Sunday, March 27, 2011

Talking Posts #7: Hip-Hop and the Corporate Function of Colonization

Jared Ball, Hip-Hop and the Corporate Function of Colonization"

In our society, we have an established control of power. The people who are in power will largely continue to have power, while everyone else struggles to reach that ideal. I think Amanda's post on Jared Ball's arguments within " Hip-Hop and the Corporate Function of Colonization" is very strong.

"If people were free to create a new culture or behavior that became massively accepted and popular, that would mean the end of established power. Another way this is controlled is by allowing only carefully selected forms of culture to be promoted."

The power for all music is ultimately in the hands of the record labels. Music forms a huge part of our culture, and I thought it would be interesting to offer up two current, specific examples of how, as Amanda puts it, "faceless CEOS and share holders" decide what culture we absorb.

Lupe Fiasco, "Hurt Me Soul"
I wish I could post the full lyrics to this song in my post. The song opens, "Now I ain't tryna be the greatest, I used to hate hip-hop... Yup, because the women degraded." Throughout the song he discusses what he sees as hypocrisy in the hip-hop world: all the horrors in the world, yet no one cares unless their girls are good in bed and their cars are done up.

But I'm not here to discuss the issues within the hip-hop world. I'm here to discuss the controversy around Fiasco's third and most recent album, "LASERS." This is not the album he intended to put out - he always had the plan to end a trilogy of albums with "LupE.N.D" However, his contract stopped him from ultimately being able to do so. He was forced to re-write songs, do songs he didn't want to do, because of a contract. In an interview with MTV, he states that:

"I was literally told for 'The Show Goes On' that I shouldn't rap too deep," he told the newspaper. "I shouldn't be too lyrical. It just needs to be something easy on the eyes."

Lupe presents intelligent lyrics, pushing past the stereotypes of hip-hop and its culture - but apparently, according to record labels, society needs to be spoon fed club anthems.

Childish Gambino, "Put It In My Video"
In many of Childish Gambino (also know as Community's Donald Glover)'s songs, he seems to be struggling with his need to be signed by a label, and be recognized as a 'real' rapper, beyond just being another actor trying to rap. In "Put It In My Video," he seems to further struggle with trying to present positive ideals, such as body acceptance - but it's undermined by his continued objectifying of women. He mentions Lil Wayne multiple times throughout his tracks, and compares himself to the established rapper multiple times. He seems to believe that to be signed you to follow the already presented topics: womanizing, partying, and money.

And by the struggle Lupe Fiasco has dealt with? It would appear he's right.

I can't help but wonder if this is an active thought process. I can't figure out if my mental image of evil CEOs rubbing their hands together in glee as they work to keep the masses down is founded in at least some fact - or are they just as entrapped by the protocols of our society as the rest of us? Do they have no clue what they're doing?


  1. Lexie,
    Thanks for extending on my post. I struggled with this article and wasn't sure if I really grasped the meaning of it. Seeing your post I have a little more confidence now that I know what I was talking about. I really liked the examples that you included and I really think that they help illustrate Ball's points. It is disheartening when artists' are not free to express themselves how they want and are forced into the record label's mold. It makes me wonder if making money and being popular is really worth stifling your creativity and becoming something you are not.

  2. Yeah Lexie, I honestly have to say that you really do have a grasp on not only this subject but all of the subjects this semester. Your blogs are always well-in-depth.

  3. Amanda - I really, truly appreciated your post! I know you say you were unsure, but it definitely didn't come through.

    Ron - oh wow, thank you so much!

  4. I love me some lupe great job enjoyed reading it and now that i look ask it all music is corrupt