Thinking Outside the Box w/ Dave House:
No Love & Hip Hop: Drama & Suspense are the New Elements of Hip Hop
What is Hip Hop Culture today? What is the commodity? Anyone who asks this question is a person who doesn’t want to embrace the change of Hip Hop as it has evolved into world culture that dominates television, urban, and rhythmic radio. If a person accepts today’s answer to what is Hip Hop then they were born in the 90s or they are someone who knows better yet they are capitalizing off of the new definition of our culture to benefit an established corporation who is cutting checks. Let’s analyze and think outside the box.
With social media providing the real time discussion of Hip Hop similar to how a meeting ground for the culture was the block, the lunch room, or the college dorm, the commodity of Hip Hop as we know became suspense and drama and very little to do with music or the arts. Matter of fact, music is the last thing on the minds of the majority who actually have a voice and an outlet of opinion in Hip Hop. As I said last week’s Thinking Outside the Box entry: DJs cannot play radio rants in the clubs. Without the music, there is no commodity that will give a person a reason to continue to subscribe.
Suspense: Like Family Feud, Jeopardy, The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune, Hip Hop has taken the suspense route as a new element of the culture. Without suspense, radio stations, Hip Hop news websites will have nothing to discuss, because they are not promoting new music: which was the old commodity of Hip Hop and the reason why you never know when a album is coming out. Instead of hearing about who was the best emcee: Biggie, Jay Z, or Nas, the Hip Hop fan is more interested in what will be the response from one rapper to the next. Like a game show holds the suspense from the audience on whether the contestant can pick the prize that is in door numbers one, two, and three, the Hip Hop audience is at the edge of their seats waiting on the next incident to occur and what rappers were involved, sometimes at the expense of lives and reputation. Listen to interviewers of Hip Hop websites who fail to do research on the artist they are interviewing and how they ask questions about their opinions on something not related to why the artist is being interviewed in the first place. Whatever it takes to add on to the suspense element of the culture is what holds the interest of today’s Hip Hop fan and turns an unskilled interviewer into Tom Brokaw.
Drama: Like soap operas from the 80s and 90s, drama in Hip Hop culture is a new element that replaces good music that makes Pearl from the TV sitcom, 227, seem like a prophet for the way she spoke up everyone else’s business at the comfort of her apartment window. This is why reality television can keep an audience. The drama is shown on national television that showcases adults Hip Hop in its most child-like form. The episodes are rehashed and spoken about on radio shows across the country as primary content and followed up on twitter & Facebook with comments from the target audience, who obviously outnumber those who just aren’t interested in drama. Club promoters book the reality “stars” to their clubs during the season of the reality show for market share purposes to the point where you would think that VH-1 is giving out 360 deals where Viacom reaps some of the profits that reality “stars” get for these appearances.
Why is this of concern to you? Without the music, there isn’t any culture. Suspense and drama cannot carry a culture where profit can be earned if you are genuine to the platform that got you interested in Hip Hop in the first place. Soap operas are cancelled. Game shows are cancelled. It’s only but so much reality show topics that can be rehashed before the culture will be cancelled if this becomes apart of the elements that define what is Hip Hop. The clubs are now a meeting place for drama to ensue and the radio station is foundation on where suspense is driven to keep the listeners tuned in. Once there is nothing to report, then there goes all the elements that keeps the culture alive, therefore canceling out the culture of Hip Hop altogether. As long as Viacom is cutting the checks, people who actually have the power to take a stand against what is the obvious destruction of our culture will be silent.
After 30 years of Hip Hop, there should have been wiser investments where the people that put this thing together would own the culture. Since we are waiting for the “next check” to be cut, we will sell out the culture in the name of profit and re format the interest level until it becomes no more. In effort to destroy a movement you divide and conquer. The division is already in place where you have the young vs. the old, good music vs. suspense & drama, and morals and ethics vs. a quick check and extra publicity, bloggers vs. djs, bouncers vs. black or fat people.
Where do you fit in, in all of this, determines how long you will last in this business too.
Dave House is the Author of Street Rules in the Office: The Beginner's Guide to Focus in the Music Biz Available July 11, 2012