Maturation of Hip-hop?

I’ve written before on Jay-Z’s partnership with Water For Life and the UN to raise awareness of the world’s water crisis, but after seeing a video from the World Food Programme about rapper 50 Cent visiting Somalia to see how his donations have helped during the famine, I started to think further on what we are witnessing…

Even 50 will tell you that what viewers are seeing violates their expectations of their image of him, and that he may be alienating his core musical audience by getting into the philanthropy ring. “I don’t care if my audience is prepared to move forward with me. They may not necessarily be growing at the same pace.” (video below)

Jay-Z was one of the first elite rappers to use their name to raise awareness for global issues. Much like Bono has done for AIDS, Jay-Z took on the responsibility for making it cool to grow as a person and acquaint yourself with how the rest of the world lives and survives…After all, Hip-hop is global and reaches every nook and cranny.

I think what we are witnessing is a maturation of Hip-hop artists (and therefore Hip-hop culture) – a culture that from the outside may not appear so, but promotes inclusion, individuality, identity, and voice. As Hip-hop culture matures from it’s 1978 genesis, we could effectively say that Hip-hop as an entity has reached it’s 34th birthday and is starting to take assessment of where it has been, what it could become, and where it would like to go. Add to this that the primary audience consuming and promoting its cultural relevance is the video game culture, the texting/mobile culture, and the users of social media (as well as the inventors of it…). Video games have taught our generation that there is a solution to every problem in that no video game was ever created that just ended in a manner that left no conceivable way for the players to beat it, or to win. Much like every movie or book has a cohesive ending, the gamer generation has grown up with this imbedded in our cultural identity, and we bring this belief system with us into the work place, society, and school. As the mobile generation, we are on-the-go and connected in real-time. If it is happening, we find out about it and understand it often times before the majority of others even find out about it. The sheer fact that we are mobile tells you that we are used to our need for connectedness and “always on”-ness to be satisfied to the far ends of the planet…”What do you mean I won’t get reception when I climb Mount Everest?! – #WTF? Someone needs to fix that ASAP!”…And for the social component, much like it has been said that basketball is a universal sport in that it only requires your ability to play the game, nothing has done more for cultural integration and acceptance since the explosion of social media. To be able to peer into others lives at a pace and level of acceptance never before seen in history means we are more connected and aware of others’ perspectives, and this further fuels our gamer mentality. You can now connect, follow, and subscribe to the lives of nearly anybody around the world. The boarders have been removed or lowered and it is now all about reach and accessibility. The more I know about that which is different than me, the more I have to work with as I try to move forward or solve other unrelated problems. Geography, time, and language have dissipated through the internet, and the culture that is all about inclusion, individuality, identity, and voice, is really beginning to hit its stride as its patriarchs start to grow and share their experiences with the younger audiences. Many of us may not be able to rally the UN or the World Food Programme to allow us to raise awareness, but we can participate in causes we care about (and share this participation via social media to further expand the reach) through sites like kiva.org or by donating directly on individual websites for things we care about.

But where did this come from? In Hip-hop, everything is somehow a derivative of something else. Either a shout out, throwback, or mashup/remix of something prior. So to answer this question from a Hip-hop perspective, I’d say we may have seen this in the maturation of lyrics by artists, but also the cross-pollination of influences in different industries. As some of you have observed, Bill Gates himself has moved into the world of philanthropy and global issues with the same force and energy he developed Microsoft; becoming one of the worlds wealthiest individuals. I think the same search for self-growth and desire to problem solve that was triggered within Gates is the same feature we are seeing in rappers and members of the culture. What do you do once you have accumulated all the wealth you ever dreamed of and reached a level of success unparalleled by others in your craft? Maybe you get a little bored – kind of like the “it’s lonely at the top” saying. The funny thing about success is that once you attain it, you have to keep working hard to stay there, and that often requires diversification. Perhaps we are seeing an expansion of interestes and influence that artists have through their music to raise awareness for other causes. Just like the album gets you to buy a seat to a concert, the album and concert now influence you to get involved with the artist’s passions outside of music. No more is the extension a clothing line, a fruit drink, or a shoe. It is becoming something bigger than just consumption.

Even Jay-Z has been criticized for losing his toughness or his “street cred” because he is now worth an estimated $500 million, has an art collection, and finally settled down to raise a family. But, what do you expect? He can’t write 72 more “Big Pimpin” songs just to keep his fans happy. As he grows, so too do his lyrics, and so to does his audiences. None of this happens in a vacuum. And as he climbs the charts (Rolling Stones and Forbes), he is interacting in analog with other global players. This convergence of leaders of different industries and cultures is bringing about some very interesting ripple affects, and I believe we are just starting to see them take shape.

Jay-Z and Microsoft Bing collaboration:

Get it?

They choose to lead and others follow. They are influencers no matter how much you may disagree…

~ by Adam Maikkula on March 7, 2012.

