Hip-Hop’s Link to Corporate Space
Christopher K. Johnson, Ph.D.
Christopher Johnson (
) is a Program Officer in the Africa Region of the
American Center for International Labor Solidarity (The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center) in
He has worked in partnership with trade unionists in Angola, Nigeria, South
Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Prior to accepting his current position, he worked for a number of years
as a union organizer with both public and private sector unions.
His written work has appeared in
The Journal of Black Studies, The Encyclopedia of African American History, and The
Encyclopedia of Black Studies
He holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies from Temple
University. He has been a life-long hip-hop fan, and tireless (friends and family say annoying)
promoter of underground rap artists.
The article discusses hip-hop’s progression from communal art to commodity and argues
that the change is attributed to the lack of strong social justice activism in the years the
music became popular, a lack of communal critique; the change from an industrial to the
postindustrial economy, and the ongoing commodification of Blackness that predated the
Thus, these factors combined with an aggressive corporate sphere have led
to a music that reflects mainstream values, even when representatives of that system say
Technological advances, and the impact these changes had on labor, led to incredible
changes within the music industry.
The increase in leisure time that came in the
industrial age resulted in the creation of the record player, commercial radio, television,
etc. for a growing population of consumers with surplus capital.
These and other
inventions became a means through which music entertainment could be delivered to the
The music industry mirrored all other capitalist American enterprises in its
quest for efficiency, profit, and the delivery of goods and services to the widest audience
The Journal of Pan African Studies
, vol.2, no.4, June 2008