How Hip Hop Has Become a Powerful Marketing Sensation

Feast your eyes on this- your billion dollar eyeballs that is.  The genre of hip hop has evolved from being a form of storytelling in urban culture to a marketing tactic for major retailers.

Story | Tay Preza

According to ABC, “When hip-hop was young, big business was put off by the violence and the controversy associated with the music.”

Fast-forward to today, major companies are partnering with Hip Hop moguls with no hesitation in order to boost their numbers.

Dr. Dre, producer, rapper and entrepreneur is now an Apple Executive. According to Business Insider, Jay-Z made a nearly $20 million deal with Samsung in 2013 for the release of Magna Carta, Holy Grail for a free download of the album if you were one of the first owners of the new Galaxy phone. Chance the Rapper, a recently popularized hip hop artist is now on our TV screens as a Kit Kat ambassador. And now we are seeing more and more of these artists participating in business deals with major companies. But why the sudden change?

By now, it should be obvious that it’s all about the money- for the corporate side that is. These major companies are starting to realize that the combination of millennials and the evolution of the digital age determine where that money is pocketed to.

With more eyes glued to screens, whether it be your cellphone, tablet, the TV, or your laptop, more corporate funding goes into digital media advertisements. And who are the ones looking at the screens? Millennials. The “younger” crowds are the ones investing their eyeballs, which means in order to engage with them, better and tailored tactics are necessary.

Have you seen the movie Black Panther? Great, right? Well, this is an example of how Disney is utilizing hip hop as a marketing tactic through your eyeballs. According to Variety, “Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ continues its record-breaking streak, passing the $1 billion mark at the global box office in just 26 days.” This is not only the most successful Marvel movie, but it has also beat out many other films in general. Is it a coincidence that Kendrick Lamar was the executive producer of the soundtrack? Of course not. There is a reason why his name was used and I can tell you it involves money.

On the airwaves, do you think Kendrick Lamar and T-Swift collaborated on the hit single “Bad Blood” because they are besties? Of course not. Kendrick was added on to the radio-edit version when it hit radio play to bring in more ears, or in other words, more money. It doesn’t stop there.

According to ABC, “[Hip Hop] now generates more than $10 billion per year and has moved beyond its musical roots, transforming into a dominant and increasingly lucrative lifestyle.” We are not only experiencing this on screens and radios.

This also means adding big names in hip hop and even pop to the Coachella lineup. For instance, this year in 2018, we see Eminem, Beyoncé, The Weekend headlining the three day festival along with other big names in the game right now like Cardi B, Jidenna, 6lack, Aminé, Jacob Banks, and the list goes on and on. In previous years, the festival involved mostly EDM and Alternative music. In 2018, we can already tell that it is definitely Hip Hop heavy.

So we know that using hip hop as a promotional strategy is proven to be successful. But you’re probably thinking, “Well, isn’t it a two-way street? Is it just as bad if these artists are in it for the money?”

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That depends on what that person’s intentions are. I can imagine certain artists are probably in it for the money because who would turn down a million dollar offer? I can also see how some artists are using the offered opportunity as a platform to inspire others in the receiving end.

Chance the Rapper pushes the idea that you don’t have to “sell out” to the music industry and sign to big record labels in order to be a successful artist and make radio play. Cardi B, a very controversial name, makes music and preaches that it is okay to be different and to just be yourself, despite what haters may say.

Yes, this is a money game and hip hop has finally made its way to the front stage. But with all this commotion, this is actually something bigger than just a marketing tactic.  

According to The Atlantic, “From an economic point of view, you [know] that there [is] money being exchanged, so you [realize] that hip hop [is] gaining power as a culture.”

With that, I think it is important to at least be aware of where your eyes are landing. As we now know, we pretty much control where a lot of the money goes to in terms of marketing. If we continue to support those with meaningful messages, then the world may just become a more conscious place. We are slowly witnessing this with the evolution of hip hop culture. We have more power than we think.

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