125 Responses to “Maturation of Hip-hop?”

  1. I just got out of bed and I’m already reading your post. This means something! Very useful materials. Thnx!

  2. We would like to thank you yet again for the lovely ideas you gave Jesse when preparing a post-graduate research plus, most importantly, for providing all of the ideas in one blog post. Provided that we had been aware of your web site a year ago, i’d have been rescued from the needless measures we were taking. Thanks to you.

  3. Interesting perspective, and I do hope that you are absolutely right…and that the culture follows the artists. It’s wonderful to see such big names placing a much-needed spotlight on communities and causes in need…

  4. Dr. Dre is back and ready to change Hip-Hop.

  5. I’m glad how they’re showing us that they’re actually not too full of themselves and that they have some concern for the people around them

  6. Great post! Hip Hop is definitely going through a process of maturation, and a lot of the can be attributed to exactly what you’ve pointed out here: with social media and our new interconnectedness, we have the ability to convey new messages and ideals to each other that we weren’t able to before. Hopefully Hip Hop can continue on this path, because there are still many flaws with the music as a whole. But as an avid Hip Hop fan for a long time now, I’m confident this can happen. Thanks again!

  7. This is a very indepth blog on Hip Hop and I truly agree it is growing up. I am a Hip Hop artist myself and I knew soon enough this trend was going to take place. What worries me are the fans because here in Robeson County, NC are still in the grimey mindstate.

  8. I noticed the photo with Bill Gates in it. You may want to read this sometime:

    “A Bill Gates Hitchhiking Story”
    http://tim-shey.blogspot.com/2011/01/bill-gates-hitchhiking-story.html

  9. Well said, I’ve always seen Jay-Z as more than a rapper too. He, as himself has said, is a business man. And he really has done some impressive things within the rap industry, clothing, and labels in particular. This kind of behaviour does not surprise me at all.

  10. i admit that i know almost nothing about jay-z or “fiddy” cent. from my ignorant point of view, it is hard to believe they would do anything unless it put money in their pockets or kept them out of trouble. but – again – i know almost nothing about them. oh, i do know that “fiddy” bilked coca-cola out of millions by claiming that “vitamin water” helped him bulk up, but later it was learned that he took steroids, thus lying to coca-cola about his endorsement.

  11. That’ll teach me to half-glance at “Freshly Pressed” while watching television at the same time. I thought your title was an ultimaturm… “Masturbation or Hip-Hop? I was gonna say; can’t we have both?

  12. Reblogged this on Roger Casey: The Life and commented:
    This is Pretty Sweet

  13. I’m glad to see hip hop/rap artists doing something for the greater good. It’s a beautiful thing. Something like this would been unheard of–especially during the era of the east vs. west coast madness. Great read.

  14. I think it’s more of a maturation of these particular artists and not hip hop in general. Mainstream hip hop is backsliding and show no awareness of the world around them. Jay Z and 50 cent are older men, I believe Jay Z is at least 40 and 50 cent is close. Nice write up.

  15. Hip-hop is definitely maturing; it’s no longer just a young man’s (or woman’s) genre. I’m looking forward to seeing the rappers who I grew up listening to continue to develop as artits and as people.

    In the future, I think we’ll see rappers who are 50+ years old rapping about “old people stuff” like grandchildren and colonoscopies. And people attending hip-hop concerts will probably be more mature as well.

  16. Ni**as in Paris?
    Mature Lyrics?

  17. Everything that’s revolutionary today will become mainstream tomorrow. 20 years ago’s gangster rappers? “Cop Killer” Ice T portrays a cop on TV, Ice Cube does Disney Movies, and Snoop Dogg is a regular on NICK. Believe it or not, at one time Elvis, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis were the devil, or at the very least represented the international communist conspiracy. Now those names are mentioned with a sense of reverence.

  18. Reblogged this on My Turf Beyond and commented:
    I like your blog. Full of info.

  19. Reblogged this on iBLOGalot.

  20. it is wonderful to see role models take a firm stance. The question is how far will each choose to go. Back in 2004 I wrote up a plan called Revolocean, see http://www.vpbconsultancy.com ‘product creation’ , introduced it to wyclef jean, pras from the fugees, lauryn hill (however, to her not personally as that was not permitted). It seems that If it is spoon fed to them, celebrities, then ‘yes’ they can, they make a difference. Bono, is another sense of dedication. Don’t get me wrong, i love hip hop culture. It is the word of the streets. But why have the role models forgotten the effect of the word of the streets? It is not mere glitter and glamour. They got lost there some how. And as for hip hop culture, mostly black natives, why not go further in giving back to your roots. Act harder to create a stronger infrastructure. It is not easy. It has to be thought out. Just look at the Stop Kony Campaign. That was a success. And not just for the name of the game being fame. It’s time for corporate responsibility to rise. I say I ll be more proud of hip hop if the leaders of the game take that stance create a company of their own focusing on development and implementation of infrastructure on the continent of africa. Ideal? I don’t think so. We just need money, there are enough people to work there. Invest, teach, guide, attempt. Thats all for now. One Love. God Bless. V. and of course R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to the roots, de la soul, arrested development, common, etc. etc. Thank you for the good reading. I enjoyed.

