Monday, March 18, 2013

Does Hip Hop Injure the Black Community?

Hip Hop Concert in Boston, MA
Hip hop writer Sebastian Elkouby asks "Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America?" in his article published this week.  Commercialized hip hop is castigated by Elkouby as he responds to the common refrain from some quarters that hip hop positively injures African American youth and communities.  Elkouby writes:

"Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America? To answer this question fairly, we must first discard the distorted image of Hip Hop that mainstream media has passed off for the past 20 years. Hip Hop is a movement consisting of 4 main artistic elements: DJ’ing, Rapping, Breaking and Graffiti. But at its core, it is a philosophy based on the idea that self expression is an integral part of the pursuit of peace, love and unity. It was created by young visionaries who tapped into their greatest potential and gave birth to one of the most important cultural phenomenon the world has ever seen."

Elkouby rightly asks why critics so expressly point to artists for perpetuating negative stereotypes, glorification of violence, and disrespect of women, while ignoring the record executives, the "adults" in the room, who fill the nation's airwaves with banal messages and low-brow fare. "It’s easy to blame talentless top 40 rappers for dominating the airwaves of so called hip hop radio stations like L.A.’s Power 106 or New York’s Hot 97 while Rick Cummings, president of programming for Emmis Communications, which owns both stations, isn’t held accountable for his part in broadcasting filth to millions of listeners.  Time and time again, the real decision makers get away with murder while rap artists are projected as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with Hip Hop and young Black males.  Kind of how gangs are perceived as the lone cause of urban violence while those who bring guns and drugs into the community remain anonymous." 

Further, Interscope President Jimmy Iovine gets called out as the real "gangster" in gangsta rap music, for propagating ridiculousness in hip hop, particularly after signing Chicago 16-year old Chief Keef, who does little more than extol the virtue of blunt smoking and snitch killing in his music.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Has the Record Industry Turned it Around?

For the first time since 1999, the record industry has seen growth. The first revenue increase in 15 years can be tied to a 9% increase in digital download sales.  Perhaps the record industry has figured out how to monetize digital record sales.  Approximately 10% of digital revenues are made up of paid subscriptions through avenues such as Pandora and Slacker radios. The entire global industry profited at $16.5 Billion in 2012, yet insiders still complain that growth could be more robust if not for the illegal downloading community.  Hip hop and R&B artists drove much of the revenue in 2012, including top sellers Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj, Adele, Rihanna, and Pink.  
Global Singles Best Sellers in 2012
      Artist Title Total (m units)

    1 Carly Rae Jepsen Call Me Maybe 12.5
    2 Gotye Somebody That I Used To Know 11.8
    3 PSY Gangnam Style 9.7
    4 fun. We Are Young 9.6
    5 Maroon 5 Payphone 9.1
    6 Michel Teló Ai Se Eu Te Pego 7.2
    7 Nicki Minaj Starships 7.2
    8 Maroon 5 One More Night 6.9
    9 Flo Rida Whistle 6.6
    10 Flo Rida Wild ones 6.5
    Source: IFPI

Thursday, March 7, 2013

CFP: Words Beats & Life

Call for Submissions

Seeking submissions for three themes that will be presented at the 2013 Teach-In:

1. Hip Hop as an identity,

2. Hip Hop and capacity building, and

3. Legacy: Lessons learned from our elders and ancestors

Hip Hop as an Identity

What does it mean to say, “I am Hip Hop”? Knowledge of Self is considered the fifth element of Hip Hop, yet Hip Hop is rarely publicly discussed as an identity. By identity we are referring to that which contributes to an individual’s character, personal understanding, and worldview. We are currently accepting academic papers, poems, essays, and visual arts that speak to Hip Hop as an identity.

Hip Hop and Capacity Building

What began as a way to “keep kids off the street” is evolving from a movement into a unified and cohesive field. WBL is looking for examples of promising practices in Education (K – 16), Nonprofit, For-Profit, and the emerging For-mission space to include in a wide-reaching, information exchange. This will not only help other programs do a better job of connecting with youth, but also help develop standards of practice that will contribute to the advancement of the field. We are specifically interested in models of program design or case studies on leadership, grassroots advocacy, holistic approaches to education, and policies that support sustainability.

Legacy: Lessons Learned from our Elders and Ancestors

History provides numerous examples of art transforming communities in meaningful and tangible ways. So any effort to advance the field would be incomplete without taking a moment to look back and apply prior experience to new circumstances. WBL is looking for submissions that will allow us to learn from the wisdom of our elders and ancestors.

Please submit a 150-word abstract for your submission with an email address and telephone number by March 30, 2013. Panel proposals will be considered as well as short films, poetry, and artwork. The authors of those submissions that are selected for publication will be invited to present at the 2013 Teach In scheduled for July 12-14, 2013.

Submissions can take the form of the following: Scholarly research papers, critical essays, scholarly reviews, editorials, prose, poetry and artwork

For more details including word count, and process of submitting see the full call for submissions HERE

Submissions on other topics will also be considered.

Questions? Email: