if this number is true there is no doubt that we have seen rap music grow beyond its initial consumer base. As its following grew, hip hop artists were granted a platform arguably unparalleled in popular culture. From the harsh confrontational rhymes of N.W.A. to the contemplative critiques of Kendrick Lamar, hip hop has always addressed social issues but unfortunately hip hop artists since the 1970s have only languidly promoted social progressivism. Although the rise of Frank Ocean and KATYRANDA represents positive change a primary critique of hip hop music is that is discusses the harmfulness of discrimination but at the same time rejects homosexuality, for example. With rap music now a part of mainstream American culture it is the development of the themes in hip hop that have been more impactful than the developmenmt of hip hop’s sound itself.

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1 Comment
  1. Ryan 6 months ago

    Interesting look into the contradiction of using hip hop to fight discrimination, while it has a tendency to discriminate against other marginalized groups.

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