In the last few years we’ve seen some cool revivals of what some might consider old school hip-hop. The first thing that comes to mind is “Straight Outta Compton,” the was the biggest movie about hip-hop in years. We had some critical words about what the movie actually represented, but whether or not you feel its motives were pure, it did succeed in making N.W.A. relevant to a whole new generation. The movie sent N.W.A. to the top-five on the charts, and even seemed to helped for Dr. Dre’s most recent album, “Compton.”
You might also think back to 2012, when a so-called hologram of Tupac Shakur performed at Coachella. It was a dramatic tribute for Tupac fans, and it launched an active discussion about whether this might become a trend in the music industry. Since 2012 we’ve also discussed the hologram concept for the likes of Michael Jackson and, more recently, Prince.
But how else can older hip-hop acts look to stay relevant as the music landscape continues to change? Let’s look at a few ideas inspired by classic artists from other genres who have already had to confront the hurdles of maintaining exposure and getting in front of new audiences.
Get Down With Festivals
Festivals have become big money for a lot of artists and it’s more than just playing them. The 2017 Coachella festival featured some of the biggest names in rap today with Kendrick Lamar, Future, Migos, and Drake all making appearances at the famous California fest. Their performances all went viral, and helped to further boost the popularity of rappers already at the top of the game. But some rappers aren’t content to just collect checks to perform, they want money for the events themselves. Ja Rule’s ill-fated Fyre Fest might have been a complete disaster, but the actual concept wasn’t too bad. The idea of a major musician putting together their own festival and profiting from it actually makes a lot of sense, the key is getting the right people on your team to execute it properly.
<strong>Partner With Game Developers</strong>
It’s a kind of an unexpected trend, but we’ve seen a lot of classic rock groups gain a boost in modern outreach through partnerships with different online games. NetEnt’s collection of licensed slot reels now includes titles based on Guns N’ Roses, Motörhead, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. These games have proven to be very popular with players online, and one has to assume that classic hip-hop acts could have similar success. Imagine an online game based on N.W.A., or Tupac, or even The Beastie Boys or the Wu-Tang Clan. Plenty of fans would find their way to these kinds of games, and they might even expose new audiences to their music.
Help Design Collaborative Experiences
Hip-hop has never really had an answer to one of classic rock’s biggest weapons in the last decade when it comes to reaching new audiences, and that’s Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and other interactive games. While there are a few crude titles that involve singing along to rap hits karaoke-style or trying to DJ, there’s nothing that hooks gamers like being able to play the guitar along to AC/DC or Metallica. That’s not to say there couldn’t be something awesome though. With virtual reality growing more popular, simulated rap performances might be a possibility, and we could even see artists helping to brand rap battle or performance-based games over VR.