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The Corporate Assault on Hip Hop

            This paper will explore the corporate greed that has plagued hip-hop ever since it became a billion dollar a year industry. Major record labels like Sony and Universal, which are owned by white men, have been intentionally signing rappers that reflect modern minstrel characteristics of blacks to attract White listeners. "Once hip hop became popular, critics attributed it to the destruction of the Black community, gang and drug related violence, demeaning of women, and the overall destruction of America's values." (Rose 2008). Near the end of the 1990's, rap became associated more and more with its negative manifestations, specifically "gangsta rap," but also very misogynistic, materialistic, violent, and over-sexualized lyrics and images. Hip-hop's multi-dimensional range of subjects, including politics, religion, comedy, social commentary, urban story telling, and social critique became underrepresented in mass media. "Notable rappers who address these topics include groups like "A Tribe Called Quest", "Public Enemy", Mos Def, and Talib Kweli"[6]. These East Coast rappers also featured dramatically different clothing styles and mentality, elements of mainstream rap that changed over time.
             Hip-hop started out in New York, adopting former funk and soul grooves styles and beats. Many blacks children came from poor schools that cut music funding, leaving them to create a type of music that only requires a record player. Rap brought poetry to a new generation, as it called for lyrically skillful and colorful rhymes that paint pictures in peoples' minds. Artists also had to have strong crowd presence, whether they battled against others or performed for clubs and parties. For many who rose in the industry, rap was their way of staying out of a vicious cycle of drug dealing and incarceration. This was too often a cycle associated with lower-income children, who would work their way up in the drug game, get caught up and jailed, and then come back into the world feeling as though crime is the only way of survival.

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