    • Sister Vanessa you are on point with your comment. While I do not want to knock what Jay and others have done outside of the states, there are issues that those who buy the records of Jay and others are dealing with that everyone seems to turn a blind eye to. I cannot knock them because we live in a society where that’s “activism” that’s them “giving back” but if they walk down the street and see a vet who lost their home and family, they’ll say “pull yourself up by your boot straps.” The Bronx is the poorest county in the U.S. how is that possible in the richest city in the richest country of the world? Big business has kidnapped hip hop and turned it against the community who at one point reflected their struggles through the art. They’ve kidnapped it and put a clone out that continues dumbing down our communities, taking away a weapon so we wont stand up against the injustices that big business continues to subject us to. If hip hop was born in 1978 then it is 44 years old that means someway somehow we need rescue it before it turns 50 and it’s too old to fight back. The different perspectives are always interesting to me because it reflects the reality of those who present them, so now, has hip hop really matured?

      • That is the question. Hip Hop remains, has become, or still is the underdog. I would love to see it mature not only in beats and lyrics, but in lifestyle. How do I say it diplomatically? I wouldn’t mind seeing hip hop mature more drastically. Bless.

  21. awesome article

  22. Wonderful commentary and insight into the realm of the ever-growing Hip-Hop culture and its leaders. You’re absolutely right. The leaders of the Hip-Hop movement are showing the youth it’s the right thing to do to give back to places less developed and in dire need of resources. 50 Cent and Jay-Z are just two examples of the cause but they shine the brightest because they are two mega successful entrepreneurs with lucrative businesses outside of Hip-Hop. It’s a great thing to see artists shed their images to do something positive. It proves that above and beyond all things music, the person behind the mic is just that, a person, with a life and mind of their own just like the rest of the world.

  23. Thank you all for the reads, reblogs, comments and likes! It means a lot. Glad you’ve enjoyed the post as I know many of you have busy work days, so to take some time out of your day and read some WordPress blogs can either be a time killer or a positive experience…Happy to hear you thought it was a good click. I’m planning to visit everyone’s blog once things cool down for a sec (currently at about 10+ views per minute on this post).

  24. THANK YOU FOR THE READ

  25. Great, I’m depserate for new dance tunes. I had a lot of fun with the old stuff, but new times and new issues need attention, and if it’s jaunty then I can work out to it at the same time. :)

  26. Reblogged this on Jun E Caniel's Blog and commented:
    Great article

  27. nice article…visit my site VHZtech.com

  28. Getting involved in charities or NGO’s is hardly any more than a ploy for good press. I wouldn’t put it past figures like Jay-Z or Bono or whomever to try to capitalize off the current state of affairs in Africa at some point in time.

    And speaking of charities, Vanessa beltgens brought up the “Stop Kony” campaign which actually calls for the increased intervention of American troops into Uganda and the wholesale support of the murderous Ugandan military. Can we really say that this is a positive campaign that has the people of Uganda’s interests in mind? No. Of course not and any sane individual can see Invisible Children for what they really are.

    What these celebrities and these different charities are doing is hardly admirable.

    As for Hip-Hop, it’s hardly “maturing” (I’m not sure exactly what the author means by this). It’s top players are merely trying to seem worldly.

  29. Do you think Dr. Dre or Eminem could pull this off? I mean, if 50 could… I feel like if the rapper builds the artistic image of an intelligent gangster, then they can have some latitude, but if they only put forth a “bad person” persona, then the public might not latch on. But I could definitely see Dr. Dre as a judge on American Idol…

  30. Reblogged this on westsideluxeliving and commented:
    Awesome!

  31. nice that musician support those african countries !

  32. Interesting question you pose. I have to say that what we are seeing is much more to do with the maturing of these artists rather than the genre as a whole. We also have to make a differentiation here as well when speaking of commercial hip hop and stuff that is less so. I think mainstream hip hop is hardly maturing, the lyrics recycle the same themes of money, cars, and misogynistic lyrics again and again and again. Oh and throw in the N word here and there. There are a few hip hop artists I listen to and they would probably fall under the sub genre of ‘conscious’ hip hop so I am biased here.

    If Jay Z and 50 do influence their listeners to think beyond the surface and find a cause to act on (whether it’s the one they support or not) then maybe we are at the beginning of something really good.

  33. [...] recently featured a blog post by Adam Maikkula regarding a perceived maturation of hip-hop culture. The post mainly spoke about popular hip-hop [...]

  34. Great post. I loved the Influencers video.

  35. I am curious about your thoughts on old school hip hop into the 80’s and 90’s verses the theme of a large portion of songs today. I have seen a big change and for most of the younger audience, music with a message such as Black Sheep or Tribe Called Quest would be met with rolling eyes from kids because they are not talking about shooting anyone or smoking out. The subject matter has really changed.

