Hip Hop’s omnipresence in the media may be a positive indication that the youthful genre of music is an appealing and powerful tool for communication. However, cats like us that grew up listening to Hip Hop already knew this. There is no need to evaluate the stereotypical creative licenses given to rappers to make money. Hyperbole has become all too common when you attempt to take in a new joint, and has taken from the art. Hip Hop culture has become commonplace in the world, but the images projected of its subjects are limited. This pattern has continued into commercials, and it’s problematic for the Hip Hop culture.
In Hip Hop’s early state many companies tried capturing its appeal to sell their products. British Knights, Sprite, Adidas, and Taco Bell all sought after the hottest rappers of the time to pitch their brand to the urban community. What was amazing in looking at the footage of these old commercials was how the majority of them displayed the rapper naturally. This is no particular plug for the good nature of corporate marketing, but a plug for the strength of Hip Hop’s voice. These cats dictated what they were going to perform and to an extent it represented their community, their own lives, and promoted their grit in a way the community felt good about. The problem with commercials that are inspired by Hip Hop today is that ad agencies feel extremely comfortable creating “Hip Hop” illegitimately. We see Aflac, FreeCredit.Com, Subway, Rally’s, Mc Donald’s, and Evian to name a few, poking fun at the culture and genre. Elements of Hip Hop can be found all over the world now, and though recognition always extends the art, these commercials continue to deflate the validity of the culture that is already suffering from many pop culture tenets.
Hip Hop Commercials of the 80’s and 90’s
Some may take issue with advertising in Hip Hop altogether because it implies disingenuous goals. How can one advertise a product and maintain a true dissent against exploitive practicing of American business? Nonetheless, in videos you see above you’ll find many of these artists maintained their voice and image even though they’ve participated in commercial endorsements. Many of these cats effectively promote themselves and their contribution to the Hip Hop culture. You see Curtis Blow, Run DMC, Heavy D, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth, and Tribe here and they are exactly how remember them.
Hip Hop Commercials of Recent Times
In recent years liberty has been taken to create Hip Hop commercials disregarding knowledge, ingenuity, and respect of the culture. Cooperations have seemed to bypass the logical step of using legitimate Hip Hop artists to move their product. Freecredit.com, Aflac, Rally’s, Evian, and many others have contributed to these chop-shop version of Hip Hop. Although Evian and Kia seem to be the only companies that use an actual rap songs and playfully jesters at the youthful nature of Hip Hop, the are still cliched subtleties that can be harmful. The others companies attempt to produce rap, dance, and other forms of culture in a stereo-typcial way that totally ridicules.
Don’t Squeeze the Art Out of the Culture
Superficially, cats might look at the global impact of Hip Hop as a spectacular advancement. You may be able to go to any major city in the world and watch a Hip Hop show, see street performers break dancing, or take in mural inspired by grafitti. These commercials give people around the world an opportunity to take in a very dense and diverse art form. However, if theses advertisements gnaw at the respect Hip Hop culture has been able to secure through tongue and cheek routines, it will prevent viewers from developing an authentic relationship with the genre. Real consultation with cats that know Hip Hop is need to display real creativity, love, and musicianship.