With each day that passes, hip-hop continues to grow with fiery pace. In recent years, it has risen from an urban subculture to music’s #1 genre. Through the genre’s rise to the top, hip-hop enthusiasts have expressed a growing feeling that the genre is losing its true culture, being replaced by a corporate controlled facade.
In large part thanks to the magic of social media, independent rappers have blown up online in masses. As a result, hip-hop as a genre has flooded the billboard charts, and hip-hop culture has come to have massive influence on mainstream pop-culture.
To a record label, this means opportunity. In unprecedented fashion, labels are now taking their top mainstream talent and teaming up with hip-hop’s hottest stars. In the past, it was extremely rare for a rapper to collaborate with a pop-star. Today, it seems like every day rappers are being featured on mega-hit pop songs. From Migos’ Quavo collaborating with pop-stars like Justin Bieber and Post Malone, to Young Thug collaborating with Camila Cabello on one of the year’s biggest hits, these ‘street’ rappers are racking up billions of streams, and in turn millions and millions of dollars.
In late January, Atlanta rap group Migos released their 24 track album Culture II. Just over a month earlier, the group released a 30 track album titled Quality Control. Coming in with over 100 minutes of content each, listening to Culture II and Quality Control felt like more of a chore than an experience. That being said, both peaked inside the Billboard top 3, and have racked up over two billion streams in less than a month. To many hip-hop fans, when beloved artists like Migos take this route, it feels like they have sold out, making music for streams over quality.
Migos at the 2018 Grammys
Photo by Hypebeast
As a long time hip-hop fan, gaining recognition for the genre is something that has been fought for for years. Now that the genre is being recognized by the masses, something simply feels off. To many, the authentic, grassroots feeling of hip-hop music and culture is what made it special. However, now that mainstream culture has adapted hip-hop as its own, it feels like the authenticity and charm of hip-hop culture is depleting more and more every day, being replaced with the carefully orchestrated corporate culture that appeals to the masses.