    I do agree with you about an artist maturing as compared to going soft. Nothing is more sad than a 47 year old man who is a multi-millionare crying about how rough his life and how he is being held back in life. As an artist, I would also grow bored performing the same thing album after album, show after show.

    • Great point! I agree, I think considering how attentions (and attention spans) have changed since the 80’s and 90’s, songs from back then would unfortunately be greeted w/ rolling eyes if released newly today…too much depth for a ringtone generation to absorb on mass scale.

  36. I’m glad how they’re showing us that they’re actually not too full of themselves and that they have some concern for the people around them

  37. Reblogged this on DLS Presents… and commented:
    Thank you for this insightful blog.
    There are transitions we make in life as individuals, in our careers, in spirit etc… For people to make a lifestyle change or a transition “to give” not only, there time, their money and their heart for the greater good of feeding one person but many (and possibly nations) should be commended. I absolutely agree with the fact that some people may not make the journey of evolving into a humanitarian or even understand why people turn to do things “like this” especially artists with their PERSONA, know that it’s for the greater good. We are citizens of the world, we must take care of one another not just selfishly take care of ourselves.

  38. its time bling bling is not the online think but dont forget that helping others is also helping yourself.

  39. It is inspiring to see those that have give to those that don’t. The influence of names like Jay-Z and 50 cent in current culture have such power and movement, I can’t wait to see where this leads to. Look also to the impact and inspiration that came of a result to ‘Distant Relatives’ by NAS and Damian Marley collaboration. Seeing this movement in the rap world will hopefully motivate change in a demographic where there hasnt been a huge influence previously.

  40. Reblogged this on theworldfamousdjddoxx.

  41. Superb posting………..

  42. Superb message, really impressing……………

  43. Reblogged this on Nothing Personal.

  44. I love this observation! Now that some have an eye on the future and not just the east coast west coast thing! A few have risen to the top. Even now though – of course not knowing them at all – I feel some are motivated by being a positive change, some need a positive turn for their persona.

  45. Thanks for your post. You brought up some interesting points. I am glad to see that people who have the money to actually travel and observe (somewhat first hand) the issues happening in different areas of the world do actually take that chance. However, I think that we as a people place far too much importance on the role that celebrities play in shaping our consciousness. I really think that as a collective world, we are waking up… and I trust myself (and my neighbor) to make informed choices about how I interact with the world and take loving action the best I can toward being the change I wish to see in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that Jay Z and Bill Gates take the action they do, and admittedly, I cannot talk a lot about the maturation of hip hop… the only hip hop artists I tend to follow are The Roots, Common and such. However, I think that assuming a public figure has the power to influence others to make a choice about how they see the world or to support their causes (simply because of who they are), or choose not to support them based on helping others is kind of silly. I mean, I really love to think for myself and for a small period of time when living in LA, I actually tried to find out what was “wrong” with me for not worshiping celebrity do-gooders (don’t get me wrong, it’s cool what they do)… but they also have the money to do it and it is my assumption that they are thinking for themselves and simply taking informed action. I mean, really, Kudos to them for taking their money and putting it toward things that really need some love. However, just because any one celebrity does anything noble in the world, doesn’t make them any less human or any more worthy or special than anyone else… and any “normal” should truly own the power they have to also make informed decisions for their own pet cause and make as big and loving dent in something as they possibly can. As for Jay-Z’s fans, I just don’t know…. perhaps I am a Pollyanna, but I really do believe people have inherently beautiful spirits and also have the ability for think for themselves. I believe the collective consciousness of the world as one entity should be trusted a little more to take right action for ourselves and others on our own volition. If he is making more informed choices based on the state of the world, than good for him. I hardly think people would stop buying his music for helping others in the world… and people shouldn’t give him (or other famous people) the power to shape the consciousness of others… Like I said, I think we should all own the power we inherently have to think for ourselves.

  46. Reblogged this on SpeakGossip.

  47. Great article, very well written. Made me see hip hop AND video games in a different way.

  48. Excellent post. A lot of people like to criticize hip hop these days and say its only getting worse. Rappers like Jay Z stay on the top because of how he’s growing and expanding into different venues. If you don’t diversify yourself, you become like the rest. Thank you for this.

  49. Mr. Carter:

    I believe that you were called into music and into helping others who were not called for this purpose. Many are called, gut few are chosen. I am happy that you accepted the calling and then learned that you have been chosen by God, the high caller. I am interested in what new and wonderful things that God has planned for your lives. Just as importantly, the breath of the almighty is breathing on everything you touch because you have love for and you share with those who need your flicker of light in this vast world and is withholding the good for the punishment of young people…that teaching that say, we will punish you when you have the spirit and the will to over-come, go around, and walk over the bridges of oppression. I admire you and your refusal as a man to challenge and over-came the rat cages that was given to only one group of people to “live”. They laugh about our term of “living”, they say “you reside” in, not “living in public housing. In my opinion, government control over one’s mind, to lock in young minds in hopes that they can not see the systems, analyze the systems, and overcome those systems. I, personally, thank the God that I serve for you, and how you accepted the call and having it without any “FEAR”.

