Commercialization and Social Justice (Online discussion)

Has the commercialization of hip-hop eliminated any possibility of its usefulness within a struggle for political power or social justice?


200-250 words and remember to integrate specifics from class and reading


29 thoughts on “Commercialization and Social Justice (Online discussion)

  1. I think hip-hop is both useful and something that will just bring down what it’s trying to backup because it’s all on how you look at it. Like the cartoon we saw on the 18th, it showed us that hip-hop could be influential to all its consumers. When a artist puts out something that becomes a hit and expresses it be cool or hip people will follow it. Even though what was express was things that triggers are minds to be gay its still shows us that we the consumers are almost brainwashed into the media. So for that I think that if we used hip-hop in a positive matter in a politically or social justice way we, can turn commercialize hip hop into something useful. I think the main reason why people think that we cant use hip hop in a useful way is because of what hip hop is based from and that’s being the almighty man being the guy that’s on top with the money, girls, guns, and power. So If we just turn that energy around and use it in a positive matter we can use it in positive way, we just have to find a way to control its power sort of speak.

    • I agree with that is being said here, but I also think that it would be hard to do. Hip-hop has been put into a category that most people would not see as a credible source, especially within a political standpoint. I think your right to say that Hip-hop is now based off of a patriarchy-type system that glorifies men, power and money, but I think that being able to “turn that energy around” would be very hard to do. I’m not arguing that Hip-hop has a lot of power behind it and a large number of people to back it up because it definitely does. I just feel that Hip-hop has such harsh stereotypes about it that it would be extremely difficult to gain usefulness in the struggle for political power or social justice. I can think of some similarities between Hip-hop and politics though. For instance, I think there are politics in Hip-hop. Arguments between different MC’s and artists can reflect similar situations in political positions. Characteristics of Hip-hop can be found in politics too, even if it’s not the lyrics itself or the music, traces are still found like clothing, relaying information and speaking your voice. Regardless of the similarities I feel there are between Hip-hop and politics, because of Hip-hop’s history of commercialization it would make it almost impossible to see people using Hip-hop as a useful tool in a struggle for political power or social justice.

  2. I think that with the way and to the extent that hip-hop has been commercialized, it would be really hard to use it in a political standpoint. With that being said, I would also argue that hip-hop is actually present in politics to a certain extent. I feel that hip-hop can be more then just the music; it can have an aesthetic appeal to it as well. One easy example of hip-hop being visibly seen is through wearing certain clothing, to distinguish a sense of self or a label. I think politics does the same kind of thing. We see politicians spending the same amount of time deciding what they will wear for a speech then actually writing the speech itself! (Of course that might be a little drastic, but it helps illuminate my standpoint). Overall, I feel that society has dug hip-hop into a hole that is hard to get out of. Hip-hop, in a broad sense, is not seen as a tool used by many scholars or politicians to address an important issue or carry a lot of weight. I honestly think it would be very unlikely for that view to change in the near future unless the hip-hop community changes as a whole.

    • I agree with your discussion and I do think that it is hard to take something away once it’s been presented; whether it’s rights, power, acknowledgement, money, etc. It’s not easy to digress once a larger mass has accepted and reinvented what they think hip hop means and it’s not to say it can’t be done, but the medium and message will need to be that much stronger to overcome the commercialization.

  3. So long as the ‘oligarchy’ of media companies within our country can keep a sizeable portion of the community withdrawn, hip-hop will not likely get to devlop their revolutionary potential to challenge authority in a competent and directed way. And, this movement will have to accomplish this in a way that is not simply diluted by the consumer designed sounded, projected out by national market forces.
    It is due to this saturation of sound on the the consuming populous by these ‘market forces’ that hip-hop has become burdened with being neutralized from the larger struggle. Currently, the underground hip-hop movement is likely the only viable method for a version of hip-hop to still be useful for the struggle. We have seen this effect happening through the films we have watched in which sexism, violence and materialism have become what hip-hop is stigmatized to represent.

      • Yes and no to varying degrees. Film has clearly been impacted by corporate media control in similar if not equal ways to . Namely in what films and music reproduce as far as a message to the public, which has been stated as favoring sexism, violence and materialism. Art and Education are less influenced as music and film but the repercussions, particularly because just a little corporate influence on education has potentially disastrous consequences if a learning experience becomes hijacked to further a corporate agenda. Such implications can already be seen, particularly in low income/minority neighborhoods where corporate influence in the classroom is more prevalent.

        It is hard to tell exactly what this tells us, but I can assure the consequences are negative. I see few benefits from such encroachments and should the current trend continue, the situation of education and what influences the public will become more and more dire every year.

