Hip-hop music is a genre that has often been criticized for having violent and sexual lyrics. It is also one of the most popular music genres. In recent weeks, more than 30 of the songs on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 have been hip-hop.
“I think it is popular among college students and the youth because hip hop is still relatively fresh, similar to rock in the 1960s,” said Bradley Bishop, the owner of The Lyric in Oxford.
And like rock in the 60s, some oppose the musical genre. In the U.K. for example, The Guardian recently reported that five universities have banned the playing of the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thick, Pharrell Williams and T.I. because ‘the song undermines and degrades women” and “It promotes rape.”
Professor Cooper Owens, an African American studies professor at Ole Miss, says that the major corporations are largely responsible for helping to promote songs like “Blurred Lines.”
“There are all these flavors of hip hop.” Owens said. “But, and I’ll blame this on marketing and all that too, they’ve realized there’s a very particular narrative in hip hop and when I say ‘they.’ I mean the corporations that put it out: BMI, Sony, the folks who make money off of producing this stuff. There’s a certain narrative that folks like. The celebration of wealth, the celebration of partying, this very hedonistic, carefree party atmosphere and so hip hop has really become centered on that.”
Cooper Owens says that narrative has always been popular with the younger crowd.
“Hip hop, like rock n roll before it, celebrates rebellion. It celebrates all these things that you’re not supposed to do, but also, more importantly, hip hop is marketed toward young folks. It’s already doing what young folks want and young folks are being told this is what you want. So, it’s everywhere.”
According to Bishop, hip hop is one of the top-selling music genres at The Lyric; second only to country music.
“I think hip-hop shows do so well and are popular because they appeal to a broad swath of concert goers and cut across a lot of demographics. They are by far our most integrated audiences. You might have country fans, indie music fans, electronic fans that all will listen to some hip hop, and that translates into a broader audience buying tickets.” Bishop said.
Is hip hop too violent and sexual to be played on the radio and at public concerts? Or is it simply another music genre that brings people from many different backgrounds together? You can check that out for yourself. The next show at The Lyric with some appeal to hip-hop fans is set for Nov. 7, featuring MiMOSA, a producer who makes electronic, house, hip-hop beats.
Anthony Dicandia is a journalism student with the Meek School of Journalism and New Media
You can contact Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org