  50. [...] my wordpress, and this blog entry “Maturation of Hip-hop?” was [...]

  51. Interesting perspective. Loved the blog and the thought process! I think you’ve got to come harder with more than two rappers in the hip-hop world who are currently and progressively creating a maturation in hip-hop today though. I am a HUGE fan of Jay-Z and for many of the reasons you have presented in your blog. However, while his presence should forever remain in hip-hop, I don’t see the current generation of hip-hop (as a whole) following this path. The different cultures such as gaming, texting, social media are all very well in effect, but I don’t believe this is root of maturation in Hip-Hop. Like the awesome video you posted, “Influencers”, I believe it comes from a person when nobody is looking. Jay-Z, Common, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), and maybe a few more I consider in the “mature” state of Hip-Hop, but the most popular rappers of Hip-Hop today such as Drake, J-Cole, Rick Ross, and more have a long ways to go.
    I feel this blog could have been broken up in about two parts. One; where is Hip-Hop on its way too? Two; The powers and factors of influence and individuality. Overall, I still loved the blog and I am glad I found it! Looking forward to more!

    Loved the “Influencer” video…which also made me think of this…

    Thanks.
    -@mnicolebrooks

    • Bravo! Thanks for the great feedback – you are absolutely correct. I could AND SHOULD have “come harder with more than two rappers”. I was honestly just writing to get some thoughts on paper that I felt would have reached my typical crowd of readers…and did not in my wildest dreams think it would have made WordPress.com and blown up…that being said, if I was to re-write it knowingly aware of what was about to come of it, I would def have included a full spectrum of other artists and celebs even who could be mentioned in same lines…TLC w/ the condoms in the 90s, Alicia Keys with her Keep A Child Alive work, and too many others to throw out now at 2am :) but you are spot on with your commentary and I appreciate it. Def taking all this unprecedented attention into account to ensure I tighten up future posts (just in case).

      PS – good link w/ the TEDtalk. I’m kinda feelin like the “lone nut” on this blog post considering the digital crowd that has amassed around it. It’s like I just got digitally Flash Mobbed :). Take care!

  52. I think we may be witnessing not just maturation of hip hop but maturity of people and the world at large. It’s no just “cool” to support a cause but be really involved because the problems are very real – my heart went out to the children as young as 12 who had to walk long distances to get water. It’s not right … they should be having a proper childhood. It’s sad but its also encouraging to see and be part of causes that improve the quality of life for those who struggle. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to more!

  53. Really a superb informative blog…love it.

  54. An interesting idea, but…
    The Message by Grandmaster Flash is one of the first ever Rap records. Conscious Hip Hop has been around more or less ever since Hip Hop started! What you are talking about is not a new phenomenon.
    Also, the one continent which is the biggest consumer AND producer of Hip Hop is Africa.

  55. Reblogged this on Norman Vincoy's Blog.

  56. wow that 3 rd video amazing really loved so much……….

  57. This JZ and Gates are dangerous, satanist people. Just find it on the internet. They collaborate to implement the NWO. Awake!

  58. Bro, this was a very nice reading. Hope you’re right! Thanks!

  59. Conscious hip-hop has been around since always; however, the message here is that the authors are starting to target more global goals and objectives and the center of the culture is shifting from the local communities (and individual realization) to planetary issues.

    This may be a marketing strategy but, despite the motivations, the mainstream hip hop culture is changing and so are his focus.

    • Exactly bro! “Globalizing the local and localizing the global”…and “Think local, act global” are two fav quotes that come to mind in response to your commentary. The shift is on! = good point. Thx for the read and commentary.

  60. While I find the article interesting, I can’t say I agree with hip-hop in general becoming more mature.

    The popular mainstream music of today with the hip-hop/urban/rap label isn’t mature at all. I mean, I tend to like some of the beats but what they’re babbling nowadays is absolute nonsense. I thought that it couldn’t get any worse after hearing “crank dat”, but then I heard this “rack city” song(?). That’s another discussion though…

    What I see today is 80’s, 90’s and perhaps some early 00’ rappers and mc’s growing in who they are and what they want to be affiliated with, after all, wisdom comes with age. As written in the article it’s for the better, there’s a lot to be gained by making people aware.

  61. I really love this blog! Really enjoyed this read :)

  62. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.

  63. Hip hop has always been mature. It is has been a conduit for the black minority in America during the civil rights movement and it has been a poetic way of communication. Rappers used to get booed off stage if they called a woman “a bitch” and rapped bull crap about being gangster.

    Mainstream hip-hop is concerned with nothing but the commercialization of gang culture; making people have pride in the fact they go into prison, take and sell drugs, pimping “bitches” out, killing anyone that stand in their way and so on.

    Jay-Z and 50 Cent are not the only ones who have donated and “matured” (if they matured at all). Rappers like Immortal Technique have started their own record labels and donated money to the very causes that they have rapped about for almost all of their careers.