    • Sadly to say, I agree with what you are claiming. With masses of people becoming more withdrawn it becomes more of a struggle to engage them in critical thinking and critical analysis. I think that conscious and political hip-hop effectively foster both critical thinking and critical analysis. Currently political hip-hop must take a new route if they are going to excel among mainstream consumers who regularly listen to artist like 2 Chainz . That being said, it is not impossible for a movement to take off and succeed but it will take a lot of work. I think eventually the underground movement as well as other movements will continue to progress forward. Right now, we are just in the early stages of something that will be bigger in the near future. Eventually people will grow tiresome of not being able to

  4. I agree with the original point of view. I personally believe that Hip Hop has become somewhat overly commercialized, which poses a threat to its ability to take legitimate political stances. The only real music or art that I hear or see taking shots at politics are for the most part “underground.” When mainstream artists attempt to take a side on issues it seems to me that their opinion is not taken that seriously at all. A recent example is when Nicki Manaj put out her supposed opinion about Mitt Romney. It seems as if media focused more on Nicki Manaj then the actual opinion she was voicing. This shows me that Hip Hop, as a whole will have to change significantly to be taken seriously on a large scale. I think this stems from what the “big wigs” want out of the artists. In previous videos we have watched in class, almost every artist wishes they could speak about serious issues in their music, but they would never get a record deal that way. This would have to change; it is hard to take someone serious about something like women’s rights when all they have made music about in the past is taking advantage of women. Music needs to be made from the start about real issues, there cannot be any back and forth anymore if the stance is to be taken seriously.

    • Are your critiques of mainstream hip-hop any different than critiques of film — has film gotten too commercial; what about higher education? What does underground mean? Is there underground film or underground higher education? Can the criticisms teach us something bigger than has little to do with mainstream hip hop. What does reading from Clay and Petchauer teach us here?

  5. Hip-Hop has been- and still is- a powerful and useful tool for both politics and pursuing social justice. As a cultural space with millions either participating or belonging to the category of the Hip-Hop Generation, Hip-Hop is useful as a tool to spread messages to those at home and abroad through its various forms, as it connects those individuals into a broader cause and experience. I see Hip Hop as very useful, especially when used by social justice programs such as Teen Justice and Multicultural Alliance. These students from the Oakland/Bay area are able to navigate through the various intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality to bring awareness of these social inequalities to youth of all different backgrounds. By organizing the youth through programs such as the ones Clay describes, youth can begin to make specific demands and bring up discussions about the issues that matter most to them.
    Hip Hop is also seen as a useful tool by the hip hop elite, as seen by the various youth voting campaigns such as P. Diddy’s Vote or Die. I would argue however, that while Hip-Hop as seen as useful, it is often ignored by those with power, simply because of its negative connotations from media representations. Yet, isn’t it ironic that Hip-hop’s usefulness as a tool can be ignored or discredited, the same way as youth or color are ignored or criminalized by popular media and political agendas? It is important for social justice organizations and service organizations in general to begin to use Hip-Hop as a tool to connect and build solidarity between the masses of America. I believe that once Hip-Hop becomes more prevalent and commonly associated with activism, THEN will Hip-Hop and the Hip-Hop Generation become validated and more recognized as a strong , united political force.

    • I agree with you too Justin, I think that hip hop is a tool and it can either be your ladder out or your shovel to dig you deeper. Our society has just given up on themselves and have become overindulged in feeling helpless, entertained, and voiceless when the microphone has been in their hand from the jump.

    • Justin, I completely agree with your post in the aspect of Hip-Hop being used as a “tool” to help spread different messages to different individuals. Your point on how Hip-hop’s usefulness can be taken into different contexts is very true. Since there are many negative connotations towards the hip-hop industry, I agree that Hip-Hop being used as a tool can and has been ignored. Using Hip-Hop as a tool is definitely beneficial in many ways, and I agree that it does need to become recognized in the ways that you stated.

  6. I think that the commercialization in hip hop has diluted the subject matter in a huge way no more are rappers driven to change social norms or to spark a conversation. Rappers main reason in creating their music has slowly shifted towards the sole reason of making money. It’s rare for a rapper to be able to talk about social issues and still be successful on the radio. Rappers must make a consciousness decisions when making their music. There are two choices which are do they want to make change or make money. It may be that rappers don’t feel like they can make a true impact. Rappers may feel like current political structure doesn’t represent where that came form so why bother to do something themselves. The choice to make something that will be bankable wins nearly all the time. In today’s industry there is no real incentive to make music that make a real society. The major reason for this is because the majority of consumers are demanding more form their artist the lack of substance in the songs is quickly overlooked if it has a hot beat or hook. Songs that have true meaning are few and far between. Rappers fear taking risk with their music. J Cole recently stated that he was very aware that is new single would not be a radio hit but he made it to start something new that would also get people to talk as well as listen to substance. Commercialization is hip hop enemy as well as alleys

  7. I think the commercialization of hip-hop hasn’t eliminated ALL possibility of its usefulness within a struggle for political power or social justice. I will say that if an artist wants to get there voice out to the public on the radio and make a name for themselves, they probably wouldn’t make it if they start off rapping about social justice. There are some artists who talk about political business sometimes but they aren’t known as political artists. I still believe that hip-hop is a great way to open people’s minds about certain things. It doesn’t matter how many people are listening. Sometimes it just matters who’s listening. Artist like J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco etc, still talks about meaningful topics and is very known.

