Has Hollywood Tarnished Hip-Hop Forever?

Hollywood has become the main objective of the American desire. It contains all of the ingredients necessary for a storybook lifestyle: money, fame, power, and the like. But, most recipes are never perfect. A pinch of this or a touch of that is usually the key to win over a hungry crowd. That extra ingredient, unfortunately, comes in the form of sex, drugs, alcohol, and parties. Anything done in moderation can be usually be counteracted by a healthy dose of consciousness. With each passing year, Hip-Hop is seemingly losing that grip on consciousness, and no one seems to notice the change that may be pertinent for our survival.

Is the Hollywood imagination partly or wholly to blame for Hip-Hop’s lack of socialism? If you look past the fact that artists are starring in their own sitcoms, making cameo appearances and being the marquee act on the big screen, you can still smell the rich stench of Hollywood in the air. The Hip-Hop culture has infiltrated all of the major award shows, and Hollywood’s own can be seen mingling with top-notch Hip-Hop moguls. Hollywood is a direct representation of the escape from the average and normalcy that everyday living provides. Signing a “lucrative” contract with Hip-Hop’s most elite labels has come to signify the same thing.

Let us briefly outline what it means for a struggling actor to finally make it to the theatres. It symbolizes a change in the status quo. When an actor is rewarded with an Academy award for his or her dedication to perfecting their craft, they are usually swarmed with offers of big money for future roles. They are allowed access to a world that never existed in their eyes before. The slow lane they once traveled in has turned into the Indianapolis 500. Jewelry designers allow them to flaunt their latest creations. Clothing designers flock to them to showcase the latest fashions they have to offer. Hairdressers allow thousands upon thousands of dollars to be thrown away to captivate the waiting audience. Limousines wait on them hand and foot, personal assistants sweat to make their lives as carefree as possible, and…well, you get the idea.

What does it mean for an impoverished rapper to make it to radio stations worldwide? At the beginning stages of Hip-Hop, there was no such thing as “exposure.” Only true fans of the culture knew what was going on at that time. Fast forward from then to 2003. Hip-Hop has been elevated to the highest of highs. The same set of circumstances can be found when the struggling artist finally strikes gold, but there are some differences involved. The issue of street credibility instantly takes center stage. Fear of leaving the environment you once called “home” in pursuit of a dream also comes into question. Other than those sorts of differences, it all remains the same.

We are in the “botox era” of Hip-Hop. More and more artists can be seen sporting mink coats, driving the fanciest of cars, dining at the most exclusive restaurants, and purchasing homes that would make Robin Leach proud. They are even purchasing companies and becoming viable businessmen in the entertainment industry. What has Hollywood done to contribute to the sudden influx of Hip-Hop artist wanting to live “the life?” There are many answers, yet some of them are not clear enough to be exposed.

What is clear is when Hip-Hop became recognized as a conglomerate and not a voice is when the trouble began. Gone are the days that messages helped empower youth. The few artists that have maintained a sense of dignity and self-truth are seldom noticed, if ever. The worldly treasures that maintain the sanity of Hollywood actors have trickled on the necks and fingers of Hip-Hop artists. More than ever, Hip-Hop has received more radio and airplay through commercials and advertisements. Record labels got wind of the fact that they can market MCs better than TV can market the next $200 million blockbuster. It has gotten to the point where rap artists are even becoming romantically involved with Hollywood hotshots (Q-Tip and Nicole Kidman’s supposed relationship is the latest testament to this).

In Hip-Hop’s humble beginnings, who would have thought all of this would be possible? Big recording budgets, arenas being overrun with thousands of adoring fans, jewelry that costs more than some houses, and wardrobes that resemble that of kings and queens. Lately, actors have cited the fact that Hip-Hop has taken away from their own luster, taking major roles from those who “deserve it.” Hip-Hop has become Hollywood’s twin, yet they are more like 5th or 6th cousins. The change that Hip-Hop has endured is irreversible, and the effects will be infinite. We may be right in the assumption that Hip-Hop is no longer Hip-Hop. “Holly-Hop” would be a more fitting description.

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