    Hip-hop (at least mainstream) never matured, but devolved and is trying (and failing, in my opinion) to grow again. The only hip-hop songs I hear people play are full of empty gangsta talk and shameless self pride.

    Mainstream hip-hop = M.B.D. Money, bitches and drugs.

  64. Nice videos

  65. Had no idea that Hip Hop was shifting to a philanthropic attitude. Great share !

  66. We have to remember that hip hop began as a social tool to bring attention to the plight of young African Americans in the inner cities of America, (ex: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message” – when I was little, that song scared the hell outta me in the late 70s, early 80s). I think that rappers who came of age in the 80s and 90s are now moving into maturity and have enough wealth today to be able to pick up the torch of civil rights and social justice causes to make significant changes and impacts (the same can be said for athletes today – most rappers and athletes have some foundation or charity that benefits youth in the cities they either come from or play in). And while they may not be marching in the streets like MLK and others (although I think more should make themselves move visible on the civil rights and social justice fronts), they are making a difference, some more quietly than others. And although the reputation of rappers/athletes is not always the greatest, their hearts and efforts are definitely in the right places and they are in a very powerful position to make change. The key will be to shift attention to these efforts just as much as we give attention to their songs, videos, and societal missteps.

  67. Man, I thought that was a lofty title and it was. Since this article is littered with half-informed presumptions, I want to make some of my own. When the writer refers to ‘hip hop culture’ he seems to really be talking about mainstream rap entertainers. Radio rappers are not what hip hop is about and neither is getting rich or hurting other people. Yet, the writer couches his argument on the irony of a big, tough gangster throwing money at what is ultimately fantastic PR for him.

    Hip hop is so much bigger and more important than Jay-Z or 50 Cent. These just happen to be some of the wealthiest and most visible faces of RAP music. If anyone is going to donate their time, image, or money it should be them; especially having grown up poor. To say that two filthy rich people are bucking a philanthropic trend by giving back (and enjoying the tax benefits and perks that accompany philanthropy) is naive. The writer assumes that all rappers are as wealthy as they claim, but most of them are just being theatrical. After all, they are entertainers.

    If you’re going to address the maturity and philanthropic value of hip hop, you owe it to your audience to reference Chuck D’s political involvement, the Beastie Boys’ mission to free Tibet and Wyclef’s ongoing work in his native Haiti. But none of those names are mainstream (and in the case of Wyclef not even a rapper) so who cares? They’re not rich or famous enough for their efforts to be seen in the same light. They are artists and they have been doing social and political work for a long time but since they are just artists (not pop icons or sex symbols) they don’t deserve to be mentioned in this article?

    The writer had a good thought, but there didn’t seem to be any substance to the argument. Hip hop is not maturing, Jay-Z is. Hip hop music will always reflect the lives of those inside it (so walkers and hip replacement are almost inevitable) but RAP music barely even resembles hip hop culture. Don’t confuse a cultural revolution (hip hop which includes rapping and many other forms of expression) with a highly marketed and efficiently manufactured product (mainstream rap like Jay-Z and 50 Cent).

  68. [...] Maturation of Hip-hop? « click, view, learn – adam maikkula. [...]

  69. Great post! Although I do agree that key hip-hop players are growing and with them, their focus, and their lyrics, there is also the issue of young “rappers” who essentially have no substance to their lyrics that are managing to penetrate through to the industry and therefore influence their audience and their mindset.

    Additionally, as these key hip-hop artists mature, as you mentioned, they are also losing their core audience, which means that there are more people to support those “artists” who have nothing to offer but a beat that’s meant to get asses shaking.

  70. Like many others I tend to only click on what interests me. This was one many exceptions in my present life. I am not a listener to this type of music. Truthfully, I find it unpleasant to my ears. Still, I see within it another aspect of my WordPress family that deserves respect as well as my understanding. I was born in Harlem in New York City. As a youth growing up, many of my closest friends were Black, as I am semi-black as a first generation Italian. When it comes to soul of the spirit and memories, my childhood memories of those Harlem relationships are among my best memories. As friends, there were heads above the Italians I knew in my youth.

  71. [...] Facebook [...]

  72. Reblogged this on dollarbillsdotme.

  73. For me, Jay-Z and 50 Cent donating money to the UN and food agencies: sounds good. I hope it has an impact on listeners to at least become more aware about issues of global poverty and famine. And maybe Jay-Z getting together with Bill Gates gives hip hop more credibility, but I think it’s more his personal action. (If you’re interested, check out “Decoded” where Jay-Z talks about his respect and admiration for Bono.) And we definitely don’t see Lil Wayne throwing millions into international aid organizations and youth development programs. If Lil Wayne is someday soon, then maybe there really is a maturation of hip hop occurring.

