Hip Hop and Capitalism

Hip Hop and Capitalism

An exploration of the relationship between Hip Hop and Capitalism
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Hip hop was founded in the trenches of the South Bronx, “born from the ashes of a community devastated by a capitalist economic system and racist government officials”(Ide). Hip hop originally consisted of four elements including DJing, b-boying, graffiti, and emceeing. Hip hop culture itself was ingrained with a do it yourself ethos with young artists creating beats and music out of their parent’s old records through the art of sampling. However, as hip hop developed emceeing became the predominant focus with other practices falling out of prominence.

Many posit hip hop as a continuation of old African oral tradition “in a long-standing history of oral historians, lyrical fetishism, and political advocacy” (Blanchard). As a reflection of disenfranchisement and discontent with the dominant ideology, hip hop’s origins aren’t much different than other forms of protest music such as punk and ska in that “Rap has developed as a form of resistance to the subjugation of working-class African-Americans in urban centers” (Blanchard). Furthermore, hip hop’s rise was caused by the “fading of the nonviolent civil rights movement and the subsequent black power movement, a massive restructuring from the failed Keynesian economic policies of state-interventionism to neo-liberal, trickle down economics” (Ide).

Thus, in its original state hip hop was against the dominant ideology of society, instead siding with radical elements within the black power movement which included groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In most cases, hip hop facilitated an exchange between “ young, black youth who aspired to spit rhymes and find a way out of their seemingly despondent condition would be introduced to nascent white record executives” (Ide) in which the record executives would receive most of the revenue. On a larger scale rap artists are often forced to sell their labor power and receive little money in return owing to record labels which often leave “artists and groups such as U2 only receive about 10% of the revenue generated from their music and products” (Ostrove 19).

The material processes behind the production of hip hop music has informed the content of mainstream hip hop at large. Mainstream hip hop refers to hip hop which is easily accessible to the public and oftentimes played on the radio and other musical avenues. This is shown in that popularized hip hop often bears a "glamorized, commercialized image, made familiar through every aspect of pop culture and privately centralized radio stations, is viewed by some as a justification for the prevailing "boot strap"ideology” (Ide). This image seeks to promote a dominant ideology of materialism and the mythical American dream.

The commercialization of rap is largely responsible for widespread critiques of hip hop as a genre without socially relevant content but instead one containing grandiose displays of hypermasculinity, hypersexuality and rampant materialism in the form of jewelry, cars, as well as other luxury items. Increasingly, “corporate America's infatuation with rap has increased as the genre's political content has withered” (Blanchard) and “newer acts are focused almost entirely on pathologies within the black community. They rap about shooting other blacks, but almost never about challenging governmental authority or encouraging social activism” (Blanchard). Through engaging in capitalism and the dominant means of production, hip hop’s content has come to reflect the dominant ideology of the United States rather than proposing radical change or revolution.

This dominant ideology is one of “shallow, corporate images of thugs, drugs, and racial and gender prejudices filled with both implicitly and explicitly hegemonic undertones and socially constructed stereotypes” (Ide). This is easily observable by listening to most mainstream hip hop artists including prominent Atlanta rapper Future. On his latest album, “HNDRXXX” which features excessive bouts of misogyny and drug usage particularly promethazine Future objectifies women, rapping “Any time I got you, girl you my possession”. The creation of this image and increasing commodification of rap is supported by “record companies demand to control more than just the sound recordings.

Most major labels now control all of the image and branding rights associated with the artist, which includes merchandising, sponsorships, and touring” (Ostrove 3). The tendency of record companies to secure expanded-rights deals is due to the rise in internet piracy of music which leaves both the record labels and artists with less revenue. This increasing exploitation and ownership of the artist’s work has spurred artists to refuse record deals.

The most prominent example in modern hip hop right now is Chance the Rapper. Chance the Rapper received national prominence with his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap without the backing of a major label. With the release of Coloring Book this past year, Chance the Rapper made history by becoming the first artist to win a Grammy based on a mixtape.

