Hip Hop

By: McKenzie
                                                           Topic Selection Paper

            Hip-hop music has continued to be a fashionable sensation in popular culture and I have always had an interest on how it has changed throughout the years. Hip-hop started out in the Bronx and has become a worldwide social phenomenon in various aspects of life within our society. This type of music plays an important role in contemporary popular culture because it influences many diverse groups of people and it has become a large moneymaking industry nonetheless. If we study the trends, styles, popularity, attitudes, and more we will be able to get a closer glimpse of how hip-hop has changed in recent years and how these changes are significant in popular culture.

            From the beginning, hip-hop music was quite underground until more recent years where it has become more industrialized and mass consumed in our culture. Hip-hop has transitioned from being an underground type of music to a more mainstream type. This has complete relevance to our readings about popular culture as a ‘mass culture’ and a mainstream part of our everyday lives with all of the advertisements we interact with in some way or another. Hip-hop is a phenomenon that takes culture, emotion, attitudes, behavior, and expression all combined in one genre of music. A lot of hip-hop today is extremely vulgar, for example Eminem, talks poorly about his ex wife and about killing her in his songs. Hip-hop hasn’t always been so vulgar but it has most definitely taken a turn within the last decade.

Many people feel they are individually connected to the music, or even the artist because they are listeners. However, although these listeners may feel they have an individual connection with the music, from our readings we discover this feeling actually is in context with the idea of “pseudo-individualization.” Hip-hop listeners feel they are individually connected with the music/artist but in reality they are one with the crowd following the latest trends in popular culture. It also ties in with Horkheimer and Adorno and their beliefs that standardization and pseudo-individualization make society feel free when really this is not the case as consumption and engagement in popular culture takes our freedom away. Quite frequently, people listen to music to get away from the troubles of life and use it to distract them from the true and constant worries they face everyday. We all know that music can pull you away and keep your mind off of life’s bothers, but only for a limited time. I think studying hip-hop as a topic in class has relevance to what we have been reading about popular culture, evident in the examples above.

Hip-hop as a phenomenon in particular is worth studying because it is a moneymaking industry in many different forms of popular culture. Hip-hop is not only a type of music, but it has evolved and become a type of dance most popular in dance clubs. Hip-hop can be what we wear, for example, the trends of the saggy jeans and the oversized t-shirts we see on the rap artists. It can be a method of expression and can influence our emotions and feelings whether it is slower-paced R&B or an angry head-throbbing song. Hip-hop can even change our attitudes and outlooks as we are fed the lyrics through various forms of media. MTV, one of TV’s most popular channels brings hip-hop to life by playing the hottest music videos for hours on end. And not to forget one of the largest awards shows in the world, the MTV Music Video Awards where the most popular artists receive winning titles, resulting in more fame and more riches in the pop culture industry. It is apparent that hip-hop music is a commercial culture as is almost every phenomenon in popular culture today.

            I feel that studying hip-hop music would be an interesting phenomenon to consider because many people can relate to it. Even if a person doesn’t enjoy listening to the music, they know about what it entails and are understanding of the ideologies that are associated with hip-hop. Studying how hip-hop has changed throughout the years illustrates the popularity shifts in history and how these shifts have affected and changed the big picture of popular culture. Pop culture is constantly changing and things that were once “popular” and “in” move quickly out the door, but hip-hop music continues to be a significant piece of culture within our society.


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