Monday, October 17, 2005

Corporate Gangstas

I can't recommend Gary Younge's Graun article today too highly. Younge addresses the progressive convergence between hip hop and corporate big bucks. It's not just that hip hop is now big business of course - more to the point, I think, is that the imagery, 'values' and identity of hip hop has increasingly come to epitomise the selfish, competitive, cynical and vacuous culture of ultra-consumerist capitalism. As Younge suggests, hip hop started out as a do-it-yourself musical culture, providing a voice (and a form of community self-organisation) for poor inner city black people in the metropolis (there are clear parallels with UK 1970s punk*) and has now morphed into a corporate marketing extravaganza in which a lucky few rap about 'life on the streets' while safely ensconced inside private studios appended to million dollar mansions in the Hampton Hills. Similarly, 'bling' started out as a kind of parody of elite culture - drawing ironic attention to the gap between haves and have nots and has now been safely incorporated into the capitalist mainstream - in fact what is 'bling' now if it is not the very apotheosis of the superficial, grasping and status-obsessed (status measured in terms of how much money you've got of course) culture of modern capitalism?

*ie real punk - not Blink fucking 182.

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