astu text - Danceable Capitalism: Hip-Hops Link to...

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Danceable Capitalism: Hip-Hop’s Link to Corporate Space by Christopher K. Johnson, Ph.D. Columbia, Maryland Christopher Johnson ( ) is a Program Officer in the Africa Region of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center) in Washington, D.C. 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. Abstract 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 hip-hop era. 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 otherwise. Introduction 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 consumer. 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 possible. 80 The Journal of Pan African Studies , vol.2, no.4, June 2008
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The messages in hip-hop, and all forms of popular music existing within the America project can expect to be affected and for the most part controlled by corporate machinery. In fact, it is the will of the corporation beyond the innovation of the artist that must dominate the relationship in order for that relationship to exist at all. The Business of Hip-Hop Music The American music business is an industry that has always existed in a state of flux. It changes as genres emerge, become popular, and fade. In addition to being controlled by the tastes of the intended audience, the industry itself becomes a tastemaker as particular artists are chosen and promoted at the expense of others. In recent years the consolidation of music companies, radio, and television interests has resulted in an even greater role of the music companies as engineers of what is or is not considered worth
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2011 for the course ASTU 150 taught by Professor Wu during the Spring '10 term at The University of British Columbia.

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astu text - Danceable Capitalism: Hip-Hops Link to...

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