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Pop Culture Meets Hip-Hop

Essay by   •  December 13, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,207 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,232 Views

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Pop Culture Meets Hip-Hop

Popular culture, otherwise known as "Pop Culture," is defined by Encarta's Online Encyclopedia as values that come from advertising, the entertainment industry, the media, and icons of style and are targeted to the ordinary people of today's society. Some of the more influencing displays of pop culture today include movies, teen icons, clothing, celebrities, sports, and one of the most influential things, music.

The music industry plays a huge role in today's society from many different angles. Most people listen to music everyday, rather it be while driving, working out, or just relaxing. It is the biggest form of leisure for people in the world today. Music can sometimes influence the way people dress, who they hang out with or look up to, and even sometimes the way you act. The people of pop music are some of today's biggest role models here in America.

When I use the word pop music, I am using it very loosely. By pop music, I am not just singling out Jessica Simpson and Justin Timberlake. I am using it in a broad manner, talking about all popular music, which includes anything from the last two mentioned, to rap's 50 Cent and Eminem, as well as country's Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. I consider pop music to be any music played on the radio or on MTV. Today I plan on breaking down music into pop music, and breaking that down into hip-hop music and the influence of it in today's culture.

Encarta defines hip-hop as a type of popular culture that includes rap music, dance styles, graffiti art, and fashion. According to causticdames.com, hip-hop roots back to West Africa, to a group of traveling singers and poets, whose musical style is reminiscent of hip-hop, called griots. Today's background of hip-hop actually arose in the 1970's in New York. HeadBob.com states that hip-hop truly came to be when DJ Kool Herc bought two copies of the same record, and played them 15 seconds apart on two different record players, and mixing them back and fourth, inventing turntables. In 1976, Grandmaster Flash introduced this technique to the world, and in 1979, Sugarhill Gang introduced the first rap song, "Rapper's Delight." This was the beginning of hip-hop music.

Over the past 35 years or so, hip-hop has emerged to be on of the most popular forms of music. Artists such as James Brown, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Salt-N-Peppa, and especially Run-DMC recording with rock star Aerosmith, the record

"Walk This Way," put hip-hop on the map. Until the late 1980's, hip-hop was on the good side of society after revolutionizing a new, jazzy, genre of music. Then things started to go bad.

A group called NWA which included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E, made a song called "Cop Killers." The song eventually got banned but not before it made a huge impact on society. This was when rap began to have a bad rep. Some people started to follow this "gangster" approach while others protested against it. The gangster and thug approach stuck around as Tupac Shakur became the next biggest name in the hip-hop world. He eventually was considered one of the top two rappers ever, along with the late Notorious Biggie Smalls. This gangster thug image stuck around until the East Coast and West Coast began to have conflicts, or what the rap game called beef, until each of them were murdered and left with no links to their killers. Ever since the two killings, rap has mellowed out some, yet the gangster image is still around.

Also during the mid-80's, a group called 2 Live Crew was introduced into mainstream rap. They were known for using very explicit lyrics. So much to the fact that when they put out their third album titled As Nasty As They Want To Be, the song "Me So Horny" caused so much controversy that the RIAA, or Recording Industry Association of America, created the Parental Advisory label. According to riaa.com, "this agreement specified that music releases which contain explicit lyrics, including explicit depictions of violence and sex, be identified so parents can make intelligent listening choices for their children."

The hip-hop culture is not only an African American culture. Caucasians and Latin Americans are also very big into hip-hop. A few examples of that are the Beastie Boys, Eminem, and Fat Joe. Those three names made a huge impact on the spreading of race throughout rap and hip-hop. This is very important because it keeps America that much farther away from racial boundaries.

Another big impact hip-hop has had on American culture is through fashion. It started out with things such as M.C. Hammers baggy, neon wind-pants and box-cut hairdo. People like what they see their idols wearing and model after them. Today's hip-hop fashion has become so big that rappers are coming out with their own clothing label. Jay-Z and his Roc-A-Fella label put out their clothing brand Roca-A-Wear. 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew have their own G-Unit clothing line along with Eminem and his Shady Wear. Even the less mainstream rappers like The Roots have a clothing line called LRG, which stands for Lifted Research Group and just like their music, the more mainstream they become the more mainstream their clothing line is becoming. This line of clothing consists of jerseys, tank-tops, big-logo t-shirts, oversized hats, and everything fitting baggy. African American's are taking advantage of this new urban style and are making a giant market out of it. There are far more urban style clothing stores in Greenville alone now then there were even two years ago including Cap's and Brick City, not to mention all of the other stores at the Colonial Mall.

One of the other latest styles in hip-hop fashion now is dressing preppy. Some of the artists who started this were Kanye West, P. Diddy's sidekick Bentley, Common, and Andre 3000. This line of fashion consists of sweaters, polo's with "popped collars," suits, and umbrellas.

This has apparently been noticed as the proper fashion as of late in the eyes of the NBA Commissioner David Stern. As of this NBA season, 2005-2006, the players can no longer wear the original hip-hop gear to and from the gymnasium. This means that they can not wear jerseys, large chains, hats, sweat suits, or any other "form of hip-hop wear" to and from the games. Stern is making them either wear suits or shirts and ties because he says that the NBA is becoming too accustomed to the "gangster and thug image" (nba.com). This is causing a minor controversy because the players don't feel that he should have any say on what they wear to and from work, and that it is like them telling Stern that he isn't

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