The Oracle

Mainstream music fads disgrace hip hop

Source: Billboard

Source: Billboard

Source: Billboard

Aidan Celner, columnist

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Now I might have some controversial taste in hip hop, but I respect the history of the genre as it sits atop the pop culture totem pole. It comes from a background of unimaginable struggle and pain, and in today’s day and age, many people are exploiting the genre’s appeal to become popular and wealthy.

In the age of technology, it’s near impossible to unplug for a while. In the frenetic world of social media, teenagers are the trendsetters and the deciding vote in what’s cool and what isn’t.

So, as an avid music fan, I realize that memes tend to play massive roles in tastemaking in the popular scene. As cliche and as cringey as they can be, internet memes have become incredibly effective for anything from promoting music to selling goods and merchandise. Although it’s a bit odd to talk about these inane and often downright stupid internet posts in such a matter of fact way, it’s the way that technology and the ease of sharing have shaped our ability to decide what’s in.

Let’s begin with Danielle “Cash Me Outside” Bregoli. The infamous 14-year-old Floridian rose from a Dr. Phil episode gone wrong and has ended up becoming a practically household name. In what could either be described as a genius business move or an astonishing failure of the public’s critical thinking abilities, Bregoli has signed a record deal with Atlantic Records under the moniker “Bhad Bhabie.”

The social media star and “rapper” has released a trio of singles, titled “These Heaux”, “Whachu Know” and “Hi Bich” (and no, those aren’t typos). They’re about as typical as these Soundcloud rap songs get with the overblown, distorted bass, rattling hi-hats and watery key samples. It’s not original. It’s barely even listenable.

Up next on the proverbial chopping block: Matt Ox. He’s a 12-year-old rapper from Philadelphia whose meteoric rise to internet fame was catalyzed by the music video for his song “Overwhelming”. The video shows Ox and his friends dancing around a convenience store, fidget spinners in hand, as the preteen warbles his way through the unimaginative tune.

To give credit where credit is due, though, good him for capitalizing on the fidget spinner trend, for driving a ridiculous amount of traffic to that video and getting his name out there in a huge way. Realistically speaking, it’s a pretty smart business move for record labels and the artists that they scoop up. The “artists” get to be popular and the labels can pretty much take that to the bank since they are guaranteed to get the clicks, streams and purchases, simply based on name recognition.

That said, a good business model does not a talented artist make. These people have teams of songwriters behind them and publicists who turn whatever pile of trash this person puts out into a hit. This has been the case with Bregoli and will likely be the future that will befall Ox as he moves forward. So, why should we care? It doesn’t affect us, right? Wrong. It makes the music industry a more unstable ecosystem than it already is with the legitimately talented, consistent artists falling by the wayside to these talentless social media idiots. There are countless small name artists that are making fantastic music, and I believe that we should be filling their bank accounts over these other “artists.”

The amount of phenomenal rap records that have come out between then and now has been astonishing, but none of them have gotten the attention because they’ve been outshone by whatever crap these YouTubers have been slinging at each other in their music videos.

In the end, it comes down to the fact that we simply need to care more about what we listen to and support. What’s an actual rap record and what’s a one-off, flash-in-the-pan song from someone with no artistic drive or ambition? Focus on it, think about it. Thinking is what makes music powerful.

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Mainstream music fads disgrace hip hop