    But I have to agree with other comments: there’s diversity in hip hop, this social awareness from rappers is not new, and as noted, two rappers don’t represent the entire culture. KRS-One and crew created “Self Destruction” to support the Stop the Violence Movement. Afrika Bambaataa founded the Zulu Nation and promoted the peaceful nature of hip hop across the world. Russell Simmons does work with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. There’s tons of current and old hip hop that address global and social issue, maybe not with money, but with content.

    But If this maturation is happening, it’s encouraging and welcome. I was reading a book with an interview from Russell Simmons and I he had great things to say. “We’re creating a culture that promotes entrepreneurship, and that’s a very dramatic change that hip-hop has given America. Hip-Hop culture is the driving force in mainstream American culture.”

    He goes on to say that hip-hop culture has honesty and integrity, and that the people in hip-hop speak from the heart, speaking a voice that has been voiceless. “Its integrity allows them to transcend the environments and ideas they’re accustomed to. These are big environments with big problems and big possibilities.” So rappers stepping up to support social causes is inspiring. And, if they choose to support youth development efforts in American’s urban areas, they could have a tangible and positive impact.

  74. Nice article….keep it up!

  75. Reblogged this on Rendezvous Magazine.

  76. Wow – that was very good reading. Makes you realize that there are people out there are trying to do some good and don’t care if it betters their pocket or fans (Curtis) or what. I think that is the most honorable thing. To do what they know and feel is right. They got the right attitude.

  77. Reblogged this on paintboxtalks.

  78. This is a very encouraging sign of the times for the hip-hop culture. Historically, rock and pop stars have been at the forefront of addressing the issues of famine in third-world countries (Bono of U2 comes to mind), but now it’s very refreshing to see hip-hop’s elite such as Jay-Z and 50 Cent tackle the important issues.

    I’ve always felt that all entertainers, or anyone with huge influence in the popular culture, have a responsiblity to improve society in some form. I’m glad these two have stepped up to the plate. Proud of them!

  79. Good article, though I want to point out that, contrary to what you say, there are many, some very famous, videogames in which there is no way to win and the player must instead stave off inevitable defeat for as long as they can. Contrary to the end-goal oriented design you have in mind these games present the player with a situation in which there is no final solution. Videogames can formally express a wide range of attitudes, experiences and outlooks that goes well beyond both the optimistic design you reference as well as the doom-laden design I’ve just described.
    Some well known unbeatable games are Tetris, Space Invaders, Geometry Wars, Crazy Taxi, etc, etc…

    I realize this comment is kindof irrelevant to the overall point of your article, I just always feel the need to point out inaccuracies in others’ views of videogames. :)

    Like I said though, enjoyed the post!

  80. This was an interesting article for me because I am young and very into the hip- hop scene yet have never heard of 50 cent or jay-z being philanthropist per se. It might be due to the fact that hip-hop doesn’t want to lose it’s “hard core edge” or a chunk of it’s audience but I doubt that will happen because rappers reach out to people in need.

  81. Reblogged this on diemrapere.

  82. I think some artists are maturing, but the music still has some work to do. Or at least, the industry has some work to do in highlighting the artists as they mature.

  83. Reblogged this on desz01.

  84. Uuuuh, about 50 cent’s “philanthropy”….

    http://matadornetwork.com/change/7-worst-international-aid-ideas/

  85. This is great that their talents go to good causes :)

  86. Reblogged this on alainfetau and commented:
    A very insightful Blog exposing what I have already noticed when it comes to the Evolution of Hip Hop and the culture which surrounds it.

  87. Reblogged this on mcoqg and commented:
    This is deep…It’s good the HipHop artist branch off into other business ventures and some help people in need…

  88. Well said. I certainly hope this trend continues!!!

  89. A long time ago, The Who sang, ‘HOpe I die before I get old. The Who are either dead or old now. That is the fate of all of us. What else are hip hop artists meant to do if they love their art? A good sign that they are smart enough to grow up and keep going. thanks for this

  90. Reblogged this on Surreal Soundscapes NYC.

  91. [...] [adammaikkula] Rate this: Share this:MoreShare on TumblrDiggEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  92. Reblogged this on kamoria1 and commented:
    This is so good when people give back…..

  93. It’s always nice to see stars putting an effort into giving back. You always picture them in their big fancy houses with expensive jewelry and clothing but when they do something meaningful and give back it shows they actually care and they’re doing something good with their money and their fame and I love it. Unfortunately it doesn’t get as much publicity as when Lindsay Lohan gets a DUI or when famous singers go into rehab yet again so I’m glad you blogged about it. Thank You and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  94. 50 cent rulle’s, I thing what he does it’s a very fine thing , looking out for the pour

  95. Nope, sorry, I respectfully do not buy it. Something else is happening, and it is not about maturation. It’s about image and money.

  96. Props on this great post!

  97. I can see why your post was ‘Freshly Pressed’. Great ideas & perspective. I admit, I was not a big fan of video games, mainly because it was something I didn’t understand. I read this & it may have changed my perspective… “Video games have taught our generation that there is a solution to every problem in that no video game was ever created that just ended in a manner that left no conceivable way for the players to beat it, or to win.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts. To “staying-on”ness! Love it!

