D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Friday, May 14, 2004

Consumer Culture & Hip Hop

Josh Koenig and da bookman, respectively raised two very strong points: How consumer culture is widely influenced by broadcast media and how in other countries, Hip Hop culture is employed on a more political level while in the states it is a more personal experience. Both of these occurrences shouldn't be a shock to young America; it is beyond obvious that the down-your-throat-and-accept-it nature of MTV and BET further impacts Mr. Koenig's point about media influence.

I'm sure many of you reading have been victim to the droning effects of commercials on both the radio and television -- not fully grasping why you went to the mall and spent mindlessly but in this brutal assault on our ability to choice, it does happen quite a bit. It comes as little surprise why certain musical acts enjoy success on major airways these days; every station seems to be controlled by Clear Channel or Radio One and there exists no shame in these radio stations repeating the same 10 songs every hour on the hour. Not to discredit anyone's attempt at art but J-Kwon's "Tipsy" should not have been a top 10 hit on any level but the barrage of hearing it 20 times a day has taken hold. I've even found myself saying the infectious chorus against my will.

Hip Hop's social roots are historically recorded. From the early 70s until now, it has proved to be an entity of refuge for many. Of course, Hip Hop culture is more segregated than ever and that is truly reflective of the way things are in this country currently. You have your commercial pop acts, and then there are your grimy underground acts, moving from there to the more "organic" poetic sound and so forth and so on. Each particular sound has a built in niche audience and there has been little reason to galvanize all of the forces for one. It is amazing to read how in Brazil, England and other countries how whole Hip Hop concerts are built about political movement and resistance but here in the states, we're doing summer jams for Pepsi and Budweiser. Yes, these large companies reportedly give back to urban areas and youth charities, but it is replete with the looming specter of commercialism and consumerism.

As a unifying force, music and informational sites like MFA can do a lot to bridge a slew of communication gaps. As we of the so-called Generation X get older, we have to realize that those kids coming up behind us are the youth movement now. We can't underestimate the importance of that movement and we need to construct ways to help them get involved. MFA and other organizations have the right idea in getting the youth involved in democracy and participation. Hip Hop music and culture is about being fresh, innovative and provocative. The ideas behind political movements need to mirror those same ideals. To meld movement and music, it takes consistency and a real desire to change.

We will see in the coming months if that challenge can be met.

For an interesting read, check out

With Peace,


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