Many of our readers may agree that the downfall of Hip Hop culture began when conglomerate companies gained control. Though its international development is a result of the marketing strategies of mass media, Hip Hop has been used by corporations more than alcohol has been uses as an excuse for mistakes. But when the word corporations is thrown around few people actually know which corporations to blame. Now, this is a story all about how Rap got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you who ruined Hip Hop through the media air.
Aside from Blondie’s Rapture video at the opening of MTV in 1981, the first true rap video broadcasted by MTV was Run DMC’s Rock Box in 1984. Though there were locally syndicated music channels televising rap videos Run DMC’s made for MTV song was the first national broadcast. Its success, along with other videos that MTV eventually released, led to Ted Demme and Peter Doughtery developing the program Yo! MTV Raps in 1987. This iconic program played a crucial role in the spread of Hip Hop around the world as has the other Hip Hop and rap inspired programs.
The Robert L. Johnson cable television network BET was launched in 1980, initially broadcasting a 2 hour block on Nickelodeon and eventually became a channel in 1983. Promoting itself as “black entertainment” the network broadcasted popular black sitcoms and black music videos, which included R&B, jazz, and (you guessed it) rap. At the time the frequency of broadcasted rap videos was larger than most other national music videos, further contributing to the exposure of rap.
There is no doubt that both MTV and BET has contributed to the spread of Hip Hop but in recent days they are the prime examples of whats wrong with Hip Hop, broadcasting songs that cause many to shake their head in disappointment and make the adjective “mainstream” sound negative. The interesting fact that most people don’t realize is MTV and BET are subsidiaries (baby companies) of Viacom. Viacom is a mass media conglomerate comprising of such networks as BET, MTV, VH1, and until recently CBS. Yes, BET was not always a subsidiary of the company but it has been since its purchase in 2001. Obviously they’re not the sole cause of what Hip Hop has come to be but next time you say “they” ruined the culture you know which direction to point your fingers.
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