Worried About The Future of Hip Hop and R&B? What Are You Gonna Do About It?
After decades of watching Rap and R&B music suffocate itself under the tightening grip of narrow-minded content, the 2013 Billboard charts and 2014 Grammy Awards have proven that the Rap and R&B landscape seems to be taking a final fatal turn towards gentrification. In the last few weeks, countless articles have been written about Rap and R&B’s cultural appropriation. Social media was on fire with posts about the music being hijacked, repackaged, and diluted to appeal to shifting demographics. Understandably so, people don’t want to see the music they love morph into a watered-down pop/rock/techno hybrid. More importantly, people don’t want to see those artists who create it, brushed to the side in favor of a “new flavor”. Think it can’t happen? Do Jazz, Blues, and Rock & Roll ring a bell? So folks talk about what needs to happen to take back the music.
“We need to have our own labels and distribution!”
“We need to boycott these award shows!”
“We need to put pressure on the industry!”
“We need to…blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!”
We ain’t gonna do shit.
And as usual, after the passionate arguments die down, everything returns to normal and the fire that once was is replaced by the latest hot button issue. Amidst all the heated discussions and the shoulda/woulda/coulda complaints, very little is done to offer practical solutions that don’t involve investing imaginary millions we don’t have to change an industry that doesn’t want to change. And the initial problem continues to grow…until it’s too late.
But fear not, ladies and gentlemen. There is a solution. And the good news is that it’s inexpensive, easy to implement, and can potentially change the face of Hip Hop and R&B. It’s called…… (drum roll please!)…….”supporting independent artists with your dollars!” For the low price of $5 to $10, you can support the kind of quality music whose future you claim to be worried about. For less than what it costs you to buy chips, salsa, soda, guacamole, and chicken wings for your Super Bowl party, you can download some of the greatest music the world has never heard. For less than the price of a Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, you can give your loved one the gift of music. If only a fraction of the billions spent on sports and holidays went to supporting quality music, we’d be able to create a thriving independent music scene that doesn’t need the mainstream industry’s validation to exist. And it can start right now…with you. Don’t know where to begin? Allow me to start you off with the following Hip Hop and R&B artists, some you may already know, others you’ll be glad to meet.
Sure, you’re going to have to do a little bit of digging on your own since you won’t find these types of artists in the mainstream but isn’t that what the internet is for?
So, are you ready to take the music back and put your money where your mouth is or will you be the one still complaining about the state of Rap and R&B when Riff Raff wins the 2015 Grammy award for best Hip Hop album? Only time will tell.
Sebastien Elkouby is a Hip Hop Culture historian, freelance writer, creative consultant, and award-winning educator. Check out his educational program, Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture and blog,SebIsHipHop.wordpress.com. For more info about his creative consulting services, contact him at[email protected].