Hip Hop and Capitalism

Hip Hop and Capitalism

An exploration of the relationship between Hip Hop and Capitalism

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.

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13 Reasons Why Season 2 Of 'Riverdale' Will Never Live Up To The First

Maybe it's just that I had too high of expectations, but season 2A was a disaster.

I still remember finishing the last episode of season one of "Riverdale" and having to take a moment to understand what I had just witnessed. From Fred Andrews being shot to a father killing his own son because of a dark secret, there were so many details that I (and many other "Riverdale" fans) could agree made season one so gripping. So being a huge fan of the show, I was naturally excited to hear that season 2A was coming out sooner than I'd expected. Maybe it was the fact that I had too high of expectations, but season two was a disaster. And although I know most of these will be unpopular opinions, here are 13 reasons why season two will will never reach the level that the first season did.

Warning: there are spoilers ahead!


1. The teenagers are supposed to be sophomores. Sophomores!

The casting itself is not the issue, but the things the Core Four does outside of school are way beyond what sophomores do. First of all, sophomores don't have that much of a love life to be spending all of their time with their significant others. Secondly, the Core Four act like they know everything. Jughead believes he doesn't need anyone to take care of him and lives in a trailer by himself at 16 years old. Betty repeatedly disrespects her mother as if she's the head of the household (which I will get to in a second), and Veronica, though she swears she's trying to be a better person, insults anyone who begs to disagree with her. Again, especially with her parents. Finally, Archie thinks he's old enough to possess a firearm and walk around in the Southside owning the place. I definitely think the writers are forgetting just how immature the crew should really be.

2. The plot steered away from their lives as high school children.

Now, I know that the show is returning back to their high school lives in the second part of season two, but that's still not much of an excuse for the fact that high school was literally thrown out of the season 2A. Wasn't one of the best scenes in season one a dance-off between Veronica and Cheryl in the gym? Didn't Mrs. Grundy's plot line annoy everyone while attracting their attention at the same time? Why didn't their high school lives continue?

3. Veronica and Betty are too disrespectful to their parents. Especially Betty.

Being sophomores, they're all supposed to be around 16 to 17 years old. And they treat their parents like children. On Veronica's side, I have a bit of sympathy because her mother is willing to put her daughter through anything to get what she wants, and her father is notorious for how harsh he is. But with Betty, I expected better. Alice Cooper may be controlling, but she shows how much she loves Betty every time she worries about her safety, especially concerning the Black Hood. She wants her daughter safe, but her daughter doesn't see the pain that she feels.

4. Did they just completely forget Jason existed?

Hello? Jason may have passed away, but has his spirit disappeared from the show? I get that since he's gone, he shouldn't be the number one concern, but what happened to all this season one emphasis on keeping him in mind?

5. What is going on with Jughead? Are they together or not?

Yeah, yeah. I know they officially broke up, but before that? I had to stop at some points and literally ask out loud, "Are they together or not?" Betty wanted to distance herself from Jughead because of the Black Hood, but after that? Were they broken up after she told Archie to tell that to Jughead? Because I can definitely tell that saying "I love you" and constantly hugging don't exactly equate with being broken up.

6. Where's Polly when you need her?

Bye, Polly! Guess once you've left, no one really remembers you exist anymore.
On another note, the fan theories about Polly being the Black Hood are pretty interesting.

7. There are too many characters who are mentioned and never seen.

In simpler terms, we've had to wait too long! Chic Cooper and Jellybean Jones are who I'm talking about here, but Chic is coming to the show soon. All this waiting has really bored me because you hear their names thrown around on the show, and you feel giddy because you think they're going to appear. But they don't, and you can't help but feel disappointed.

8. Cheryl is a complex character who isn't emphasized enough.

I was actually excited to hear more from Cheryl because I'd only realized how biased my opinion against her was after finishing season one. She makes an appearance here and there, but I'd always wanted to know more about her complex relationships with her other family members and the specific backstory for why she was willing to help some of the same people she was constantly rude to.

9. Unpopular Opinion: Veronica doesn't know her place.

I never liked Veronica, but this season strengthened my dislike for her. She vowed to be a better person by coming to Riverdale, but she really isn't. She's still got those qualities of being a bully, like using insults as a defense mechanism and treating even the people close to her like trash. This description of her is biased, though, so it obviously doesn't include the good parts of her personality.

10. The children manipulate their parents too much to be considered family.

This is a little different from before since this is more than just disrespect. Cheryl's relationship with her mother is a prime example of this, but I agree that her mother deserves the hate she gets from both Cheryl and "Riverdale" fans. Cheryl used the money Penelope "earned" to blackmail her into telling Cheryl about the Sugarman, also relating to how Cheryl was helping someone she was also rude to. In Cheryl's case, I completely get how Penelope deserves it. But personally, I don't think Hermione Lodge is as bad as Penelope because she would save her daughter from a fire unlike Penelope would've done. Whenever Veronica threatens or manipulates her mother, I simply can't help but dislike Veronica more and more.

11. Varchie is too much of a physical relationship and almost nothing else.

"Varchie" is the fanbase's name for Veronica and Archie's relationship, and in my opinion, I'm disgusted by their relationship. It's nothing more than the physical aspect, and neither Archie nor Veronica understands the commitment it takes to make a relationship work on the emotional side. Archie is too dumb for it, and Veronica doesn't seem to want more than what they currently have. I'm glad they broke up because c'mon, did we really think they were going to get anywhere? They obviously didn't think so.

12. It's okay to not say "I love you" back.

I don't get how Archie can say "I love you" to Veronica and suddenly not bring himself to even look at her when she doesn't say it back. Is it really that bad that she can't say it? Before anything else, it's not like they were even close to being in love, and on top of that, it's okay to not reciprocate the other person's feelings. It doesn't make Veronica a despicable person and Archie a saint. It mean that they're on different wavelengths and need time apart to understand that they don't need to say those words to make the relationship work.

13. The plot itself just lacks the substance that the first season had with Jason's death.

Jason's death was a mystery that involved everyone in the Core Four, and it also played into their high school lives. Multiple times when I was watching the show, I was too bored to want to finish the episodes because there were too many plots going on simultaneously. The Core Four were too distant from each other, relationship statuses were a mess and there were inconsistencies in character personalities, especially concerning Cheryl. The plot didn't attract my attention. I didn't feel connected to the show, making it extremely difficult to enjoy.


In the end, I don't hate "Riverdale." I'm just really disappointed that I wasn't wowed like the first season had me. But because season 2B is meant to be more centered on their personal lives at school, I'll definitely be watching to see if I was wrong. Maybe season two will blow me away.

Cover Image Credit: Netflix / Riverdale

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The Start of Classes, Told By Clueless

Ugh, as if.

Classes at the University of Miami started today, and everyone seems to be just as disheartened and stressed as me. Here are my feelings on the topic told by my favorite study break movie, "Clueless".

1. 8 AMs

Or 9 AMs, or 10 AMs, or any classes at all.

2. Deciding how far into the semester is the right time to miss class

Maybe give it a week.

3. When you have a pop quiz on the first lecture

Not fair.

4. When you hear the attendance policy


2 missed classes = a lower grade ???

5. Finding a friend in class


College classes need a study buddy.


Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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