M. K. Asante’s “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post-Hip-Hop Generation” discusses not only the hip-hop music that people are familiar with. He goes deeper and explores the social and cultural aspects of the hip-hop generation. …
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He presents a historical timeline from 1965 to 1991 of the hip hop generation which shows the various struggles of the Black people during the period. In his book, Asante interviews hip hop artists and college students to get their views about the hip hop generation. He emphasizes some of his points by quoting famous personalities who sympathizes with the Blacks such as Martin Luther King and Richard Nixon. A major topic discussed by Asante in his book is racial discrimination. Though not directly, he exposes some of the experiences of the black people with regards to racial discrimination. He talks about slavery and the Blacks’ efforts to be recognized equally as the white men of society. Asante highlights that even to this day, the stereotypes of African Americans still exist. With the help of mass media, the Blacks are still being perceived as gangsters, prisoners, pimps and savages. These images perpetuated frequently by media claims justification for the Blacks’ oppression. Asante probably hopes that through his book, there will be an increase awareness in the real Black personalities and culture and not one which relies on the stereotype images that makes other Americans look down on the Blacks. In Chapter 2 of Asante’s book, he talks about what is real vs. what is reel. He illustrates this by talking about the two brothers who maintain separate identities at home and on the streets. One agrees with Asante that because of the stereotype image of the Blacks, they tend to be two different personalities to be accepted by both the Black community and the greater American community. It is indeed an issue, even among the post hip hop generation because they are left into a quandary as to who they really are and what is their authentic culture. In Chapter 6, Asante points out that it is not really the Black people who own hip hop, instead it is the “old white men” who are the owners of the big record companies namely Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Group and Warner Music Group. Although most hip hop artists are predominantly black, one agrees with Asante that they do not own hip hop. These big record companies will produce music which will sell and bring them huge profits. That is the main reason why these companies invested in hip hop music. It is not to let music lovers appreciate a new kind of music and appreciate the black culture; it is mainly because this type of music is beneficial to them. But whether the black people who perform the music and composes them are positively impacted by hip hop music remains intriguing. One views this situation as downright exploitation of the artistic talents of the black. Asante notes that no single black man sits on the Board of the big record companies. This indeed is bigger than hip hop, it points towards the commercialism and to some extent colonialism, hidden behind the shadows of hip hop music, powered by the big record label companies. Who then owns hip hop? Asante is right, it is not the black people, it is the “old white men”. The hip hop generation faces several obstacles in the 21st century. Foremost among this is the challenge of attempting to change the negative images of the Black people. Even hip hop music is frowned at by some sectors of society; not realizing that hip hop echoes the voice of the youth. This perception is brought about by the lack of understanding of what the music is really about. There are various strategies which the Black people use to address this issue of a negative image. First, they try to empower themselves through their music. Strong, powerful messages are often incorporated in the lyrics of their songs. Some messages encourage the Black people to become agents of change
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In the case of music magazines, the growth started in 1990s. By mid nineties, as a result of increase in the audience of hip hop, The Source became the best-selling music magazine. However, the period also witnessed the growth of competitors like Vibes by Quincy Jones and Time Warner, and XXL, creating tough competition in the field of music publishing.
Fear of whiteness is key to Watkins’s discussion, and this is twofold; it refers to the black fear of white Americans appropriating hip-hop and the white fear to be accepted by black Americans as an authentic hip-hop artist. Watkins makes some key points, he discusses how Eminem has been portrayed as infringing upon black culture and calls this “cultural theft” (91).
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