Why Net Neutrality Will Accelerate The Changing Face Of Hip-Hop (Video)

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In 2017, Hip-Hop, a culture that was founded and built primarily by Blacks and Latinos, is more diverse than ever. As in most cases, diversity is good but, if Jazz and Rock & Roll are any indication of what to expect, that diversity eventually might be at the expense, and even exclusion, of the very people who founded Hip-Hop.

In his latest episode of TBD, Justin “The Company Man” Hunte takes a look at both the changing face of Hip-Hop and the likely dismantling of net neutrality next week and argues the latter likely will hasten the former. On the subject of the changing face of Hip-Hop, Hunte looks at a crop of artists led by Post Malone, Lil Pump, Lil Xan and others who seemingly have leveraged Hip-Hop’s sound, fashion and feel to great popularity, without necessarily acknowledging the history of the culture, or even respecting it. At the heart of Hunte’s argument lies a statement by Malone last month that drew intense criticism on social media.

In speaking with NewOnce, Malone said about Hip-Hop: “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to Hip-Hop. There’s great Hip-Hop songs where they talk about life and they spit that real shit, but right now, there’s not a lot of people talking about real shit. Whenever I want to cry, whenever I want to sit down and have a nice cry, I’ll listen to some Bob Dylan. Or whenever I’m trying to have a good time and stay in a positive mood, I listen to Hip-Hop. Because it’s fun. I think Hip-Hop is important because it brings people together in a beautiful, happy way.” Most outlets seized on the first sentence of Malone’s quote, which, when taken by itself, is wildly out of context. When the full extent of his quote is digested, it actually is consistent with a criticism a great number of Hip-Hop fans of all colors, particularly those who favor lyricism and conscious content, have hurled at the current state of Hip-Hop. Still, as Hunte points out, Malone’s statement was viewed with more suspicion because of things he’s done and said before.

In the past, Malone has been seen on social media clips dropping the “N” word. In a 2015 interview with DJ Booth, Malone also very explicitly distanced himself from being a rapper, even if he sometimes makes Rap music. When taken together, there seems to be a consistent narrative of Malone harboring a disdain for the very genre that has propelled him to a number 1 song for 8 weeks and counting–a trap-infused song ironically titled “Rockstar.”

As a wave of White artists flows into Hip-Hop and gains popularity, Hunte argues that big money and copy cats are not far behind. While perceived “culture vultures” like Vanilla Ice have entered Hip-Hop in the past, often to great success, The Company Man says the pending repeal of net neutrality makes this time different. As many know, we now enjoy an open internet where we are free to access any services made available. If net neutrality is repealed on Tuesday, as TechCrunch states “when a country lacks an open internet, the government (and companies friendly with said government) are able to do anything from simply blocking or banning apps entirely (EG: Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp for censorship or economic reasons) to more aggressive moves such as Egypt’s effective shutdown of their internet service providers.”

The repeal of net neutrality is clearly bigger than Hip-Hop, as the entire scope of our access to information is subject to change, literally overnight. However, in the context of Hip-Hop, it is not hard to imagine a world in which certain forms of music are favored over others, if access is in the control of select companies. In fact, as Ambrosia For Heads reported in May, in the 1980s, when the TV and radio airwaves were controlled by a small group of media conglomerates (a reality for the internet that likely will be re-created if net neutrality goes away), most radio stations across the country outright refused to play Hip-Hop, as did MTV in its earliest years. Even if Hip-Hop is here to stay, as Hunte suggests, it is not far-fetched to believe that certain artists within the genre might be favored over other artist in the genre. One need only look to the 50s and 60s, when Rock & Roll, a genre that was started by Black artists like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and others was whitewashed for TV, as Elvis Presley, The Beatles and other White acts were the ones chosen to be shown to the masses.

While the notion of a Hip-Hop genre that is populated primarily by White artists might seem unlikely now, as Hunte points out in his close “Times change like nickels and dimes. 10 years ago Game and Gucci Mane got clowned for their face tattoos. Now it’s like you can’t be a new rapper without one. 10 years ago youtube was largely cat videos. Now it’s killed cable television. 10 years ago, Instagram didn’t exist. 10 years from now, will new popular mainstream Black rappers in Hip-Hop be the minority?”