Why Is Hip-Hop So Big? By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on December 23, 2016 by

3


I don’t know.

In case you missed the memo, hip-hop is exploding on streaming services, it’s even bigger than it is in the sales world, demonstrating true demand, because people are actually listening. Why?

I can only speculate.

The first thing that comes to mind is culture. The white world is bankrupt, with its lame TV competition shows, believing if you’re lily-white you’re desirable when the truth is when you flaunt convention, break rules, people cling to you, which begs the question why all these white hip-hop fans voted for Trump, which they did, then again, Trump is hip-hop, as in he doesn’t believe in political correctness and marches to the beat of his own drummer and believes the law is there to be manipulated and challenged.

But no hip-hop act will play the inauguration. Kid Rock and Ted Nugent are lining up, paragons of the past, do you see them anywhere on the Spotify Top 50, nowhere close, and you’ll probably get a couple of country acts too, brain dead singers of others’ songs who oftentimes are racist underneath it all, then again, some of the biggest country acts rap, isn’t that confounding, hell, Florida Georgia Line made massive hits integrating the urban sound, even Luke Bryan does it too, what’s up?

Well, there’s been decades worth of investment, akin to the Republicans taking over the government, right wingers planted seeds back in the Carter era, whereas rock believes it should survive because it’s entitled to, just like the Democrats. We went from “The Message” to Ice-T to Diddy to Jay Z to Drake, you could take a college course on the history of hip-hop, and they probably give one!

So there’s something to grab on to, as opposed to the derivative dreck featured on Active Rock. Hell, you can have ten hits in that format and still not be able to sell out arenas. As for Non-Comm/Triple-A, these are the same people who voted for Hillary, holier-than-thou elites who believe they’re entitled to rule but don’t.

Not that the hip-hoppers supported the Donald, forget Kanye, he’s insane, but the rest of the rappers… Hell, Killer Mike came out for Bernie, he spoke more truth on Bill Maher than I saw all season. But African-Americans have been screwed from time immemorial, hell, Hillary just thought they’d show up and vote for her, she barely invested in them, and no one likes to be ignored.

The hip-hoppers come from the I don’t give an F world, and the only reason I didn’t spell out the word is the white spam filters will make it so most of my audience won’t see this missive, but the rappers feel free to utilize the speech of the street, and that’s not only in the inner city, you hear that language everywhere, even D.C., but no one will admit it, proving there’s more honesty in hip-hop than elsewhere.

And hip-hoppers know you’re on your own. That you can’t rely on the government or the industry to get ahead. While the Trumpers are decrying them as takers, hip-hoppers take nothing for granted, they know you’ve got to fight for your piece of the pie, the big piece of chicken, you’ve got to self-promote and intimidate and these lessons have spread to social media, where do you think “polite society” learned it?

As for selling out to corporations… Knowing they can never run the corporation, they’re satisfied to rip it off. Knowing these fat cats want some of their audience, which the rappers make them pay dearly for.

And hip-hop is inclusive. Everybody can try to rap, and many do. Whereas in the white world we tell you you cannot play. And sure, the odds of success are long, but someone new is winning all the time, keeping new players in the game.

And hip-hop knows the world is corrupt, rather than bitch that their cheese was taken away, never mind moved, they constantly put out mixtapes, giving their wares away, knowing attention is everything and you can make bank elsewhere, furthermore, if you’re not top of mind constantly, you’re forgotten. Adele puts out an album and goes on a world tour, I dare you to sing two songs from “25,” she’s the queen of the white media, with hosannas everywhere, and Drake puts out new music all the time and although he gets some ink he’s not relying on it to advance his career, he’s in control of his own narrative on social media. Hip-hoppers don’t abhor the establishment media, they just know you can’t rely on it.

And even though to the casual user it all sounds the same, innovation is revered in hip-hop, a new sound, a new rapper, the scene is fluid and constantly reinventing itself, whereas in the white world the corporate masters are busy propping up the same old acts. Egomaniacs like Garth Brooks who believes in maximizing revenue while keeping his music from streaming services and playing to old farts who go to bed at 9 o’clock, hell, he does shows in the afternoon, did anything exciting ever happen in the afternoon?

And there’s cross-pollination, the whites criticize the multiple writers, the guest rappers, but that’s just evidence of a community, a cohesiveness, a big tent that the naysayers are not inside of.

And then there’s the danger, the jail terms of too many of these acts, who are willing to pay the price for their lifestyle. While whites are coloring inside the lines, trying to get a gig with the man so they can save up for retirement, these hip-hop acts act like there’s literally no tomorrow and delayed gratification is for suckers, that resonates if you’re on the bottom, and it resonates if you’re on the top too, because you’re sick of being told what to do.

And then there’s the truth. The rappers are saying what’s on their mind, in a world where so few do, where all messages are filtered and homogenized. Do you get the appeal?

Not that I’m an expert, far from it, but I can see that hip-hop is the anti, and no other musical format has a chance unless it embraces some of the hip-hop ethos.

We didn’t know country was that big until SoundScan, when we saw the true sales.

We now know hip-hop has not only survived, but burgeoned, that it rules. Long after not only Diddy, but Russell Simmons. It’s self-regenerating, maybe because when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

African-Americans, put down from time immemorial, are unafraid of a system that has screwed them since day one, they’re willing to put up the middle finger, at least the rappers, and this resonates more than ever in a world where the middle class is disappearing and so many are challenged.

As for Bill Cosby, who told African-Americans to sit up straight and fly right…

He turned out to have more skeletons in his closet than those he accused.

So who are you going to believe?

There’s power in hip-hop. And Bruce Springsteen will not keep Donald Trump in check, but a bunch of people his audience abhors just might.

Posted in: Uncategorized