Rapper Danny Brown (photo: Ysa Perez)

In a profile on rapper Danny Brown in this week’s Village Voice, I came across this statement by writer Aaron Frank:

Brown’s distinct delivery alternates between menacingly gruff and playfully nasal, a signature style that earned him the nickname “The Hybrid.” His drug-fueled rhymes, often over beats from grime and EDM producers, make him one of the only rappers expected to survive the changeover from hip-hop to electronic music as the party soundtrack for America’s youth.

Now, at this point, I can’t vouch for the veracity of this statement.  However, if it’s more than wishful thinking on the writer’s part, it indicates a sea change in terms of musical tastes and preferences.  On one hand, it’s somehow inevitable, given that hip hop is pretty much mainstream.  If you’re managing a brand that relies on music and hip hop in particular, you should keep an eye on this.  How this shift will manifest itself is anyone’s idea.  For now, let’s assume that there’s something worth investigating.

It will be interesting to watch (and try to predict!) the repercussions of this shift on business.  For example, such a shift should start to show up in marketing investments.  After all, if hip hop moves away from being the music of youth, something will certainly replace it.  And, when that happens, marketers who want to be “cool” and “hip” will spend their marketing dollars in these new spaces with new artists.

Other thing this represents is a context shift.  There may soon be new frames around what sounds and looks are “cool”.  Perhaps also new frames around gender ideas, particularly that of masculinity.  I don’t know, just freestylin’ here.  Will brands only leverage hip hop for mass reach, but look elsewhere for what’s “cutting edge”?

Watch this space.

Posted by Rob Fields

Observer. Curator. Marketer. Dot connector.

  • Sounds possibly correct to me. (Although I’m much less connected to music than you.) Beyond the usual edge to mass cycle, there are some other issues that spring to mind. Short hand for one issue might be “David Guetta killed hip hop”? Another issue is definitional: Grime, UK Garage, Drum & Bass all trace back towards house music, but have hip-hop influences. Definitely feels like the hip-hop influence is on the wane though. Likewise house music was incorporated by some big hip-hop names, but maybe it’s assimilating the hosts to a degree?

    Also of course, the turn of our economy is often associated with a change in the status of musical styles…