Music as Media 2: Hip Hop Rap

Music as Media 2: Hip Hop Rap

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate, and use different types of print, digital, and multimodal media.
  • Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.
  • Explore the commericalization of Hip Hop music.
  • Hypothesize why musicians partner with large companies to promote their products.
  • Understand the meaning of credibility and investigate why credibility is important to hip hop fans.

This packet is the second in a series that explores music as media. Students will develop better critical thinking skills by analyzing information, reflecting on their own thoughts and feelings, and attempting to solve problems. Students will become more media literate and develop a better awareness of the social issues that affect music and its listeners.

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Intro to Hip Hop

          Hip-Hop music emerged from the Bronx, New York, in the mid-1970s, and soon spread to other large cities, including Los Angeles. The term “hip-hop” is credited to three New York musicians, Busy Bee Starski, DJ Hollywood, and DJ Afrika Bambaataa. Through much of the 1980s and early 1990s, most hip-hop recordings were bought by young African-Americans living in large cities. However, the popularity of hip-hop gradually spread, and more than half of the people today who regularly buy hip-hop albums are white suburbanites. There are also an increasing number of white hip-hop and rap musicians.

          Some observers believe that an important reason for the growth of hip-hop and rap’s popularity is the resistance that it has met among parents’ groups and others. This resistance is based in part on the obscene and violent lyrics that are often (but not always) present in rap songs. Some adults do not realize that there are different types of rap and hip-hop, but they instead associate all rap with “gansta” rap.

          There is another reason why hip-hop has become so popular: Hip-hop is now a profitable business in corporate America. Yes, big businesses are making money by heavily marketing hip-hop.


Read the following document and answer the questions at the end to test your knowledge of the subject.

Source: Journal of Hip-Hop, Volume I, Issue 1 Spring 2005

Journal of Hip Hop

This file contains two articles discussing the commercialization of hip hop.

Full Screen

Source: Source: Journal of Hip-Hop, Volume I, Issue 1 Spring 2005

The Commodification of Hip Hop

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the name of the system that was created in 1989 to track and count music sales?
  2. What two groups are given credit for expanding Hip-Hop's popularity beyond the intercity?
  3. In 1988, what TV show debuted and brought Hip-Hop to middle America, "beginning the 15 year mass media driven, process of overexposing society to selected aspects of Hip-Hop culture"?
  4. Run DMC's song "My Adidas" is an example of what?
  5. Adidas spokesmen witnessed the influence Run DMC had over their fans at a concert, so they gave the band ________________.
  6. Explain the following quote: "As Hip-Hop slowly morphs into the most popular visual cue for the mainstream, every element associated with the music and culture has become a commodity."
  7. Give an example of how Hip-Hop has become mainstreamed.
  8. Tommy Hilfiger sponsored the Rolling Stones. Kid Rock is a spokesperson for Coors Lite beer. Dragonfly clothing sponsors alternative rockers. These are just three partnerships mentioned in the above article. Think of another modern day partnership that is clearly evident through media.  Describe this partnership. How do you feel about musicians "selling out" to make more money?
  9. Credibility means- the quality or power of inspiring belief. Vanilla Ice was one of the first prominent white rappers. His success was short-lived, due in part to what many felt was his lack of credibility. Eminem, the most prominent white rapper at the moment, is viewed as having much more credibility by his fans.

    Who is Eminem?     Who is Vanilla Ice?

    Regardless of whether you like Eminem or not, describe why you think his fans believe he has credibility. Why do you think credibility is considered important to rap music fans?