    • I agree with this, and there is also the fact that well known artists like Lupe and J. Cole who have political songs, but those aren’t their most popular.The songs are out there, but fans choose to gravitate towards the songs based off of materialistic aspects. There may not be a way to combat this unless the entire mainstream music industry shifts towards political and social issues, then consumers will have nothing to hype EXCEPT these issues. But I also feel that since Americans are so obsessed with consumerism, and because of technology and how quickly things are becoming “the next new thing”it will take a very long time for hip hop to make a shift towards non materialistic issues.

  8. The commercialization of hip hop hasn’t necessarily eliminated usefulness within a struggle for political power or social justice, but rather has just diminished it. We see the same song content within commercialized hip hop: partying, girls, money, lavish lifestyles etc. So, in order to utilize hip hop in a useful manner, you have to look for artists or songs that don’t support the commercial movement. The material that supports social and political movement is there, it just isn’t in the limelight. And just because it doesn’t sell, doesn’t mean that it is of poor quality. Quite the opposite. CEOs of record companies have gotten their hands on the type of music that will sell, therefore hindering the amount of creativity commercial artists can put into their publically released songs. Why is it that fans of artists are drawn towards the quality of their mixtapes rather than their record releases? It is because these artists have more freedom to say what they like to in their mixtapes and for some reason listen to their respective record companies to produce cookie cutter music in order to make money when releasing albums. Lesser known artists have the ability to craft songs that they like, and that appeal to their values. Just because commercial artists have and use their record companies as a platform to get their music out there, does not mean that the content of their songs are much better than artists who have not been discovered yet.

    • I agree with this and think that there is a huge separation between commercialized hip hop and hip hop with real political and social meaning. It is close to impossible to cater toward both sides of this issue because with the strict regulations of commercialized hip hop being set, it limits artists to only be able to say certain things and not completely speak their mind.

  9. I believe that the commercialization of hip-hop has eliminated the possibility of its usefulness for political power and social justice. From what we see now days, hip-hop speaks around a world that many people wish they lived in, a world consisted of partying, drinking, smoking, violence, and girls, nothing more and nothing less. In class, there was a video that showed aspiring artists free styling for the director. Every artist that was shown on the video talked about the same things, ranging from killing someone to getting girls. Later, the director asked if they could rap about other things besides the things we already hear through mainstream hip-hop and they responded by stating that the industry doesn’t want anything different, that that is what they wanted to hear and that’s what makes money. Artists are continually put out songs praising their money and speak about how “hard” their crew is. Not only that, but there have been more and more songs being published that degrade women by the way their displayed in music videos and how they’re spoken about in songs. There is a possibility that the commercialization of hip-hop has not eliminated that specific possibility stated in the question, however, from what we see today, it has not only been eliminated but it has disappeared.

    • I agree with Chadd here, but I do not think hip hop is completely lost. I think there is enough “underground” resistance out there that still knows what the real messages in the art needs to be. As long as this continues, hip hop still has a chance to be a legitimate factor when stating political messages. The chance for the “underground” message to become mainstream lies with the producers of the record labels, sadly. It is ultimately up to them what goes out on the radio and what does not.

      • That is true. The industry itself needs to change before we see a change in American hip-hop. The reason why I stated that hip-hop was ‘lost’ was because there has been no change whatsoever (instead of when it changed to how hip-hop is now days) and because record labels continue to put out the same music that provides a negative lifestyle choice. Until those ‘underground’ artists become noticed by these record labels, hip-hop will continue to be the way it is today.

    • I completely agree with this because it seems to me the lack of hip-hop knowledge is shown in a lot of people and all they can think about is how hip-hop displays different acts of violence, drinking, smoking, and having a good time.

  10. I believe that the commercialization of hip-hop has made little impact of understanding different political power and social justice that certain artists display. There are still artists out there that use their music to share their ideas on different political and social ideals. Artists such as Lupe Fiasco is a good example of an artist who is a commercial success yet his music still portrays to different political social ideas. His latest album “Food & Liquor II” displays an array of topics of America today and American history. But the thing is, some people don’t find these songs appealing because of the lack of knowledge that people have in terms of their thinking of what a hip-hop album should consist of. We are used to the club bangers or songs that are easy to understand and have a fun time listening to. We are now used to hip-hop providing us music that we can party to, the fancy lifestyle, talking about violence, and the women. People have a harder time connecting with commercial hip-hop that talks about the political power and social justice now so it’s all on the person to truly understand what different types of hip-hop artists and music can truly make an impact.