  98. Reblogged this on unsignedunhyped and commented:
    Humanity extending its greater good to those that most deserve it…

  99. Interesting and very well put together post you’ve got here.
    I’d be inclined to agree that there is definitely a move toward maturation showing in the hip-hop side of things, though its sadly still a nascent thing. Jay-Z has been outside the conventional rap world and lacking ‘street cred’ (as you pointed out) for quite a long while now but in his case I’ve almost always seen him as smarter, more savvy and more motivated to adapt and grow than the vast majority of rappers.
    I suppose its foolish to expect that all rappers or even the majority will mature, but one can hope.
    I don’t think the vast bulk of the hip-hop world is ready to mature yet, there was a spell in between when you had really intense and socially relevant and intelligent rap coming out – you had the really old school legends including the likes of Tupac, you had the relatively more recent Nas and Jay-Z and other lesser praised but very talented artists and groups as well. But somewhere in the 2000’s it felt like it all fell apart and the money, bling and mindless thug and party lifestyle was the thing. It made me stop listening to hip-hop because it left a poor taste in my mouth.
    Don’t expect them all to change, but if even a portion of artists can mature their music and lyrics and more importantly that the fans can accept them and support that – that will be a day I will be a happy fan of the genre again.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers.

  100. It`s happening in some parts, but hip-hop still has a lot maturing to do before it gets to the point where we as independent hip-hop listeners see that today`s mainstream start to get back to it`s roots and start playing real poetry type music and pay homage to the people who came before them.
    theafrobeat.wordpress.com

  101. Reblogged this on ruvevechivanga.

  102. Reblogged this on FOOTPRINT 2.0.

  103. Very good article!!! Thank you!

  104. Reblogged this on Ward'z de souzA.

  105. Great post, but sometimes I feel cynical, like today. When a person makes so much money, he/she has to move it around — because of tax consequences. Such a person may rather give to charity than to Uncle Sam. That is the way the laws were enacted and it works. At a certain point, monied folk look for places to put their money. Gives them a tax shelter, keeps their names out there and associated with something good, regardless of how the original money was made. Historically many monied families made their fortune from less-than-noble endeavors yet become the most beloved philanthropists in later life, generations. Also, a music career, especially hip-hop is very short– especially in front of the mic. You are old at 25. So even the most successful have to diversify, moving to producing, discovering new artists, acting, and, yes, philanthropy. It really is the natural course of things, even in hip-hop. So, none of it surprises me (or really impresses me). I am grateful, however, on behalf of the beneficiaries of these new endeavors. I truly hope it does much good. Again, great post and thank you for offering up the information and dialogue.

  106. yay! hip hop is maturing! Nice to see hip hop artiste doing work like this it shows that they are stepping out of the box and should inspire others to do the same.

  107. I love the 3rd video most.It is just amazing.

  108. Reblogged this on orchidsolarium.

  109. Jay-z and 50 cent are cool but Eminem is the man. Even though I cant ever think of a time that he’s givin moeny away, he gives us his awesome music.

    bloggeroutcast.blogspot.com/

  110. Reblogged this on sweetdreamzztextiles.

  111. Yay! So brilliant to hear that artistes (especially from the rap genre!) are using their fame and influence for world issues… I really think if they are blessed enough to be in that position, they should be giving something back and using their position to do great things.
    Thanks for writing about this…makes me see these guys in a whole new light! :)

  112. [...] I’d like to say #ThankYou to the WordPress community and others for reading my Maturation of Hip-hop post which was randomly picked up by Erica at WordPress.com and posted to the Freshly Pressed [...]

  113. Reblogged this on Princepality and commented:
    Hip-Hop is all grown up and is beginning to put its hand, bing pinky ring and all, into the glove of philanthropy. Take a look as Adam Maikkula discusses just Hip-Hop is leading the stage in the act of donating.

  114. It is interesting to see the growth of Jay Z as a person, but does that truly mean that Hip Hop as a genre has grown up with him? I think that point is debatable. Yes, we see the heavy weights such as Jay Z, Kanye West and 50 Cent using their fame to promote a good cause (though being in the media world, I would also suggest that this can also be a dose of good PR), but the genre I feel has still a long way to go. Hip Hop was at it’s best during the 80’s and 90’s when we had Zulu Nation, MC Lyte and the others whose music was promotion of peace, love and helping one another. Along the way Hip Hop lost it’s voice and got caught up with the capitalism culture. For every Jay Z, there is 100 other fellow rappers who still like to promote negativity and greed. This however is not to take away a well written blog post though :-)

  115. Reblogged this on Li'el in a Staccato Beat and commented:
    An unlikely perspective on hip-hop brought to us by someone who obviously knows the industry well. Thanks for pointing out that some artists are turning their street ways in for philanthropic ones. We should all look to see how we can grow and mature ourselves, mainly through figuring out ways to do more for others. Li’el

  116. Reblogged this on femolaomoba.

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