Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wiz Khalifa at the Forefront of Rap's Internet Democracy

Social media has dramatically changed the hip hop game. The record label model has been on life support for several years now, and the technological advances of ProTools and social media have not only made the hip hop genre more accessible but is changing the music industry in radical ways. Take Wiz Khalifa as an example. Born in North Dakota; Lived in Europe as a child; Wears skinny jeans; Became best friends with a goofy white guy; Is generally positive in outlook; and is now a hip hop superstar. How did this happen? Wiz Khalifa is a master of social media sites on the Web. Rappers, like the oddball Khalifa, are using Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace in order to generate an enormous following, and then are taking their music and following to the record labels with a leveraged position heretofore unknown.

When these rappers (and other musicians) finally sign with a record label, their fans are already locked in. Curren$y has a virtual community that follows him. Lil B drops dozens of songs and videos on MySpace. Khalifa’s hit song, Black and Yellow, is used as a rallying cry for the Pittsburgh Steelers (and any sports team with similar colors). In particular, Khalifa’s scheduled performances are a testament to the power of the viral world. When rappers combine their talents with the internet, it is easy to understanding how the internet is democratizing rap.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mia Moody on hip-hop and the "Independent Woman"

Mia Moody has published, "A rhetorical analysis of the meaning of the "independent woman" in the lyrics and videos of male and female rappers" in the 13.1 American Communication Journal 43-58 (Spring 2011). It's worth a read for those interested in hip-hop and feminism.

The abstract is here:

Using the concept of intersectionality, this rhetorical analysis combines feminist and critical cultural theories to explore the meanings of the ―independent woman‖ in the lyrics and respective videos of male and female rappers. Findings indicate both groups use misogynistic language to describe women and juxtapose images of independence with material wealth. However, male rappers are more likely to include messages of beautiful, overachieving women paired with average men while female rappers focus on their own sexual prowess. Also worth noting is while male rappers highlight domestic skills such as cooking and cleaning, female rappers do not mention them at all. Based on viewer feedback, it appears very few viewers explore the true meaning of independence and relationships. This study is of significance because rap music is a large part of popular culture that scholars must continuously analyze for new messages and meanings.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Giving away music: A Copyright Conundrum

An interesting article recently appeared in Toronto's Globe and Mail, asking an important question: Who really "owns" them [popular music]? The article makes note of several artists claiming to give away the rights to their music, but this seems to be quite the copyright conundrum.

There are no doubt legal issues at play as music artists are under all sorts of contractual language with respect to the rights to their songs. The ownership of music usually involves a number of players from artists to record companies to the song writers that pen our favorites. I'm not an expert on copyright law, so I'll leave the discussion up to those that are.

This article also includes significant coverage of Somali-Canadian hip-hop star K'naan who has made quite a name for himself for his thought-provoking repertoire.

(Photo courtesy of the Globe and Mail)