  11. Yes, and no. I believe that commercialization of hip-hop DID eliminate the possibility of its usefulness within a struggle for political power or social justice, at least the way it is seen today. The limit on what can be played on the radio by major record labels will only allow for certain types of music to be played on the air. What people who simply listen to radio music hear is what they know hip-hop to be. Unfortunately, this is the majority of what people who don’t like hip-hop and the everyday radio listener hear. Political and social struggles within a song do not get major airplay and therefore are not associated with hip-hop. However, with rise of hip-hop in other parts of the world, it is possible for a new view on hip-hop to emerge and eventually evolve into a new worldview on hip-hop that will change how we operate in America, at least to an extent. There is always still the possibility of Americans growing tired of this form of hip-hop due to changing times and interests, as well as a revolution within the industry for artists to stand up and say what they believe. Hip-hop has proven to be an art form of inspiration and fuel for standing up to injustice with activists such as Assata Shakur, someone who has a 1 million dollar bounty on her head just for fighting what she believes in. Hip hop activists such as Shakur hold the hope and fire for the possibility of hip-hops re-emergence as an outlet for struggle to be heard.

    • I agree with Taylor. I think that a majority of the population hears songs on the radio and thinks that is what hip hop is all about; sex, money and drugs. That is the type of music that the commercialization of hip hop has produced in our society. I also agree that hip hop emerging in other parts of the world, like in Palestine, could possibly bring new views on hip hop. However, people must be informed and aware of all types of hip hop to understand its not all about sex, and few people truly are. Unless major record labels and producers allow more political hip hop to be played on the radio and distributed to the greater population, I don’t think much will change.

  12. The commercialization of Hip-Hop, I believe, was a great thing for the industry. It helped to bring awareness to the genre of music, and although all the publicity is in the mainstream, it still brings new listeners and consumers. Aside from bringing awareness to Hop-Hop it also pumped money and support into the art form. This helped to increase the amount of individuals who both consume and create Hip-Hop. So, Hip-Hop’s role in the struggle of political power and social justice was actually enhanced by the commercialization of the art form. Without the commercialization of Hip-Hop you would have a substantially smaller market to deliver your message about political power and social justice. Although some argue that the commercialization of Hip-Hop took away the purity of the art, the realness of Hip-Hop still exists its just a matter of finding it. Even when mainstream might not use Hip-Hop and it influence to its fullest there are still plenty of underground artists who remain “real.” Overall the commercialization of Hip-Hop brought more awareness and opportunity into the industry. Now Hip-Hop is one of the worlds most popular music genre; allowing millions of individuals to create movements about social justice, political power, and other issues.

    • I agree with your stance on the commercailization of hip-hop. It has elevated it’s status from barely known to world renowned. the only downfall of the commercial success is that the content has continually taken a hit. The majority of people want to hear about chains, cars, and bitches, so artists began to taylor their songs to what the people wanted. Some people would say that the commercailization was the beginning of the end of hip-hop. Thee same people believe that the only real hip-hop left is that of the illusive underground.

  13. I don’t completely believe that the commercialization of hip hop has eliminated the possibility of its usefulness within politics. I do however think it has made it more difficult since the corporate media is in control of a majority of the music that is produced today. Of course the artists who have the power and influence to affect people and politics in a positive way are the ones rapping about sex, money and drugs. Most hip hop that speaks towards politics is coming from more underground artists, usually coming from ghettos where there is political oppression and poverty. Most of these artists however, don’t have a big enough voice to make a difference, even though their music may be sending out a better message or may be more useful within a struggle for political power, than a more famous artist who has made their name in society. Since the commercialization of hip hop is all about what will sell and what won’t and since sex sells in today’s society, that’s the type of music that is being produced, that’s the type of music that is going to make them the most money. Those are the type of people that could have an effect on politics, but they don’t use their power for that and I don’t think any of that is going to change anytime soon either.

  14. The commercialization of hip hop has in a way eliminated its usefulness within a struggle for political power or social justice because hip hop these days is all about making money and living a celebrity lifestyle. Even though there are some artists out there who rap about political issue, it usually doesn’t go mainstream because thats not what sells. There are some hip hop artists that voice their opinion on serious topics but most artist are trying to go on the current social norms in todays music. The style of their music is more important than substance. As we’ve talked about in class a lot of people don’t even actually listen to the lyrics. They are more concerned if it has a catchy beat or something to dance to. So artists and record companies have picked up on this and they want to put out something that sells. It might be hard for some people to take hip hop artists seriously when they talk about politics or social justice after seeing or hearing about what kind of life style they are living. I agree with what other people have said that hip hop has become all about sex and money and fancy jewelry and I don’t think it will change anytime soon.

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