Hip-Hop Saved My Life

Brandi Howliet | Staff Writer

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James Weaver

Hampton University students took an hour out of their day Nov. 14 to discuss hip-hop.

The Hip-Hop Saved My Life event was hosted by James Weaver IV, a strategic communications major, marketing minor from Chicago. Joining Weaver at this event were four other panelists; together, they discussed their opinions regarding the current state of hip-hop. The panel included: Dr. Kwame Brown, a Psychology professor; James Hooper, a rap artist; Dom Hill, a radio host and music curator; DJ Kay Spins; and James Weaver.

This event was designed as an open discussion of the state of hip-hop, and the current stigmas directed toward it by society.

The topics addressed included mumble rap, marketing plans, influence and “beefs” between well-known rappers. An artist showcase followed the discussion.

When asked the overall purpose of the event, Weaver explained that he “wanted to organize this event to help eliminate and combat the negative stigma surrounding hip-hop culture. This event highlighted the positive impacts rappers have had on our communities and created a platform for local artists and poets to network, perform, and share their work.”

Hip-hop has evolved drastically within a short amount of time. Twenty years ago, the biggest rap artists were Biggie and Tupac. They were known not only their epic beef, but for elevating the culture of hip-hop. Thanks to their respective bodies of work, audiences always knew the messages these artists conveyed. You could hear every word they were saying, but in contemporary society, “mumble rap” has become the new wave.

The current state of hip-hop does not always align with past states. Music isn’t always judged solely by lyrical content; if the beat is good and the hook is catchy, the song will likely go to number one on the charts. Dr. Kwame Brown spoke in regards to this topic. “Britney Spears’ song structure and beats made her music sound good even though she can’t sing or dance,” he noted.

Another topic that was proposed in the interactive discussion was the difference between the different marketing plans developed by artists. Young Thug, for example, wore a dress on his album cover Jeffrey. The decision to wear this dress caused a lot of controversy, but he deliberately used his creativity to influence social change. That was an effective marketing strategy on behalf of Thug and his team. On the other hand, artists such as Soulja Boy and Tekashi 6ix9ine are known for instigating unnecessary feuds in order to generate attention. This form of marketing causes controversy which can overshadow an artist’s music.

The internet also has a profound effect on an artist’s career. Streaming services are now larger than ever. A record can go platinum based on the number of times it is streamed.

James Hooper, a five-year MBA student from New Jersey, commented on this very topic. He noted that “the internet diluted hip-hop. Everyone goes platinum based off streams.”

Overall, the Hip-Hop Saved My Life event turned out to be very successful, largely due to its mastermind, Weaver. He used his own love for music and artistry in order to turn it into an open discussion for students at Hampton University.

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