By: Kawin Long
Recently, I have been attending a few artist showcase, unsigned hype concerts etc. in and around New York City, the state where HIP HOP was born and something has struck a nerve with in me. I grew up in the south Bronx, listening to, during my time was Special K, Big L, Biggie, LL Cool J, Nas and many others. But what only until recently I began to really look at the industry and business side of things when I started my own public relations ﬁrm to help starving artists, called Prime Vision PR Group.
I decided one day to really look at companies that are intended to help the fellow artists in any musical genre including hip hop. So I breezed through websites like ASCAP and BMI. For those that aren’t familiar with those names, ASCAP stands for The American Society of Composer, Artists and Publishers and BMI is the bridge between the composer, their music and businesses that want to play their music publicly. What I noticed on the two sites was that especially on ASCAP, and I’ll get to BMI in a second, was that HIP HOP just seemed nonexistent. I kept looking through the site to see if HIP HOP had its own face, link or page. So I ﬁrst clicked on the GENRES tab and a drop down menu appeared with listings such as:
•Film & TV
• Rhythm & Soul
Do you notice anything? Do you notice that HIP HOP is not listed in its own category? What does this mean? Does it mean that HIP HOP is not recognized to have its own category? Does it not measure up to Pop/Rock, Classical or some of the others? Why is that? It was pretty strange to me, that a musical genre like HIP HOP that has been in existence for almost 37 years plus did not have its own place still in the industry, well at least recognized on website like the other categories were; An industry that spends billions of dollars on hip hop, which makes trillions of dollars from hip hop and its artists. So I kept searching. I then clicked on Rhythm & Soul and of course the page includes and features artists like Ne-Yo, Prince, Pharrell, and a few others but there is not nothing dedicated to Rap or Hip Hop in its own right. It just has an urban feel and likeness to it, which the naked eye would see. There is also the awards section that does not include a rap/hip hop awards event as well.
Now, I move onto another site, BMI. Unlike ASCAP, BMI has put a place for the Rap category too is shared with R&B. Why? They are not the same, maybe similarities with sounds, beats, samples and styles, but not the same. I then go into the R&B/RAP category and this is where I ﬁnd all the urban related Rap/hip hop news for BMI. But how come it still does not have its own? It just feels like your pairing the two together because of the urban similarities, or the image of Rap. Hip Hop to me has different categories with in its self that it deserves to be acknowledging on its own.
IS HIP HOP THE GENRE OF MUSIC THAT ISN’T FULLY RECOGNIZED?
RAP/HIP HOP should have its own place in the world of music. I just ﬁnd it odd and strange that these well-known sites have either paired it with another genre of music on the site or have not really gave the category it’s just dues. Unlike ASCAP, BMI from my research has an awards show for Rap and Hip Hop. Which is great, but I think that for the website developers and executives that make up the content on the site that it should stand alone. Hip Hop/Rap just like all the other categories has a meaning, an origin and a culture that stands alone, that ﬁghts to be heard, that was born through an era of poverty, drugs, violence and strength. This genre shows the struggle of growing up in the inner cities and now the suburban areas. Rap and hip hop no longer has one type of face, or one kind of sound or one particular race spewing curses and non-recognizable lyrics. So why should it be categorized with another type of music?
That’s why I respect independent sites that represent hip hop and rap music to the fullest. That gives rappers a place to really vocalize their music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in no means against these companies, but just stating my opinion and what I noticed to be missing. I’m a lover of music, I’m a fan of Hip Hop and I listen to all genres because they all piggy back off of each other but they all are supposed to stand alone. Now as for BMI and ASCAP, they are here to help protect the artists, the composer and the producer but they have to make sure that they are protecting the actual art as w
By: Kawin Long