A trend that has lasted 30 years
Eugene Kane of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an interesting column about the lack (again) of hip-hop acts at Summerfest this year. But even more interesting is this blog post about reader reaction to the column.
Some agreed with me there isn't a great range of diversity in this year's line-up, but many others said it was smart to avoid hip-hop music because of the threat of violence.
It made me realize, many of you simply don't understand what hip-hop music is.
It's not a "fad" or "trend". Hip-hop music has been around for THIRTY YEARS now!!
It's the music used on popular movie soundtracks, MacDonald's commercials and as bumper music for sports talk shows.
Many hip-hop icons like P-Diddy, Jay-Z, Kanye West and others are the biggest stars in music today.
All the time I talk to people who treat hip-hop/rap music like it's some passing fancy that will (hopefully) fade at any moment, or music that only African-Americans listen to. I don't get it. How can people be this clueless? I bet at least as many white people buy Jay-Z and Kanye West records as black people. And it's not all teenagers. I'm 28, and rap music has been on the radio and MTV almost my entire life. I remember going to the roller rink in third grade and hearing the Beastie Boys, Fat Boys and Run-DMC. It doesn't get any more mainstream than that, and that was 20 years ago!
Did people treat rock 'n' roll the same way when it was 30 years old? That would have been about 1985. I was only 8 at the time, so I could be wrong about this, but I don't think so. Ronald Reagan, not exactly the most socially progressive guy around, was yapping (cluelessly, but still yapping) about Bruce Springsteen, the biggest rock star in the world at the time, in his campaign speeches the year before.
I can't imagine George W. Bush doing a shout-out to Jigga on the campaign trail. "Loved 'The Black Album,' Hov!"
The difference between rock and rap at 30 is that rap still is made mainly by black Americans while the roots of rock had been completely whitewashed by the mid-1980s.
Not coincidentally, while rap has been assimiliated into pop culture (or, more accurately, taken it over),it still scares the hell out of a lot of white Americans who long for the dulcet tones of the Eagles and REO Speedwagon.
Wake up, people! Hip-hop/rap IS pop music now. Rock music (which I love, but still) is jazz.