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Hip Hop, Technology, Culture and Consumer Adoption

    First of all, with this being my first post on RapRehab, I feel blessed and honored to be contributing to this wonderful site. Advocating consciousness has always been in my DNA. Upon finding this site, I knew I was in the right place and was drawn to take part in it. So here I go …

    Prior to writing this article, I had an epiphany about a driving force that has affected me for … pretty much my whole life. You know that moment when an idea clearly presents itself to you? Then you wonder, “why didn’t I realize it sooner?” It happened to me regarding my existence within our Hip Hop culture.

    I came across the video of a recent, insightful discussion from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France. The talk was titled, “Technology, Culture and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape.” It was moderated by Stephanie Ruhle, managing editor/anchor, of Bloomberg Television. The distinguished panel included:

    Steve Stoute – CEO/Founder, Translation and former record executive

    Ben Horowitz – Venture Capitalist/Author

    Kanye West – Recording Artist/Producer/Fashion Designer

    Despite the lengthy title, what amazed me, but not really, was how Hip Hop dominated the discussion. All three men shared jewels pertaining to tech, business, consumer behavior and more. But Steve Stoute really struck me with his comments. He spoke of how Hip Hop culture has and will continue to play a prominent role in content development, marketing and technology.

    Being a part of the Hip Hop generation, we are in the midst of tremendous change. This constant evolution transcends color, socioeconomic background or any other category imaginable.

    Stoute’s important 2011 book, “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy,” offers many similar ideas shared in the talk.

    For example, in the book, Stoute related an experience that exemplified an international appeal. While on vacation in a small, old-fashioned, French town and he saw a store titled, “BLING.” The book’s overture describes how a 1986 rap concert at Madison Square Garden, headlined by Run-DMC, further established Hip Hop’s influence, re-energized the Adidas brand and got the Queens trio an endorsement deal, too.

    According to Stoute, a current example of Hip Hop’s effect on global business was the recent deal between Beats Electronics and Apple, Inc. Beats’ rise was due to its acceptance by Hip Hop culture- it’s visible co-founder being respected producer, Dr. Dre. The headphones appealed to many people all over the world. The design, colors, connection to the ‘cool’ lifestyle all contributed to the allure. Kids, teens, young adults, athletes, all got in on the wave. Obviously, Apple took notice and made their move.

    Hip Hop has crossed numerous lines and merged lifestyle with commerce. Part of the reasoning for this dynamic is because of the shared values most Hip Hop heads have in common.

    Ben Horowitz, son of a conservative writer, shares an intimate story on his blog about Hip Hop’s profound effect on him and how it rejuvenated a dear friend’s life.

    Back to that epiphany, we’re part of a special life force, a spirit, a mindset, a religion:

    religion (noun):

    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    I guess that’s what KRS-ONE meant back in the day when he said, “I am Hip Hop.” Therefore, it’s much more than deejaying, emceeing, breakdancing and, graffiti. More than fashion.

    We’ve seen it time and again where the hustle, grit and determination to succeed, that formed Hip Hop, continues to manifest itself.

    Hip Hop is a way of being and it must be protected. All of us who are invested must be Hip Hop Champions (supporters/advocates). Champion the good it offers, build on it and reject the destructive forces trying to manipulate it for personal gain. I read a particular RapRehab post where the writer mentioned that we vote with our dollars. Truth.

    I can’t front – recently, over several weeks, I was watching the reality show “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.” Mostly, because the women are sexy so, yes, they got me for a while. But with the program’s bizarre storylines and superficial characters – I knew I had to stop and I did.

    We vote with our dollars, viewing/listening choices and it is as real as ever because of the attention paid to consumer trends. If a show doesn’t generate the numbers needed – its contract won’t be renewed for another season.

    I’ve heard older people speak of how jazz was taken from its creators by corporate America. Many people believe that’s starting to happen with Hip Hop. Let’s continue making conscious decisions to protect and build our culture.

    Fabian Baez is a, New York City-based, Hip Hop Copywriter and Marketing Specialist focused on web content creation. To learn more about him and his work, visit: Connect with him: [email protected] or on Twitter @FabianBaez