This is important in that unsigned artists are no longer seen as social deviants or denied the positive sanctions that come with critical acclaim and Grammy nominations. Next, alternatives to major labels continue to emerge such as “Rhymesayers Entertainment is another independent hip-hop label that allows artists to maintain control over their own music, brand, and image” (Ostrove 15) and “ The Hieroglyphics, which consists of seven rappers, a DJ, and a producer, is a LLC where all members are equal owners.” (Ostrove 14) This is important in that these two labels allow the artist to create their own image and brand rather than emulate the prevailing social norms within mainstream hip hop.

The future of hip hop and its relationship to corporate America remains to be seen. The rise of the internet has seen a resurgence in the original, do it yourself ethic of hip hop. Through the internet “musicians who previously needed the capital and resources of major record labels can now create, record, produce, and distribute music completely independently.” (Ostrove 3) This means that less and less artists are signing to major labels or participating in the music industry.This can be seen in several cases. In 2010, the Los Angeles collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All became one of the first groups to gain prominence based solely on internet fame. Their mass following was cultivated through Tumblr, YouTube, and article features in online publications such as Complex Magazine. Rather than sign to a major label Odd Future creator, Tyler the Creator founded an independent record label under Sony Music Entertainment’s RED Distribution. Since then, hip hop has seen the rise of many such acts including Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, Denzel Curry, Bones, and Yung Lean among others. Although these acts rarely remain independent, prior to signing they often receive revenue through touring and selling merchandise.
Cover Image Credit: http://wallpapercave.com/wp/wp1862104.png

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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5 Reasons Why The Saints Are Inbound To Win The Super Bowl

With the Saints rolling this year, there are 5 crucial reasons why they have a great chance to make the Superbowl.

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When you're reading this is February, you're gonna ask yourself, "How did he know?" I'm a wizard; that's why I know the Saints are going to the Superbowl this year. I'm just kidding, but in all seriousness, I can say with confidence that the Saints have one of the better chances in the NFL to make it to the Superbowl. Below are 5 reasons why they'll make the Superbowl in February 2019.

1. Breesus Christ

The Saints have Drew "freaking" Brees. I literally do not need to say more, but I will anyway.

Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the league period. He will break the record for most passing yards in a career this season, and he has the record for highest completion percentage. To all the people that say Tom Brady is better, you're wrong. Tom Brady has always had a defense to rely on when he needed; Drew Brees hasn't.

Whenever the Saints need Brees, he's always there. The Saints rely on him to get them out of big holes and us Saints fans know that he's the best QB in the league and will lead us to another Superbowl this year.

2. Lighting and Thunder

Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram being the best running back duo in the league isn't new news. We saw all of last season that Ingram was a bruiser and Kamara was a shifty back. They form a lighting and thunder duo. This season, Ingram has been suspended for the first four games and the Saints were still able to go 3-1. Just imagine how great the Saints are going to be when Ingram comes back this week. It's going to be SCARY.

How do defenses stop Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and Thomas? Defenses beware because the Saints are marching in.

3. Can't Guard Mike

Michael Thomas has been unstoppable this year. No one can guard him. In my opinion he's the best receiver in the league, and while others disagree, they can't deny the impact Thomas has had for the Saints. With the best QB in the league, Thomas is in a prime position to lead a major push to the Superbowl for the Saints. When the offense is rolling, no one can stop the Saints. Cornerbacks can prepare as hard as they need, but they can't guard Mike.

4. Boonk Gang

The Saints defense made major strides last year and helped propel them to many wins. If not for a freak play that resulted in the Saints losing in the divisional round, I believe the Saints would have moved on to the Superbowl. While the defense has been pretty bad at the beginning of the season, in week three, the Saints defense showed what they are capable of. With Ingram coming back and controlling the pace of the offense, watch for the defense to get much better through the season.

5. "Put me in Coach Payton"

Sean Payton may be the second best coach in the league after Bill Belichick.

Coach Payton has had the Saints offense in the top 10 offenses every single year since he became head coach in 2006. With his offensive creativity and his ability to use players such as backup QB Taysom Hill in positions where no other coach would dare to use them, Coach Payton will be the driving force in leading the Saints to the Superbowl.

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